Forget it: Turnbull won’t return the NBN to a FTTP model


opinion Prime Minister or not, there is simply no way that Malcolm Turnbull is going to reverse five years of bitter campaigning and return the National Broadband Network to its previous near-universal Fibre to the Premises model. So let’s give up hope on that misguided delusion right now and save ourselves a great deal of painful mental anguish.

Ever since Malcolm Turnbull forcibly took the Prime Ministership from Tony Abbott on Monday night this week, there’s been an enticing scent of what I can only call delicious hope floating around Australia’s technology sector.

Abbott, it must be admitted, was the embodiment of everything that Australian technologists fear from our political leaders. On both a policy and a personal level, the Member for Warringah could only be described as a an out-and-out luddite of the most frustrating kind.

Not only was the former seminarian obsessed with dying industries such as coal mining and car manufacturing — both of which are destined to become a mere footnote in Australia’s long-term industrial history — but he appeared fundamentally incapable of understanding any of the deep benefits to accrue from encouraging technological development in the land he governed.

Under Abbott’s watch, funding to Australia’s ICT research, video game development and tech startups was cut down right to the bone. In Opposition, the Liberal Leader farcically declared that the NBN was basically nothing more than some kind of “video entertainment system” and flatly ordered Turnbull to “demolish” it, while in Government Abbott backed draconian Internet filtering and data retention policies that would make Australia’s existing Internet — slow and plagued with problems as it already is — the laughing stock of the developed world.

And of course, Abbott’s luddism infamously extended into his personal life as well. Few can forget the then-Opposition Leader’s laughable declaration to Kerry O’Brien on the 7:30 Report that he was “no Bill Gates”, and he even held out as one of the last parliamentarians to use an outdated BlackBerry smartphone, in an age where Apple and Samsung have become the norm in Parliament House.

It’s true that more in-touch Liberals such as Wyatt Roy eventually did succeed in dragging Abbott to events held by Australia’s fast-growing tech startup sector in the past few months, and the PM was also scheduled to visit Silicon Valley in short order. But his incomplete conversion came too late and Australia’s tech sector had already made up its mind: Abbott is not our friend.

To add one last insult to a thousand injuries, Abbott even grudgingly resigned his short-lived commission by fax to Government House in Canberra. Wow. Who even knew that was still possible?

Little wonder then, that Australia’s tech luminaries instantly claimed Abbott’s shiny new replacement as one of our own. Compared to Abbott, at least on paper, Turnbull looks like a godsend.

The Member for Wentworth’s open interest in the tech sector, his background helping to get one of Australia’s first major Internet service providers off the ground, his cozy fireside video chats with Silicon Valley luminaries, and the largely open door of his office as Communications Minister which let so many startup entrepreneurs and CTOs in — all of this is being taken as evidence right now that Turnbull will be Australia’s first digitally literate Prime Minister.

The final cream on top of this delectable-looking magic pudding, of course, is the fact that Turnbull appears to be personally obsessed with consumer technology.

There are now a thousand photographs of the Duke of Double Bay checking his iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch in the House of Representatives chamber — and even shots where he appears to be accessing all three simultaneously. The phenomenon already has its own parody Instagram account.

One suspects that when Turnbull is eventually deposed in turn — and judging by Australia’s recent history, that may not be that far away, although my gut tells me the Turnbulls will likely be able to settle into the Lodge for the long haul — he will do so via point to point FaceTime, in 4K resolution.

The list of people who have already claimed Turnbull as the golden child (or is it the spry ‘Silver Fox’?) who sprang instantly from the tech sector’s fertile loins is endless.

The chief executives of dozens of local startups have already gushed over the new PM’s tech credentials. Industry groups such as StartupAUS, the Communications Alliance, the Australian Information Industry Association, the Australian Computer Society and Internet Australia have all weighed in.

And the list of things these organisations are already breathlessly expecting from Turnbull is just as endless.

If you believe what you read, within a very short time after taking office the new PM will deliver a plan to transform Australia’s economy into an innovation powerhouse, restore funding to key tech policy areas, reform government IT service delivery and perhaps even roll back the extremely unpopular data retention policy, as well as returning the NBN to the near-universal fibre model which many people have long suspected the Member for Wentworth personally prefers. All of Malcolm’s real views will be revealed and the heavenly gates will open. The great father, in his wisdom, will provide.

And this just in the first year. In year two, the Earl of Wentworth will probably discover how to turn water into wine. Wine that can be fed into renewable energy generators. That will power a datacentre in every home, fuelling the new tech startup-based economy. That can then list on the Nasdaq.

You get the picture.

Now, there is no doubt that Turnbull will absolutely do some of this. He will be a better PM for Australia’s tech community than Abbott ever was (of course, this would not be hard — a half-eaten onion could probably do that).

I am sure that we will see our new PM shift the emphasis of the Government’s economic strategy towards harnessing innovation, rather than abjectly blocking it. Over the next few years, there is no doubt the tech sector’s views will find a much stronger welcome in Canberra. And tech-savvy MPs such as Roy and others on the Liberal side of the fence will flourish in this environment, creating an even larger halo effect. We are now in a new world.

This is great. Turnbull is not Abbott, and Australia’s tech sector will indeed benefit from that.

But let’s just get one thing straight right now: Things will not be as good as many people are expecting.

The first thing to realise about Malcolm Turnbull’s ascension to the Prime Ministership is that it instantly demotes the importance of Australia’s technology sector in the Member for Wentworth’s mind.

As Communications Minister, Turnbull was expected to spend a great of time dealing with the problems of Australia’s technology sector. And he had the time to do so. Communications is a relatively junior portfolio within the Federal Government, representing Turnbull’s political role as a necessary but unwanted part of Abbott’s Cabinet. Turnbull had a relatively small department to oversee — a department with relatively few critical functions. He also had the space to harness the hype factor of the tech sector to help keep his profile high to further his ambitions.

But as Prime Minister, Turnbull and his staff now have a thousand greater priorities, chief among them overseeing Australia’s foreign affairs relationships, defence forces, national security, intelligence and economic portfolios. The ministers and many of the senior bureaucrats from all of these areas will be in and out of his office on a daily basis, conducting a thousand briefings on a thousand urgent matters. In fact, they already are.

Meanwhile, the industry megaliths of every sector — giants like BHP from mining, Woolworths and Coles from retail, the major banks and so on — will be beating a path to his door to make their demands. Visiting dignitaries from foreign countries will also be presenting their credentials.

Initially, Turnbull — like that other famous micromanager, Kevin Rudd — will seek to get across as much of this incessant detail as possible. Then he will start delegating as much as possible. But eventually, most Prime Ministers — and, in fact, most Ministers and even normal MPs in critical positions — get overrun. Eventually, the new PM will just be trying to keep things above water.

While this is happening, the tech issues that Turnbull currently professes to care so much about will fall almost completely off the radar as the Member for Wentworth tries to make decisions about which terrorists really need arresting this week and whether the Foreign Minister of Ireland is important enough to make time for on Wednesday morning before 10.

The reality is that there are very few tech issues or tech companies in Australia whose needs will be urgent enough to ensure an appointment with Turnbull or his team. And those that are important — such as the ongoing topic of the NBN — will be outsourced to a trusted lieutenant (probably Senator Simon Birmingham, I would guess) — who will keep Communications under wraps for the new PM so that he doesn’t get face any unpleasant ‘surprises’ from his former portfolio.

Then, too, there are certain things that Malcolm Bligh Turnbull will just not do, no matter if he is Prime Minister or the Emperor of Japan. There are already things on the industry’s wish-list which our new PM will just reject out of hand.

At this point, there is no doubt that Turnbull regards issues such as Data Retention, Internet piracy and the National Broadband Network as being completely settled and barely worthy of a new Prime Minister’s notice.

Many in the technology sector expect him to revist these topics. I have received many emails and messages over the past week from technologists who believe Turnbull now has the power to prosecute his true views, overturning the Data Retention or Internet Piracy bills, for example.

This simply will not happen. Not only will Turnbull want to avoid bringing up such divisive issues so early in his Prime Ministership, but his immediate need is to bring his party together, rather than re-introduce previously settled issues that have the potential to drive it apart.

Chief among the things Turnbull will not do, of course, is return the NBN to Labor’s FTTP model.

If Turnbull did this — or, in fact, if he makes any moves to tinker with the NBN at all — it would be an open admission that the tragic path he has forced on the tortured project was not the right one, and was actually done completely for political expediency.

This is true, but it is something that Turnbull can never publicly admit or take any action on. Turnbull has been, at times, publicly enraged by what he has continually alleged was Labor’s foolhardy waste of money by pursuing an all-fibre path for the NBN. Any move back to that model would prove that rage false. Such an act would open him up to claims of hypocrisy and give the lie to five years of forceful statements the Member for Wentworth has been making on the issue, unleashing a Labor attack squadron on his weak spot just when he needs it least.

In the House of Representatives yesterday afternoon, Labor tried just this stunt, with MPs lining up to agree with my article earlier in the week that Turnbull had been ‘Australia’s worst ever Communications Minister’ and one even reading out a portion of the article into Hansard. But the effort fell short, because Turnbull has every intention of staying his course on the NBN and not leaving any gap open for Labor to exploit.

If all this sounds a little depressing, that’s becasue it is the real-world nature of politics. This game is a team sport, and even a leader like Turnbull has to play by its rules and make sure his guys are on his side — or else he will be relegated to a waste product as a half-dozen of his immediate succesors already have been.

All of these factors mean that little will change in the short to medium term for Australian technologists under a Turnbull Prime Ministership.

None of this is to say that opportunities don’t exist, however.

Many of these will revolve around next year’s Federal Budget, which parts of the Federal Government are already feverishly working on preparing. The amounts of money or tax breaks needed by Australia’s technology sector for a few key areas to grow — the video game development industry, say, or the VC community — are so small as to constitute low-hanging fruit which it may be possible to get through a fresh Turnbull Cabinet quickly. And there are also a couple of similarly innocuous pieces of legislation which could also have a huge impact. The already passed Employee Share Schemes bill is a good example of the sort of small-scale thing I mean.

But don’t expect anything grand from the Earl of Wentworth any time soon.

Political change, when it comes in Canberra, can strike like lightning, creating shock and awe in a flash. When it does, it always seems to open a huge number of new doors simultaneously. But it’s wise to remember that policy change comes much slower — usually only after years and years of relentless lobbying and, in many cases, big cash donations in the election cycle.

Better than Abbott on technology? Certainly. But Malcolm Turnbull is not the tech sector’s Messiah. He’s just a very savvy boy.

Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull


  1. If things change even slightly, I’ll be highly surprised. As near as I can tell, the objective of politics these days is the destroy the country as efficiently as possible, while obtaining maximum personal gain to shield oneself from the inevitable fallout. If that’s not the case, then it’s usually some special interest group pushing their own personal barrow with little impact to the rest of society (but they’ll tell you it is, of course).

    Unless you’re looking to line your own pockets in some way, politics in Australia is a dead end. What we’ll see from Turnbull will be no different. The people are a resource to be mined that is occasionally an inconvenience.

    • Only the Liberals seem to be hell bent on destruction. No idea how the hell they expect to win the election, perhaps they prefer the opposition benches as they can do no work and complain about everything.

      Labor were busy trying to fix things at least, but then people bitch about how much it costs.

      Before the Liberals got in, I knew I was getting two things. One was an electric train service (state government only had some of the money), and a fibre NBN connection. Both changed from late delivery under Labor, to never under the Liberals.

      Enjoy going down in history as the man who spent billions on a broadband network built out of junk! Nothing you can do to change that Turnbull.

    • It’s all about the foreign investor: this is globalisation and mining companies own the world by bamboozling the governments with expolitable resources. Look up “Jevons Paradox”… you can’t blame the rich for protecting/monopolising/oligopolising their assetts when push comes to shove.

      Australians don’t need to innovate their way out of oldish/newish(!??!) money cabals… not if slaves have no choices they won’t!

  2. He was never going back down he would be a laughing stock after all his reviews. The gold medal for the dogs breakfast he has created is entirely his.

    • He already is a laughing stock after all his reviews, the joke just goes over most peoples heads.

      • The joke doesn’t go over most peoples heads: people that vote liberal inherit money so do so as a debt of gratitude. Most wealth is inherited and it is the most known fact of all humanity!

    • Yeah I’d also formed this opinion based on Turbull’s pronouncements that the Lib Party Policies created under Abbott would not be thrown out.

  3. I agree. I think Turnbull is far too invested politically in FTN after all these years of singing its praises to let it go now. He has plenty of opportunity to do it already if he wanted to (e.g he could have given Scenario 4 a fair hearing, he could have sought the efficiencies be implemented from Project Fox et. al. to increase the brownfield FTTP footprint instead actively decreasing it, etc etc).
    On top of all that, his ego wouldn’t allow such a change either.

  4. I’m giving him til Christmas to show his intent one way or the other. He either sticks to the party line of luddism, or enforces a more progressive tech stance thanks to his experience in the field.

    If its the first one, hang him, and hang him high, but if he starts changing things, judge him on that.

    Much of what he did as Comms minister would have been dictated to him by Abbott, lets give him time to unwind that before reaching conclusions. I’m not a fan of the standard Liberal policies but I’m not going to condemn him 3 days into the job.

    • Much of what he did as Comms minister would have been dictated to him by Abbott, lets give him time to unwind that before reaching conclusions.

      Most of what Turnbull did as Comms Minister, would have been dictated by himself, and the policies set forth. Abbott isn’t a details man; beyond “destroy the NBN” there was precious little directive.

      The LNP will not change tack on NBN, it’s gone too far down the path. People are tired of the politics. I’d rather see what’s left is built. We’ve had enough reviews, they need to get the job done.

      Even Labor understands, there’s no value rewinding the clock.

      • Not saying otherwise, but “destroy the NBN” wouldnt have left much wriggle room. Abbott sanctioned or vetoed ministers, and the ministers were pretty much there to do the bosses bidding.

        In this case, destroy the NBN. Turnbull did as good a job as possible in translating “destroy the NBN” into the MTM, and at least have SOME progression. Up to the individual to decide if they think it was enough, or if the reasons were valid or justifiable. I dont for the record.

        But Abbott was in charge. Dont for a second think that Turnbull could have ninja built a FttP based system under Abbott, THAT was never something he’d pull off. But now its not Abbott pulling the strings, and its HIM making the decisions, then “destroy the NBN” is just an Abbott-era issue.

        Its up to Turnbull to show whether that mentality was limited to Abbott, or the party as a whole. And as I said, I give him to Christmas to show one way or the other.

  5. Absolutely spot-on Renai. Probably the best thing you have written.

    The mistake that many commentators make is to assume that we live in a democracy, and that the likes of Turnbull can change policy at will. This is so very wrong. The truth is that both sides of politics are there to implement the policies of the “One Percent” and Big Business.

    Those who have studied the technical history of Australia will know how the establishment has bitterly fought each new technical advance. Everything from sealed radios in the ’20’s to encrypted “free-To-air” satellite TV in the ’80’s. Likewise the original NBN represented a huge threat to old-school media and had to be stopped. Rudd caught the establishment by surprise in trying to implement a universal Fiber Network, and a mad panic ensured to stop him.

    When Prime Minister Abbot made his speech to the IPA he laid out in detail the policies he had promised to implement. These policies bore little resemblance to the promises he had made to the Australian public. Those promises of course were expendable.

    The role of Australian Politicians (especially the Liberal Coalition) is to implement the IPA wish list regardless of public opinion. If they do, their masters have promised to manage the fall-out for them. The role of the politician is to keep smiling and press on regardless.

    Abbot became unsupportable due to his idiosyncrasies, but now that Turnbull is in charge it will be back to “business as usual”.

    • “The mistake that many commentators make is to assume that we live in a democracy, and that the likes of Turnbull can change policy at will.”

      But at least the electorate can change governments at will…as even Churchill suffered after HIS finest hour. There was a time when first term governments were considered invincible. And these days the mainstream media has more competitors and therefore less influence.

      • “But at least the electorate can change governments at will…”

        And if all the major parties are funded by same wealthy few, and the media is likewise controlled? As above, you make the assumption that we live in a democracy. History shows that it is a carefully managed illusion.

        Go back and read the lies as Whitlam was deposed because he tried to set up a Norwegian type Wealth fund from our mining royalties.

        Likewise go back and read the carefully cultivated hysteria generated when Rudd proposed the FFTH network.

        Anyone who had been involved in network planning, whether in Universities, Government Departments, Telstra, etc, had long understood that a universal Fiber Network was rapidly becoming the only option. In reality the original NBN design was the outcome of years of planning and negotiation behind the scenes. But then lying politicians and shock jocks suddenly started on about Rudd’s NBN having been “designed on the back of an envelope, during a plane flight”.

        It took me a while to understand just what this was about, but suddenly the penny dropped. The establishment couldn’t expect to silence the academic and financial network studies, but they did think that they had steered it’s direction and controlled the outcome, but when Rudd announced his FFTH NBN they were horrified.

        The “back of the Envelope” claim was of course a clumsy lie, but it did nicely illustrate how Rudd had hit a nerve and caught then unawares.

        So of course the NBN had to be brought down by yet another campaign of hysterical lies. I won’t regurgitate them all here. They are well covered at the NBN Myths site:

        Even today, these now discredited lies are regularly trotted out in the mainstream media.

        So much for our Democracy.

  6. An article from over the ditch about Malcolm and the NBN
    “There was, of course, no good reason to redesign the NBN into the awkward mess it is today. Even the political justifications were weak because people want better broadband, not worse, but the “tech Prime Minister” ignored all that.

    It’s unlikely that Turnbull’s successor in the comms portfolio will be able to reverse course and get the NBN back on track to become a worthwhile investment for the Australian taxpayer.

    In other words, if Australians want better broadband, they need to not only look across the Tasman for inspiration, but also move over here.”

    And for a potted history of the self made man

    Nothing will change to any worthwhile degree, just a slicker salesman selling the gilded highly polished dog eggs

  7. I see one ‘out’ for Mal here – a way to dodge the bullet of finding himself hated by half the Australian population in ten years when there is a high cost to return and install FTTP or truckloads of Australian born tech companies have left the nation. They are all about utilising copper, they are all about avoiding labors 90% ish number for fibre to the premises and the LOVE to mention G.Fast when criticisms of speed are leveled at them (them being Malcolm,Morrow and other NBN high ups besides Simon Hackett) and pretend like its a straight swap of modules without digging required to go from VDSL to these 200+ mbps speeds they quote (even a gigabit!) – therefore the best idea for them could be to begin their FTTN in areas where users are gonna be a stones throw from the node and G.Fast can feasibly be achieved there later with minimum fuss – while this is occurring divert all available resources to gearing up for fibre to the curb elsewhere .

    heres hoping that Mal being PM will continue to make the greens and Labor focus on the NBN (wow it exists again Bill!) in an effort to mud sling (deservingly ) at him

    • I’m not sure Malcolm will care if he is hated in 10 years time. He will be retired, on a lovely big Government pension living in his multi-million dollar mansion, with his millions of dollars to his name.

    • I think people are over-estimating the importance and traction FTTP over shrill “death-cult” and boat people politicking.

      There’s no mileage to be made; Labor is stuck with a dud leader, who doesn’t know how to oppose, or even understand the importance of the role; and the Greens could only effect outcome, if there’s a minority government formed.

        • But he does cost the country a lot of money for doing not really anything at all.

          • Absolutely not Richard, Abbott was a buffoon. Shorten needs to oppose the bad policy in an intelligent way, not with 3 word slogans and outrageous exaggerations.

  8. Spot on analysis as always Renai. Extra points awarded for finishing with a hilarious ‘Life of Brian’ analogy :)

  9. As I pointed out last night:

    “Apart from the idiocy of suggesting Turnbull, of all people, would kick off his Prime Ministership with a complete backflip on everything he’s said and done over the past five years, Turnbull’s statements themselves demonstrate he is not minded to do any such thing – he has spent his life trying to convince people he is a man of logic and reason, which is a vital negotiating tactic of his. If he backflips on this, no one will believe another word he ever says (instead of it just being limited to the proportionately small number of educated, knowledgeable people, usually in ICT/IT/Science fields). Remember this?

    “The Labor Government has not been honest with the public about the NBN. They never conducted a cost benefit analysis, they have sought at every turn to conceal the fact that the project has been failing to meet its targets.

    We will bring the public into our confidence. We will open the books of the NBN.” And then we will close them again!

    “The NBN debate is not over – but I am determined to ensure that from now on it is at least fully informed.”

    “Democracy? I don’t think so.”

    So, according to Turnbull, he has opened up the NBN to provide complete transparency, to ensure the debate is fully informed. What possible logic could he apply that then says ‘New NBN modelling has demonstrated that a full FTTP rollout will be at least slightly cheaper than FTTN for 70% of Australians.’?? Who would he have to throw under the bus for that one? The NBN Co management team, which he appointed? The Strategic Review and his appointees that conducted it? How could he possibly manage such a change of direction without getting egg on his face?

    No, the only way the NBN could drop FTTN and shift back to FTTP on the LNP’s watch would be to throw Malcolm and every one of his appointees under the bus, find them criminally negligent, and then use that as an excuse to drop the policy. Any other move would damage the party too much.

    Remember Australia, you voted for this. You have the NBN you asked for. Strap in and enjoy the ride – you’re sure to get your money’s worth on this one.”

    We are on the same page on this one, Renai.

    • “Democracy? I don’t think so.”

      reminds me of this:

      Malcolm Turnbull has sternly rejected an online petition which has so far garnered more than 200,000 signatures calling for the Coalition to support Labor’s all-fibre NBN policy, with the Communications Minister-elect claiming it wouldn’t be “democracy” for the new Coalition Government to reverse the rival NBN policy it took to the election.

    • The CBA line has always pissed me off. It deliberately ignores standard accounting practices, just to earn political brownie points. A CBA is only relevant when there is a cost. Thats the C part of CBA. And a cost is determined by whatever the final cost to the investor is.

      FttP, having a wholesale monopoly, could be easily predicted to show X revenue (for arguments sake, 5m accts @ $23/month), or near enough, and extrapolating out to a profit range. Which went back to investors, ultimately ending in zero cost to investors and the Government. Cost = nil, and benefit is a positive.

      MTM cant guarantee that, because the door is immediately open for private investment in FttP development. If Telstra builds its own FttP network, every person connecting to that FttP is one less person giving wholesale revenue to NBN. MTM cant guarantee a return on investment.

      The CBA argument should have been shut down 5 years ago instead of letting fester into some sort of rationalisation. Its not an expected report for capital investment when the investment is being paid back. It never has been, so why was the NBN expected to do one?

      • Even if Labor had performed a CBA on their original NBN and it returned results showing we should build it, I don’t really think we would be in a different situation now.

        Abbott and by extension the entire LNP were out for blood and opposing for the sake of opposing. We’d still be stuck with this ridiculous situation.

        • Agreed, the FTTP Labor vision was a political coup after years of Telstra bleeding the Australian public under Luddite Alston and his vision of “the market will provide”. Everyone knew it.

          Completing the CBA under Labor wouldn’t have mattered, destroying it was a matter of ideological pride and a ‘new and improved’ CBA would have been created showing that not only was the FTTP model cray-cray expensive and slow and expensive – did we mention expensive, but also Labor were fraudulently incompetent in the CBA review. Based on the rhetoric from opposition and from within the new government (anyone remember debt-and-deficit disaster) anyone outside of the tech industry would have believed it.

        • Yeah Abbot was and always will be a ‘no’ man. There wasn’t a single thing he ever really agreed to in opposition and just outright opposed everything.

          There’s blocking everything and then there’s refining the stuff thats actually going to let the country function (to keep the govt honest etc).

  10. Indeed Renai – in fact, I’d add that what we have now is arguably WORSE than Abbott.

    At least we knew where he stood on these things – Turnbull is nothing but a slick, media-savvy salesman and will use whatever words are at his disposal to get the required sell-job done whenever he speaks.

    We can only hope his silver tongue is his eventual undoing.

    In the words of my ol’ Grandpappy: “They’re crooks, all of ’em”.

    • I’d add that what we have now is arguably WORSE than Abbott.

      Good point, he knows better but to hold onto his newly acquired power he is keeping the all of the Luddite, science hating, regressive policies in place.

    • Significantly worse, because we’ve gone from a fairly certain thing (kicking the LNP out next year) to an unlikely outcome in just a few days. It’s entirely possible the honeymoon period won’t last right through to the next election, but given the number of journalists and professional commentators who have been successfully bamboozled by Turnbull’s tactics it wouldn’t surprise me of he had a landslide victory against Shorten.

      Now Albanese, that’s a whole other story…

  11. He does have an out.
    He can reframe the NBNs objectives to 60 years and providing a more sensible minimum service level.
    Say under his government they will be looking at the long term future of Australia, not short term politics.

    NBN will then still roll some FTTN, but aim for much lower speeds as a minimum. As such you can roll out much faster, and much cheaper than if you try to bash FTTN into providing “final solution” speeds.
    Presto in 3 years you have everybody on the NBN, and everybody has at least a slightly better connection.

    Now you are getting a buttload of cash every month, use that money to replace the expensive/slow/crap bits of FTTN with FTTP over time, in 10 years you have a HFC + FTTP network, then you can start overbuilding the HFC network. By having a finite end point for the HFC network, you will know how much money to spend on upgrading it, rather than treating it as a final solution and blowing squillions on it.

    (I’d keep the copper running in the HFC areas too, if people are getting enough service out of that for their needs then there is no point moving them to HFC)

    • You can really aim for any lower speeds as a minimum than their current situation of “maybe you’ll get 25Mbit a second at sometime during the day probably during the middle of the night when everyone is sleeping”.

  12. A question for Renai- has MT ever personally committed to a particular percentage mix of technologies as part of the MTM? I can’t remember any such comment (only the opposite), in which case while it might not be politically feasible to completely drop FTTN, there may be some opportunity to let it wither away and return to a mix with a much larger FTTP component. Particularly if the new mix classifies any FTTB as FTTN (which just happens to be in the basement). If prioritised, I would expect that to give a significant boost to FTTN premises passed/active stats, particularly in the short term where his association to the NBN is still relevant…

    While this may still be wishful thinking, out would also avoid any longer term political problem when FTTN upgrades become more of a necessity- for MT as leader, I would expect (the appearance of) good fiscal judgement to be a significant issue, or if NBN turns bad a vulnerability, whereas a minor change of percentage mix for a portfolio he is no longer directly involved in, effected by a new minister (and demonstrating MT’s ability to lead in a non-dictatorial way at the same time) may be less risky.

    • That’s what I expect will happen, the mix will change a bit.

      Malcolm is on record saying they’ll replace copper with fibre in areas where the copper just isn’t up to it.

      NBNCo (screw their new branding, 700k wasted IMHO :p), is aiming for 38% FttN/20% FttP, but I doubt they’ll get there, it’s more likely/possible that it’ll end up being more even between them (given the reported state of the CAN and the fact Telstra sold the copper “sight unseen”…you don’t do that unless the thing your selling is a lemon).

  13. > pursuing an all-fibre path for the NBN. Any move back to that model would prove that rage false.

    You also had commercial contracts for FTTN model that are fixed and legally binding agreements. Someone like Jim K could provide some explanation on this

    • “You also had commercial contracts for FTTN model that are fixed and legally binding agreements”

      But can be bought out and renegotiated…

      At the end of the day, no matter how it shakes out, the Coalition has made broadband in Australia more expensive and slower to be available.

  14. I don’t know – people love their video entertainment systems. The MTM will create (even bigger) disparities between the broadband available to people living next door to each other, and as high bandwidth applications become more common it will be increasingly untenable.
    I doubt Turnbull cares too much what he has said in the past. Look at his stance on the satellites.

  15. And people still think there’s an ‘out’ or a chance arrggh.

    MT is a died in the wool party member. He’s not about to bight the small hand that is feeding him (5 members vote the otherway and he doesn’t win!) the PMship and revert or even tinker with Liberal party current policies. Certainly not before the election and after that possibly only in small ways like Renai stated.

    I also don’t agree with Renai on the whole OZEmail making malcom a tech guru either. Honestly it puts him more into a VC frame than anything else (lest we forget how the OZEmail saga finished up) he bought into a VC style startup which rode the boom and cashed out before the bust.

    You wouldn’t put MT on a tech firms board to drive tech innovation (probably scare off a lot of shareholders if you did).

    I’m not saying he’s a luddite just that he’s no more a tech genius than any other VC personage that’s rode a dotcom boom company up and cashed out at the right time. Just makes him a very smart businessman.

  16. The only way to get this government to substantially increase the FTTH footprint, is to replace it with a Labor government.

  17. Yep its a simple answer to the question of getting the Labour NBN, it will not be resurrected until I am dead and buried. It will not happen in my lifetime. Our political system is controlled by the 1% and they dont want anyone here to get a fibre broadband network as it affects their profit margins. Democracy is an illusion your best chance is to ignore politics and always vote independent or Green, so they government of the day has not got a majority. I think I might move to NZ where their government makes reasonable choices on behalf of its people.

  18. Inclined to agree with the drive of the article, but I suspect we’re likely to see “policy setting adjustments”

    In the case of the NBN, that would be maintaining the mixed technology version while increasing the percentage of FTTP. Same policy keeps the Liberal right happy-ish, different settings keeps the industry followers happy-ish – and, provided the cost doesn’t explode, no one else cares.

    Keeping both sides’ partisans mired in the minutiae of policy settings also keeps them away from making a comprehensible-to-the-layperson fuss in the mainstream media.

  19. Optic Fibre telecommunications is the worlds most important service, without it civilization is dead a crash program for an Optical Fibre NBN regardless of the cost is essential for our survival. It is Governments most urgent project, well above obsolete roads and mines.

    It’s a brave new world that few politicians understand, if they do the fear in their hearts prevent them from ever mentioning what the future holds. Few people understand the new world. They are ever obsessed with “normal” in Europe, Japan and the US there is the huge problem of economic growth being in the negative which in the end because of the rules of mathematics the fractional reserve banking system must fail.

    That means the entire loan book the banks so called assets or everybody’s deposits will be wiped out of existence either by a bail in where the deposits are seized or by a bail out with it ensuing hyper inflation. These are these only 2 ways the mathematical problem of non growth can be solved, the results the same either you have no money or your money is worthless.

    Back to “normal” the politicians just want things to get back to “normal” and the people want things to get back to “normal”. “Normality” is an illusion, the economic system we have lived by for a century that is regarded as “normal” isn’t, it’s been a fleetingly brief era of huge rises in living standards based entirely on the energy surplus of oil production (that’s the amount of energy left as “freebee” to society after the costs of production and distribution are met). The industrialized society has been living on free energy, which has allowed a mathematically impossible financial system to run, all interest payments are met out of “growth” without growth the interest payments cannot be met. That’s why we have rescissions growth falls, debts can’t be paid businesses fail don’t invest and unemployment rises.

    The chickens have come home to roost. Oil production at a price under 70-80 per barrel has flatlined over the last 10 years, all new production is priced much higher than this. The oil surplus energy freebee is disappearing as a much greater amount of the total energy is actually used to produce and distribute. The cheap high surplus oil is quickly being replaced by high cost low surplus oil. High cost low surplus oil is, shale fracked oil, deep water offshore oil, tar sands, mined shale cooked oil, Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and similar coal to oil technologies and high defence cost production where the military costs have to be factored in.

    No other energy production system has such a large “surplus”, the worlds transport system is dependent on this surplus.

    Therefore the world’s resource base can no longer support growth. “Growth” means “growth” it means the banking system is also dependent on population growth. “Growth” means more people have to buy more goods and services which requires more resource production.

    Growth is an exponential (that is, has a logarithmic doubling time. If a politician says he wants the really good sounding 3.5% growth per annum, what he means is he wants the economy to double in size in 20 years, that means a 50% growth in population and resource production) this kind of growth cannot be sustained on a finite planet, it’s self evident.

    Politics now is really about “managed decline” not rising standards of living. The already dead industries are the automobile industry and it’s huge unaffordable infrastructure tail that occupies a third of our living space. The airline infrastructure and it’s associated infrastructure tail.

    Society will need to be a ZPG model, it will have to be based on low energy using infrastructure. Transport will be rail (light and heavy), bicycles and walking. Cities will need to be compact, dense, house sizes under 100sqm and roads largely eliminated, the turn of the century models of Glebe an Newtown are the perfect example. The fantasy world of electric cars can’t exist the electrolyte lithium carbonate is unable to sustain mass production and the energy surplus required for an electric car system doesn’t exist.

    Fibre Optic telecommunications is an absolute essential the whole future of the world is utterly dependent on it. Shopping at stores will disappear all goods will be delivered from warehouses and bought online. All visits to services medical, education and the hosts of things that people now do by car, seeing Government agencies, lawyers, architects will be done by telecommunications. Whole sectors of society will be eliminated as the low travel economies evolve. The whole finance sector will be severely restricted and people will have no access to any consumer finance and probably only ever have one home loan.

  20. Turnbull’s new minister for communications is Mitch Fifield (who), he looks like Helen Coonan, lets hope the likeness ends there. He’s amply qualified he has a Bachelor of Arts degree (well who doesn’t). I wish I could tell you there is more to him but there isn’t.
    Turnbull got a no-body in a port folio going no-where.

    • Interesting, he’s certainly one of the less controversial liberal’s so I assume that means he’s a moderate. I’m happy to give him a chance to put things back on track but somehow I doubt we’ll see much improvement.

      • @Derek,
        I’m amazed at your optimism and willingness to give this guy a go, personally I gave up on this crowd years age. Remember the petition they sent to Turnbull with almost 300,000 signatures on it. To reinstate FTTH and Turnbull brushed it to one side with out a second thought.

        • Yeah then I remembered his pay inept efforts in the NBN Senate grains and changed my mind.

  21. Abbot, a Luddite? I don’t think so. From Etymology Online: “…name taken by an organized band of weavers who destroyed machinery in Midlands and northern England 1811-16 for fear it would deprive them of work.” No new technology was ever going to deprive Tony Abbot of work.

    So he used a fax to send his resignation. Guess what is still the most secure method of electronic comms? And the Blackberry? Guess what is still the most secure “smart” phone?

    But yes, I agree that Turnbull is not likely to overturn any of his previous orders any time soon. Just for example, the sheer cost of an NBNCo U-turn makes any major change stupidly expensive, but also note that NBNCo have already stated flatly that where Telstra’s copper is unsuitable then FTTP is more than likely to be substituted. But that won’t be everywhere, more’s the pity.

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