news The NBN company this evening revealed it had purchased some 1800km of brand new copper cable at a cost of about $14 million, to ensure that the Fibre to the Node technology model preferred by Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition Government would function correctly.
NBN chief executive Bill Morrow made the extraordinary admission in a Senate Estimates Committee hearing in Parliament House in Canberra tonight, where the Opposition questioned the NBN company relentlessly on the extent to which Telstra’s copper network would need to be remediated in order to allow the controversial FTTN model to function.
Morrow also acknowledged that the NBN company was needing to ramp up production of copper cable by the company’s partners. The chief company which appears to be producing copper cables for the NBN company is Sydney-based Prysmian, which originally won a contract to supply fibre-optic cable to the NBN company, but is now diversifying into supplying copper as well.
Morrow said the NBN company had sufficient copper for its current needs — about five months’ worth, but would need further copper cables after about five months.
However, Morrow stipulated that the NBN company was not using the cable to replace dilapidated copper in Telstra’s existing copper network between the neighbourhood ‘nodes’ which the NBN company is deploying and customers’ premises.
Instead, the executive noted that the NBN company is primarily using the copper to connect Telstra’s existing distribution ‘pillars’ to the new ‘nodes’ which the NBN company is deploying. In some cases, Morrow noted, Telstra’s distribution pillars could only be a very short distance — right next to — the new NBN nodes.
However, in other cases, the NBN company would have to run a significant amount of brand new copper cable from one of Telstra’s pillars to one of the new nodes, to make the Fibre to the Node model function.
According to Morrow, the company may also have to add new copper cables to areas where there was not sufficient copper pairs running to houses in a certain street, or where the company would need to fix some of the notorious joints that are causing problems in Telstra’s network.
The news comes as the Opposition has been heavily critical of the Fibre to the Node component of the Coalition’s Multi-Technology Mix model for the NBN, especially due the issue that aspects of Telstra’s copper network would need to be replaced.
Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare has described the NBN as “Malcolm Turnbull’s Mess”.
“Massively over budget, behind schedule, a raft of broken promises, an unrealistic roll out plan that doesn’t ramp up until after another election, and dodgy copper that needs to be fixed or is being replaced with more copper,” Clare said in a statement last week.
“The Australian Labor Party is the party that conceived and started building the NBN. A fibre NBN. We are the party of fibre. The Liberal Party is the party of copper. They sold it. They bought it back. And now they are replacing it with new copper.”
Is this real? Surely it’s not real. Someone tell me it’s not real and that I’m just hallucinating after 14 hours straight of Senate Estimates. Right? Right?
Image credit: NBN Co