Break up the NBN? Wow. How about we actually build the damn thing first.


opinion The National Broadband Network should not be broken up into smaller parts. It should not be set up to compete with itself. And it should most definitely not be sold off to the private market. There is only one thing that the Government should do with the NBN. It should damn well get on with the job of building it.

Last week I received an email from a resident of Redland City, which is a local government area in South East Queensland. Redland City sits between Brisbane, Logan and the Gold Coast, and has a population of about 150,000.

This resident told me an extremely familiar story. They let me know that they lived in a very modern housing estate. From what I can tell, it’s in a beautiful location, close to the coast, close to modern amenities, in a great community and so on. In short, they are living the life — enjoying the beautiful Queensland climate, in a modern residence — the world should be their oyster.

However, like so many Australians, there was one substantial factor lacking from their life — access to decent broadband services, or in this particular case, any actual broadband services at all. For some reason, this particular location had been left off the modern day map. Australia’s telecommunications companies, regulators and policymakers appear to have forgotten this corner of Redland City exists. Because almost every aspect of modern Australia relies on the Internet, this resident struggles every day to get basic tasks done.

This is a familiar story to me. As a technology journalist and former telecommunications policy advisor, I have been hearing it almost every day for years. Almost every single day one Australian or another emails me, posts a comment on Delimiter or even calls me to let me know of a similar situation.

It is for this reason that I couldn’t help but laugh bitterly — extremely bitterly — when I read a speech given this week by Rod Sims, the head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Residents in places like Redland City — and all around Australia — are currently screaming out for access to broadband at all. They would kill to be able to get a decent ADSL broadband connection to their premises, let alone higher-speed technologies such as HFC cable or Fibre. And there are many other Australians who would kill to get broadband speeds faster than 5Mbps. You can find plenty of examples posted on the Delimiter forums.

But in his speech to a conference held by the Australian Consumer Communications Action Network, Sims had relatively little to say about what the ACCC or the Federal Government could do to increase the availability of high-speed broadband to all Australians.

Sims didn’t talk about the policy settings that would facilitate the provision of universal high-speed broadband to all Australians. He didn’t talk about how Redland City — and many tens of thousands of ‘broadband blackspot’ locations all around Australia — could receive decent broadband.

He also didn’t spend any time talking about how the many Australians who do have broadband access — but very, very slow broadband access — could eventually have their paltry speeds upgraded to something more acceptable to the modern world.

And he certainly didn’t spend any time at all talking about how Australia could set itself up for the next century when it comes to telecommunications infrastructure.

Instead, Sims talked about things that are not at the critical edge of Australian telecommunications policy. The ACCC chair talked extensively about theoretical levels of competition in the telco sector. He spent time justifying his organisation’s controversial decision to approve the acquisition of iiNet by rival broadband player TPG. He spoke in great detail about how competition in the telco sector had driven down prices, and also about how the ACCC was ensuring industry compliance with regulatory outcomes.

And Sims also made a number of comments about the National Broadband Network; namely, that in his view the NBN company should ultimately be broken up into different chunks — one selling Fibre broadband services, presumably, others selling HFC cable and so on — and sold off to the private sector where each chunk could compete with each other for customers.

Now I don’t have a problem with the head of Australia’s competition regulator talking about theoretical competition levels in Australia’s telco sector, or about price levels. And even though I strongly disagree with the ACCC’s decision to allow TPG to acquire iiNet and consolidate Australia’s broadband sector even further, I certainly don’t have a problem with the head of the ACCC justifying its decision in public. That is its role.

But I am here today with a simple message for Rod Sims and the ACCC in general: Hands off the National Broadband Network.

Stop talking about breaking it up. Stop talking about its segments competing with each other. And stop talking about selling it off to the private sector.

The truth is that Australia’s telecommunications policy landscape has looked like a dilapidated trainwreck for around two decades now, and the ACCC and the Government of the day have made a number of decisions along the way which have directly contributed to that disaster zone, and to the lack of broadband access which many Australians suffer today.

The ACCC’s failure to block — at all costs — Telstra’s complete overbuild of Optus’ HFC cable network in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s led directly to the entrenchment of the dominant position of Australia’s largest telco in the market, and a terminal lack of interest by large telcos like Optus in building their own competitive telecommunications infrastructure in Australia.

The failure of the Howard Government to structurally separate Telstra into wholesale and retail divisions prior to its privatisation further strengthened Telstra’s position in the market, creating a permanent and frustrating role for the ACCC to legally restrain a telco from squelching its competitors entirely.

And who could forget the ACCC’s infamous decision with relation to the number of Points of Interconnect it imposed on the NBN, which cut small to medium-sized broadband providers out of competing on the NBN network and led to — as predicted — intensely rapid market consolidation and decreased broadband competition levels.

It is this serious of horrible telecommunications policy decisions which has led directly to the situation in areas such as Redland City and Australia’s terrible ranking in global broadband tables.

In this context, the National Broadband Network policy initiated by the Rudd Government and continued in a heavily modified form under the Coalition still represents the great white hope of bringing decent broadband speeds to all Australians. It is the only telco deploying broadband infrastructure in Australia at any scale. Every single other company of any size has given up due to the endemic levels of regulatory uncertainty in the market and is waiting for the Government to fix the problem.

For all its faults (and there are many), the idea that the Government could create a single telco that would unilaterally upgrade and extend all of Australia’s broadband networks is an attractive one. And it is this vision that the majority of Australians support.

When Australians tell me their broadband sob stories — almost every day — they almost universally mention the NBN as their only hope to get better broadband. Right around Australia right now, there are individuals sending letters daily to the NBN company pleading for the company to roll out high-speed broadband in their area. They are sending the same letters to Members of Parliament, who are then lobbying the NBN company on their behalf.

There are councils who have banded together — across political party lines — to lobby the NBN company to deploy broadband in their area. There are countless community groups and professional associations forming petitions. Even State Governments — again, regardless of political persuasion — are getting in on the action.

In short, right now, the NBN company is hearing a constant cry of anguish from all around Australia regarding the lack of decent broadband infrastructure in this fair nation.

In this context, demands for the NBN company to make a profit, for it to be broken up into chunks, for it to be sold off, fall so far short of the community’s expectations of the company that they become laughable. Or, in my case, because I have followed this situation for so long — they become the subject of bitter laughter which then descends into a fit of coughing up black bile at the ridiculousness of it all.

Mr Sims, the aim of competition policy is to stimulate better outcomes for consumers. The aim of telecommunications competition policy is to stimulate better telecommunications outcomes for consumers.

Cheaper prices are nice. A choice of broadband providers is also nice. And it’s also nice if agencies such as the ACCC can stop telcos from royally screwing Australian consumers with dodgy deals along the way.

But the real aim of the game here is better telecommunications infrastructure, and I would encourage the ACCC to recognise that all sides of politics and most Australians have placed pretty much all of their eggs in the basket of the NBN company to achieve that.

Breaking up the NBN company; flogging it off to the private sector; forcing it to compete with itself — none of these things are going to result in Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure being upgraded in a faster or more efficient manner. These things will only massively muddy the waters and slow down the process whereby the NBN company realises this important public policy aim.

I think many of us are willing to have a conversation about privatising the NBN in the long-term — but that is not possible until it has actually gotten most of its job done in building its network.

The most important thing right now is to just get the NBN built — in whatever form it can be. Because there are many Australians in the corners of places like Redland City who will take pretty much anything they can get. And by the time those gaps get filled, the rest of the nation will need an upgrade too.


  1. Another issue is the cost to actually connect. A tiny pocket of my area was connected up to the NBN, not the actually buildings of course, just the NBN point. Over $5k for these small retail businesses to connect. Most are leasing space in commercial building owned by interstate owners, who quite frankly could not care less if they are empty and often if can get permission from landlord to connect, just can’t afford to do it. Hence, over 100 businesses in this small location and not one has yet actually been in the position to connect. Instead still relying on old copper lines, telling people to go & visit the ATM to get cash to pay their beauty service (true story) as it is raining & they have lost their line. Catch 22 is that Telstra won’t fix the lines because… yes, you guessed it, they can connect to the NBN if they wish :(

    Yet all we hear from the Govt is “productivity”… How are we supposed to be productive when small business can’t access decent, fast, stable broadband? Or help unemployment when lack of broadband makes it impossible to study or work from home?

  2. Hi I think they should abolish the ACCC as it is as useless as tits on a bull & replace it with one that can actually think about things before they wreck them,unfortunately we have a Govt of idiots so I dont hold out much hope,annoy the bastards, keep it up

    • ACCC has proven itself to be a contradiction in terms. Grocery prices, fuel, electricity, phone, internet, they always side with the big corporations. Pathetic human beings every last one of them, sack every single person in the ACCC, even the cleaner.

      • Simms was chosen for his ability to sound like was doing something while always picking the right targets while using a vaguely plausible yet strategically idiotic attack.
        Look at his history of failures and compromises. Fuel cartel pricing in particular was a fiasco in how the ACCC prosecuted it.
        The previous ACCC admins had been far too successful in holding business accountable and they lobbied heavily for someone more amenable to their wants. He’s done exactly what the government wants in his role, hit the small players to gain some headlines and leave the big boys alone to do as they please.

        • Indeed… the fact that Graeme Samuel (Sims predecessor) was referred to as the “Rogue Regulator” by the the three dreaded Telstra amigo’s, proves that he at least, must have been doing something right.

          As for Sims, well I dunno, but perhaps he may well have slotted in nicely as the fourth amigo?

      • Thanks for restricting competition & our choice of providers ACCC.
        Seems few ISPs are interested in servicing all those POIs you imposed.

  3. “There is only one thing that the Government should do with the NBN. It should damn well get on with the job of building it.”

    Agreed. Debate on how or why or when or where the Government should or can’t do, regards NBN, is over. It is now, what it is. Get on with it. No, we won’t all get fibre. It was never perfect, and now it’s much less perfect.

    Too bad. This is where we are. Time for people to get on with the job. Because endless debates on who/ why/ how simply allow Turnbull to sidestep, blame Labor and not be held accountable. What he and they do now, is more important that what they could/ should have done. Horse is gone. The End.

    I would prefer the ACCC spent it’s time actively involved in the process of ensuring NBNco operates in the manner that it should, and that competition of any form is encouraged in the remaining parts of the sector that haven’t yet collapsed entirely.

    I don’t care what is built now; it’s too late to change. Better to at least get it built, and then review what can be done, and when, and by whom.

    I’m at a complete loss as to what the ACCC are trying to achieve. Frighteningly, I suspect they are equally also at a loss as to what they are supposed to be doing. Infrastructure competition is dead. It’s so dead that ISPs are now eating each other to attain the bulk required to compete in the market at all, with a now revitalised and very fit Telstra Retail breathing down their neck.

    TPG haven’t consumed iiNet for the lulz. It’s because they don’t want to become extinct. And that’s exactly the same reason why iiNet wanted to be bought.

  4. Residents in places like Redland City — and all around Australia — are currently screaming out for access to broadband at all. They would kill to be able to get a decent ADSL broadband connection to their premises, let alone higher-speed technologies such as HFC cable or Fibre.

    And thanks to the current gov wasting the last 2 years with dodgy reviews and buying obsolete copper networks, these ppl will have to wait even longer for decent internet.

    • Yes, they will. However going down this particular thought process simply gives Turnbull a free pass to point at labor and claim it’s their fault.

      What’s done, is done. Time to hold NBNco and Turnbull accountable for the here-and-now, not what they should have done.

      This is what most of the media keeps doing. Fond jaunts back in time about how it’s all gone a bit Pete Tong, rather than holding the current Minister, and NBNco, to account for what they are doing, now.

    • Yes, 9 month delay and counting here, the original fibre roll out should have been finished by now. Yet it’s being re-designed as VDSL2 so the street gets a second green box, and get to wait an extra 9 months for a service. Construction started in 2012, still not a single meter of fibre pulled into the pits.

      My state of the art in 1995 ADSL1 connection (DSLAM installed 2007 lol), was never up to the task. I’m so not bothering with FTTN, if I have to sell everything I own to pay for FTTP, I bloody well will.

  5. I see the ACCC point of a forward view that non-optimal information transmission mediums such as copper should in principle be open for overbuilding by optical, which is guaranteed to be the fastest and most efficient due to the size of the photons being used rather than slower electrons through copper with greater resistance, requiring greater electricity bills and more frequent repeaters. To put restrictions on overbuilding is inherently anti competition. For some number of years, the current rollout might merit some protections against overbuilding. But once it’s rolled out, what is going to allow the market to improve infrastructure? What will ever incentivise a change from FTTN or HFC to a more efficient medium? Quantum entanglement could conceivably provide faster than light communications one day; will the current NBNco enshrine its anti-competition protections to the detriment of competitive market forces for all time, or should there be some sunset clause that reopens the market?

    • “To put restrictions on overbuilding is inherently anti competition.”

      So are 120+ points of interconnect. Didn’t stop the regulator accepting a heavily lobbied request from the carriers concerned.

      This is the single biggest trigger for ISPs eating each other. The ACCC doesn’t give a crap if something is or isn’t “fair”. It doesn’t work that way.

      “But once it’s rolled out, what is going to allow the market to improve infrastructure?”

      The market has a history of only improving infrastructure where it’s financially sane to do so. That isn’t inherently evil, but it does create disparity in services. The NBN (even in it’s original, less than perfect form) was supposed to rectify this to a greater degree by being protected (for x period of time) and being a wholesale only entity.

      The list of entities actively competing with NBN is very short. TPG is deploying hardware into select MDU’s because it can lock in lucrative positioning. Optus and Telstra are only too happy to get rid of their Cable networks, so they’re not even interested in competing.

      The thing is, infrastructure competition was primarily triggered because of market stifling by the incumbent telco. There was a chance to grab market share before it became saturated by building something better than the other guy. We’ve long since passed the point of saturation and ‘being better than the other guy’ now means a nation wide fibre optic deployment.

      Who the hell, honestly, is going to do that now, in the current financial climate?

      • The market has a history of only improving infrastructure where it’s financially sane to do so.

        And this is why ‘competition policy’ falls on its’ face in so many countries. Markets will deliver a better outcome if, and only if, there’s a profit to be made for the company making the investment.

        Wider economic benefits, or non-monetary benefits of all kinds, don’t ever get a look-in in the investment decisions made by corporations. This is the role of government – to direct investment toward delivering such benefits, because, unlike corporations, the government does derive benefit (through higher taxes, national growth, etc) from these ‘unprofitable’ investments.

        • +100

          This is the basis of the original problem for broadband in Australia.

          To service as many Australians as possible, commercial companies would not be able to justify the ROI, if they could, Telstra/Optus would have already done it.

          Building the NBN with public monies and then selling it, would just create the same problem we ran into with John Howards original sale of Telstra. It’d be a monopoly and would only upgrade areas where they’d get a “good” return.

          Splitting the NBN up wont solve the competition issue either. Most areas will only be serviced by one type of transport medium (HFC/FttN/FttP/Wireless/Satellite), so they’d only be creating smaller monopolies that could still run in an anti/un competitive way.

          The only way any real competition can be guaranteed and make sure all Australians can benefit from, and access, the network is for the wholesale side of things to be retained under government control and make sure the retail side is open to any and all companies to compete.

          Any thing else will see us revisiting the same old crap in another 20-30 years…

        • I agree with Tinman, +100!

          The indisputable benefit of the NBN is the economic boon to the GDP. Unfortunately, this is not a goal that the free market can be focused on. It may be a result of the free market, but not a goal. So having private enterprise build infrastructure is a very poor idea, always. On the flip side, government is horrible at retail and granular servicing.
          This is why to maintain efficiency and quality, infrastructure should always be left to governments, and retail and service should always be left to the free market.

    • “guaranteed to be the fastest and most efficient due to the size of the photons being used rather than slower electrons through copper with greater resistance”

      Yes, fibre has greater bandwidth than copper, but please, if you don’t know why, don’t try to give an reason why. That was just wrong wrong and more wrong.

      • If you disagree with the fundamental science, why don’t you elucidate? The electric field in copper could move at 2/10 the speed of light. The light in a fibre optic cable travels at 7/10 the speed of light. These are fundamentals.

        • .. and they are both terminated by equipment that utilise copper paths as connectors between components. Networking still comes down to the lowest common denominator. :)

          The advantage to fibre, however isn’t (just) the speed at which it transmits data, so much as the now well established degree in which capacity can be upgraded. The potential and actual improvements dwarf copper in scale.

          Even Turnbull won’t argue that. His problem has always been the cost, not the method.

        • Actually electrons in copper move faster than photons in fibre.
          The speed of the electrons and photons actually don’t have a direct relationship to the pace of the overlying network connectivity.

          Speed of electrons in a copper wire is around 95% speed of light.

          Speed of photons in a fibre is around 70% the speed of light.

          As Darren says, please don’t try and explain something you don’t understand.

  6. I spent over $700k building a house to find out that I was in a broadband black spot. To hear people complaining that Australians are happy with their speed and that the NBN was too expensive was incredibly frustrating.

  7. “For all its faults (and there are many), the idea that the Government could create a single telco that would unilaterally upgrade and extend all of Australia’s broadband networks is an attractive one.”

    No it isn’t, it’s a damn stupid one.

    You’re obviously not old enough to remember what Telecom was like. If having a single incumbent government owned telco is such a great idea, why have all first world countries broken up and sold theirs?

    You have no idea what having a government monopoly incumbent telco is like. You don’t have to be old enough to remember what a government monopoly incumbent telco is like, but if you’re going to claim they are an “attractive” idea, you should at least know some history of them. But takes time to do that research, it is much easier to spend an hour writing a rant about how good something you’ve never experienced or know about is going to be.

    If you knew anything about telecommunications history, you’d know that incumbents jealously guard the monopoly status, to the point of ridiculousness.

    When it was Telecom only, you could only get a phone from Telecom, and you could only rent it from them. Same for answering machines, or in fact anything that was to attach to the Telecom network. So no competition for these devices, so Telecom could charge the most for them they possibly could until customers squealed to their local federal minister. There was absolutely no incentive to lower prices, and since indirectly it went into the governments pocket, no strong reason for the government to encourage Telecom to lower prices either.

    You mourn sale of iiNet to TPG. None of iiNet, TPG, Internode or any other ISPs would exist if Telecom hadn’t have been privatised. You’d also be stuck on ADSL1 speeds, because there would be nobody to have invested their own money in deploying ADSL2+. Additionally, you would have not even had ADSL until the ISDN network had been paid off, because Telstra never let one product cannibalise another – and given some brain dead decisions they made on the ISDN network (TS-013, and letting Ericsson have the IP), the time to cover the the costs of “Australia’s own” ISDN network would have meant we’d have never got ADSL when we did either, even from Telstra themselves.

    So Renai, since you’re willing spend time ranting about how bad things are, lets play a game. Lets make it your problem to solve.

    How would *you* roll out the NBN faster without blowing out even further the budget for the thing? Import foreign workers and pay them much less than what Australians get paid? Look at how well that is working out for 7-11.

    • And you clearly don’t understand the difference between a vertically integrated monopoly(which we still have thanks to Howard) and a wholesale only monopoly which NBN is supposed to be … You know like BT was separated into in the UK!

    • @shark

      “If having a single incumbent government owned telco is such a great idea, why have all first world countries broken up and sold theirs?”

      Because like ours, they were mixed retail and infrastructure entities. Infrastructure should always be in Government hands, but retail should NEVER be…
      Competition should NOT be a religion, it should be treated differently by different scenarios.

      • ^this

        Competition in telecoms infrastructure is inefficient, it should be controlled by the government so even areas that would be unprofitable for a commercial entity get serviced.

        The government, however, should have nothing to do with the retail side of things, evah.

    • I don’t think many people here are against privatisation of Telstra as such. Renai has stated in other pieces that Labor would have been better off structurally separating Telstra to improve competition. As it is, the privatised Telstra still engages in a wide range anti competitive practices. It may not have been as bad as it was when Telstra was the only place you could get a phone from, but it’s still bad.
      As to what should be done, how about not spending 2+ years turning the ship around at NBN ?
      Also, the costs and timescales being quoted for a fiber rollout by nbn are 2 to 4 times more than anywhere overseas. Surely they can do better.

    • I remember Telecom, prior to it becoming a retail supplier. It had its issues, but they provided a service that was pretty damn solid. Heck I am still using the remnants of that service now.

      What has it done since it became privatised?

      Keep the “government owned” infrastructure as a wholesale monopoly and allow anyone to compete on it. You create a competitive market for maintaining it, and when you need to upgrade/extend it you allow the market to compete for the build rights. Etc.

      • Telecom also used to do a lot of R&D work and was one of the 1st companies anywhere in the world to power remote equipment using Solar Panels. They had plenty of other 1st’s too.

    • I imagine if you’d been alive when they started rolling out the copper network in the early 1900’s, you’d be saying the same things about cost and asking “why do people need to be talking to each other on these new fandangled voice boxes, when they can just send a perfectly good letter, if we want faster communication we should be investing in carrier pigeons!”.

      • They don’t realise that they don’t get their precious economic growth without improvements to services.

    • “If having a single incumbent government owned telco is such a great idea, why have all first world countries broken up and sold theirs?”

      Because almost all have been a vertically-integrated infrastructure owner that is also a retailer, creating a natural conflict of interest wherever regulations exist with respect to competition; particularly when privatised.

      There is value in infrastructure competition when there is also logic in doing so; the last mile isn’t a logical place for infrastructure competition. In the same way that other services such as gas and power aren’t.

      Access to the Internet, should be thought of and considered in exactly the same manner. A utility service that retailers may operate over; infrastructure owned by a central entity that is prohibited from retail, owned by the government that is subject to regulation.

      Simply put, the ACCC has boxed itself into the corner by backing a play that is entirely irrelevant in a post-NBN world. It’s the same play they have been pushing for over a decade; it’s a tired argument that has lost any value.

      The ACCC is better served, and serves better, in policing and working towards effective stewardship of retail competition. Infrastructure competition, beyond small scale pockets, is dead. They just can’t let go of the corpse.

    • If having a single incumbent government owned telco is such a great idea, why have all first world countries broken up and sold theirs?

      Because of neoliberal ideology that prioritises private profit over anything else. Government-owned monopolies are a serious obstacle to people making profits out of telecommunications. Selling those monopolies into private ownership makes a lot of wealthy people even wealthier (particularly those that broker the sale), and provides more opportunity for private profit to be extracted from what should be a minimum-cost utility.

      After all, which direction did power prices go when retail competition was introduced? Same cost of generating the power, but now you have to pay for marketing and profits as well. Any temporary price reductions were achieved by cutting back on maintenance and other activities necessary for the long-term stability of the system, and that only lasted until the regulators decided that price increases to cover 100% of ‘costs’ of upgrades to the system were reasonable.

      By privatising the essential infrastructure of modern first-world countries, you’re allowing private corporations to levy taxes on all economic activity. Just look at the profitability of banks worldwide – they basically tax all non-cash financial transactions, at a net cost to the global economy measured in $trillions. The money they make far exceeds the cost of provision of the services they offer.

  8. “there are individuals sending letters daily to the NBN company pleading for the company to roll out high-speed broadband in their area. They are sending the same letters to Members of Parliament, who are then lobbying the NBN company on their behalf.”

    I write letters twice a year to the Minister, the NBN, and my local Member (ALP), all I get is a paragraph of party spin directed at the opposing side and then a “it is coming and expected to be rolled out by 2020..” etc etc no one lobbies, no one tries to even give a hint of when it may start in my general area, and none of them see it as a priority. I do get three replies all with spin and marketing and no actual information.

  9. Same boat here , My Suburb Fibre construction started 2012 , now its SEPT 2015 & I am still stuck on ADSL2+ @ 4KM from Exchange on a measly couple of mb/s , struggle to play a you tube video without it stopping & buffering , Netflix ? you have got to be joking . Other than the Planning of Fibre for my area & a few Pit checks , nothing else has happened to date in my Suburb . The NBN site now shows my area has been ‘removed’ & is now expected to have ‘MTM technology” in 2nd half of 2016 . Lets put the Fibre upgrade on hold , then make people wait nearly 5 years & then give them a 3rd World Country Connection with a crap FTTN connection , that will need upgrading before they even finish the rollout . What about the cost to Install / upkeep & power these Nodes ? Never hear anything about that ? This Government & previous are only interested in their term of governing , how about they join together & look forward for the country & bloody well install Fibre , so we the Australian Taxpayers are not wasting money with a second rate service & having to pay again in the near future for a Fibre upgrade . Malcolm Turnbull will go down in history as the one who wasted all these $$ & gave the Australian public a second rate internet that UK have proven is a steaming turd . Malcolm Turnbull now says his NBN – FTTN will give us 25 mb/s Peak Speeds , so that means if I can get 25mb/s at 2.00 am in the morning when noone else is on the net then I have been given all I need ? What a Joke ! I dont want a Peak Speed , I want a guaranteed minimum speed , & how about I choose what that speed is ? Other countries are upgrading their internet to 2 gb/s & here we are talking about Peak speeds of 25 mb/s ? The world is laughing at us & thinking what a joke our communications minister is . Why dont we get a couple of spaghetti tins out & poke a hole through each end & tie a string between them & communicate through them Malcolm ? That would probably blowout by 15 Billion dollars also ? Now Streaming providers are shying away from giving the Australian public 4K TV as our speeds are too slow , yet we continue to roll out the FTTN & its Peak 25 mb/s speed . Hey Malcolm , get your bags packed mate because you are on your way out , you have ruined Australia’s largest Infastructure Project , & turned it into a pile of steaming turds , you are the most incompetent person I have ever seen in my life .

  10. Rod is just trying a hail Mary pass to unfuck his legacy of destroying communications competition in Australia.

    Simple as that.

    • Blunt, but true.

      If you look back on the rulings it has only ever been in relation to repeated instigation of some utopic (myopic?) vision of infrastructure competition. The same vision that has almost entirely failed.

      The market may have been a wholly different place, had Telstra been forcibly separated when T1 occurred. But I suspect we’d still be mostly in the same place, today, regardless.

      There is a certain inevitability in the outcome.

  11. In my area we have great ADSL and get Netflix HD without any buffering…..ever.
    Now my building has NBN boxes right outside each of our doors ready to be connected inside.
    I am sticking with copper as long as I can because I get 300Gb per month whereas NBN is 250Gb.
    Not gloating but some areas are spoiled for choice. I feel the pain of those who have bad internet as I have been in that position before (I had dial up and not ADSL and wanted TransACT fibre but it never came to my area) but to some of us getting NBN is like getting a bugatti veyron to go to the local shops….for now at least.

    • “NBN is 250Gb”???
      I see multiple provider’s NBN plans of up to 1Tb of data are available & with a bonus of far faster upload speeds than on ADSL.
      Even our 500GB/month 25/5 Fixed Wireless NBN service (presently ISP speed limited to 25mb/s) is providing average speeds of 23/15 thanks to the NBN’s present FW 50/20 trial.
      On top of that, thanks to the elimination of Line Rental our monthly NBN + phone is now $10/mth cheaper then when we were on ADSL+ phone

    • Sorry Mark, what plans from which RSPs are you comparing with your current plan, and what are the specific details? You’ve provided absolutely no specifics and there is lots of evidence out there that shows NBN plans are more generous and marginally cheaper than their ADSL counterparts, for the most part. Unless you’re moving to Telstra…

  12. This guy is the head of the ACCC, and he is suggesting we create competition by splitting up NBN Co? He should take a peek at the US some time and see how splitting up AT&T into local subsidiaries worked out for them. It was a bit like the magicians apprentice chopping up the broom. It didn’t kill the broom, it created many of them.

    Once they’ve build NBN I recon they should give it to the same mob who manages all other local services – the local councils. I don’t see how a glass pipe carrying light is much different to a plastic one carrying water. If anything it’s simpler to maintain. The complex stuff – retail, backbone, network engineering is mostly handled by the likes of ISP’s and Pipe now.

  13. The problem with this article is that it assumes Rod Sims is operating honestly, with the genuine directive of his office in mind. However his actions and track record don’t demonstrate that – they suggest he (and everyone below him) is either incompetent and incapable of understanding market and competition basics, or he knowingly understands precisely what he’s doing and so is working against the genuine interests of the Australian public.

    Privatisation of an infrastructure supplier means that instead of a government entity operating with a directive to efficiently run a service for the community, balancing sufficient maintenance and customer service to operate a reliable service against pricing that keeps the entity cost neutral to government balance sheets, a privatised entity is required by law to make a return for shareholders, a return that is expected to increase annually. Private companies achieve that by decreasing costs (maintenance, customer service, reduction in quality of components and equipment) and increasing prices, driving an artificial wedge for profit growth. Same infrastructure, same customers, but squeezing an extra 10% profit margin means higher prices and lower quality. How is that in the interests of Australians, unless your definition of ‘Australians’ equates to major shareholders of privatised infrastructure companies…

  14. Someone should point Mr Sims to America.

    Breaking up Bell into “Baby Bells” didn’t fix diddly, it just crated a bunch of monopolies that couldn’t be bothered in investing in infrastructure where other companies operate.

    It’s so bad that even local councils over there are creating their own broadband networks (which the telco monopolies fight tooth and nail) and Internet search companies like Google are rolling out fibre to get more folks access.

    I know Rod is reading from the competition “rulebook”, but that rulebook needs a lot of revision….and maybe an Australian edition…

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