Watch: 1800km of new copper ‘simply part of NBN architecture’, says Turnbull


news Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has defended the NBN company’s purchase of 1800km of brand new copper from repeated attacks by the Opposition in Question Time, telling the Parliament yesterday that the copper cable was “simply part of the architecture” of the NBN company’s new Multi-Technology Mix approach.

The Opposition spent much of yesterday’s Question Time in the House of Representatives repeatedly hounding Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull regarding what Labor described as his “second-rate” National Broadband Network vision, with the NBN company’s purchase of 1800km of brand new copper cable a particular topic of ridicule.

In the hour that is allocated for Questions without Notice in the House of Representatives on each Parliamentary Sitting Day, it is usual for the the Opposition to put a wide variety of questions to various Government ministers, including the Prime Minister.

However, in yesterday’s session — provoked by a number of details about the current state of the NBN project revealed in the prior night’s Senate Estimates hearings — the Opposition repeatedly pursued Turnbull over the NBN issue. As Communications Minister, Turnbull was the driving force behind changing the NBN from a near-universal fibre model to a ‘Multi-Technology Mix’ approach that re-uses the copper and HFC cable networks owned by Telstra and Optus.

In Senate Estimates hearings on Tuesday night, NBN chief executive Bill Morrow revealed the NBN company 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.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said in Question Time: “Last night in Senate estimates it was revealed that the government has already ordered 1,800 kilometres worth of copper to make its second-rate NBN work. That is almost enough copper to run between here and Alice Springs!

Prime Minister, how much more copper will you need to make your second-rate version of the NBN work? And why is the government investing in 20th century copper when Australia really needs a 21st century national broadband network?”

This question was followed up several more questions from Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare. Clare said: “Before the last election, the Prime Minister promised that he would build his second-rate version of the NBN for 29½ billion dollars. The NBN corporate plan now reveals that the cost of his second-rate version of the NBN will now cost almost double that, up to $56 billion. Does the Prime Minister admit that this massive blow-out is a broken promise?”

And in a second, later question, Clare added: “Before the last election the now Prime Minister promised that all Australians would have access to internet speeds of 25 megabits per second by the end of 2016. Does the Prime Minister admit that this is another broken promise?”

In response, Turnbull defended the use of copper.

“The design of the fibre-to-the-node network does require some new copper to connect the nodes to the existing pillars. That is simply part of the architecture,” he said, echoing comments by Morrow in Senate Estimates.

“The NBN has ordered additional copper, but I have to say that so far the existing copper network between the nodes to customers’ houses has not required anything like the level of remediation that had been assumed. Now, it is early days, but it may be that rumours of the terrible state of the Telstra copper network have been a little exaggerated.”

The Prime Minister also spent a great deal of time criticising the previous Labor Government’s model for the NBN.

“The simple fact of the matter is this: had we continued with the Labor Party’s approach to the NBN, the project would have taken another $30 billion more and taken six to eight years longer. That is a fact,” Turnbull said.

“The simple fact of the matter is this: if Labor were to win the next election then Australians who are waiting for good broadband now would have to wait up to eight years longer. Labor’s policy is more money and more waiting.”

“The Labor government, incumbent with the company, with access to the company systems, did not even know how much it was costing to connect a premises with fibre. They were clueless—absolutely clueless; clueless, and wasting billions of dollars.”

“We actually now know what the project is costing, and we know what the alternatives are, and the facts are that if we were to proceed with the Labor Party’s alternative it would take six to eight years longer and cost up to $30 billion more. So I say to honourable members opposite: to your constituents who do not have access to very fast broadband now and want it, your message is, ‘Vote Labor and wait longer.”

“The honourable members go on about copper. The approach that we are taking—the mixed technology approach—is the same as is being taken by British Telecom, by Deutsche Telekom, by Swiss telecom and by AT&T. It may be that honourable members opposite know more about telecommunications than all of those big telcos, but I doubt it.”

“I actually think that those big telcos and other nations have got a pretty good handle on this, and the approach we are taking is a very powerful one. I can give one example, just on the Central Coast where the FTTN rollout is occurring, where a gentleman who lived some distance from the node had said he wanted to pay to have fibre pulled to his house nonetheless. And the NBN can do that. Once he was connected and was getting over 60 megabits per second download speed, he said, ‘That’s fantastic. I don’t need fibre to the premises.”

Video credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting


  1. Lucky for the NBN he backed out of cable, or they’d have to explain why he can’t have it anytime soon, amirite?

  2. “We actually now know what the project is costing”

    Give or take $10 billion a small trifle of tax payers funds!

  3. “The simple fact of the matter is this: had we continued with the Labor Party’s approach to the NBN, the project would have taken another $30 billion more and taken six to eight years longer. That is a fact,” Turnbull said.

    Wouldn’t that be misleading the parliment

    • Sadly he’s quoting documents from NBN so he’d just blame them instead if it came to it. No different than the 100million price tag that was plucked out of the ether before the election.

      Also depends on what figures he’s basing those stats on sounds a bit like the MTM estimates prior to the election.

      • Nope he is quoting the CP15 when he say 6-8 years longer. Which is the case if they went back to doing FTTP not if they had continued FTTP.

        • This is the sticking point that Richard et al cannot comprehend, instead of buggerising around with more negotiations with Telstra, more trials of other technologies and spending money on that, they could have just continued with Scenario 2, radically reworking the FTTP rollout, or gone with Scenario 4, HFC in HFC area and FTTP elsewhere (other than Wireless and Satellite which remains the same under both plans).

          No, now we have CP15 comparing the current MTM with some mythical Scenario 1.5 which has to also accomodate all the costs and blowouts that they have experienced since taking power 2 years ago.

          Apparently, those costs should be included in the costings for FTTP because they weren’t at all incurred by trying to switch the course of the ship after launch or anything…

    • @Jason K

      Wouldn’t that be misleading the parliment

      No, this is misleading the Parliament:

      “The Labor government, incumbent with the company, with access to the company systems, did not even know how much it was costing to connect a premises with fibre. They were clueless—absolutely clueless; clueless, and wasting billions of dollars.”

      as it’s demonstrably untrue – many many senate hearing have covered the costs of the FTTP roll-out in detail.

  4. Turnbull saying the word “Fact” doesn’t actually make it fact, you do know this correct?

    • It’s a very lawyer and barrister tactic to say “fact” when it’s actually an opinion. It must be some shit that they are taught at their law school crap shoot. Or it’s just a bit of aristocracy: if I say it then it’s a fact you peasant. Back to work serf! I’ve got a party to go to with a marble table to jump all over.

  5. People are aware that in mid 2013 all State and Federal politicians were connected to fibre to the premises internet if it was technically possible? If Renai reads this can he confirm?

    Malcolm. Enjoying the fibre at work. And I bet he’s got it in home. And his share portfolio includes FTTP. But for us common scum it’s copper for us. What the hell happened? As an 80’s kid I heard “fibre optics is going to change the planet” every 5 minutes. Nobody ever said “copper will change the world” once.

  6. Fact Check – Is the NBN Multi-Technology Mix (MTM) model actually new?

    Firstly, the definition of “Multi-Technology Mix”

    Multi: more than one; many.
    Technology: The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.
    Mix: two or more different qualities, things, or people placed, combined, or considered together.

    Secondly, technologies to be used to build Labor’s NBN:

    Fixed Wireless

    Thirdly, was Labor’s NBN a MTM or not?

    Yes it was an MTM, because it was to be constructed using multiple (more than one; many) technologies.

    So to answer the question, the multi-technology mix model of the current NBN is not new.

    This might seem to be pedantics, but many articles on this website are based on the fundamentally in wrong position that the “MTM model” is bad, and that Labor’s NBN was not an MTM.

    But that doesn’t suit the bias and agenda of this website, so basing articles on mistruths is volgatam esse rem videam. The irony is dripping (actually, flooding) when this website and its readers complain about News Corp articles being biased and having an agenda.

    • bullshit. You have totally misunderstood Labor’s roll out for a start. That was going to be 93% FTTP. Then a sundry of other technologies with an ultimate goal of giving that 7% FTTP at a later point, if it was at all possible. That is not a multi technology mix.

        • And the original NBN, although “multi”, was using ONE technology for landline connections. Or doesn’t that suit your inflated view of your argument?

    • Except in this game MTM (Multi-Technology Mix) is a pronoun, as given in the Strategic Review.

      The NBN was never referred to as MTM before the Strategic Review, it is a name, not an adjective describing the network.

      Perhaps an English class might help you understand the difference?

    • Thirdly, was Labor’s NBN a MTM or not?

      OK, it was a “MTM”

      I’ll happily accept a broadband plan that was 93% FttP and I’ll call it whatever the fuck you like.

      Now what?

    • In the strategic review, “MTM” is used to refer to the fixed-line services offered by the NBN as a replacement for the FTTP portion of the network. The rollout of wireless and satellite is a seperate section of the report.

    • Using four latin words to replace 2 english ones…that say more about the author’s pretensions than adding to solidity of argument.

      As for this website, I think you’ll find that Renai has given the benefit of the doubt to Malcolm, and Malcolm’s dog’s breakfast, more times than many others would have. And as clearly stated in the header, “Just technology”. This website isn’t pushing a political barrow, and isn’t a paid LNP rag like NewsCorp (although it would be far more accurate to say the LNP is a paid rag of NewsCorp)…an independent voice, but because it’s not totally supporting your point of view you deem it biased and based on falsehoods. Nice trolling…

      Anyway, I’ve some nice new shiny copper to sell you, 4,320,000 metres of the stuff for the coming year…and that’s not including remediation of copper pairs…

    • Wow! Fact-Checking for “terms”

      Great! Good job you’ve managed to argue for semantics and won!

      Now explain to me why changing whatever it’s called either NBN/MTM/Cooper Noodles Network/Coalition Future Proofing Network/etc. makes any actual difference to what’s being done and being rolled out in the physical world?

      Couldn’t give a toss what it’s called. What I care about is the actual work their doing and it’s coming up way short for the time and money spent on it.

  7. All I can say is that I’m glad the FTTP zealots aren’t in charge of government money. They’d spend it like it was endless. Perhaps they’re not old enough to pay tax? Do they have a maxed out credit card? What is their credit history like?

    They’re people who buy things on credit because they think they deserve them, rather than considering whether they can even afford them, or considering what they would have to go without.

    • Lol you might want to look at those figures. Labor cap funding was $30B while Turnbull cap funding is $29B.

      But please keep up the mis information your doing Turnbull proud.

        • Reality wrong that is peak funding like Turnbull $56b. Due to funding by other means

        • As Jason K states that was not Cap funding. The difference in Cap funding was $900 million or something similar.

          It was one of the complaints regarding the Coalition FUD regarding this. They only released the Cap funding. But everyone kept comparing the Cap to Labor’s peak. It was political gamesmanship designed to confuse the public.

        • You are muddling terminology.

          What are you referring to :Peak Funding, Peak Government equity, OPEX, or CAPEX.

          A link to the Labor $30B figure in any past NBN Corporate Plan would help.

          • Total funding consists of equity funding plus net debt as at the end of the year for which total funding is at its peak. For the Revised Outlook equity funding is capped at $30.4 billion. For all other scenarios, equity funding is capped at $29.5 billion in accordance with he Government’s policy statement with any further funding requirements assumed to be met by debt funding in both cases.


          • “You are muddling terminology”

            Actually, I don’t think he’s the one doing the “muddling”…
            What we should be looking at is the same number that most any project I have worked on looks at…TCO. The TCO for MTM is almost double that of the original FTTP model.

          • We have switched to the TCO now, irrespective of what we are looking at you cannot possibly take NBN Co prediction figures capped or otherwise at the end of Labor’s reign in 2013, lock them in stone and say there is no way there would be any cost blowouts with their dream of 93% of premises to be connected to FTTP, and also the Wireless and satellite rollouts in October 2015 and beyond all the way to the predicted completion date of 2021.

            It’s not just a FTTN blowout, it’s all platforms.

          • Reality
            Turnbull claiming he is saving $30B of taxpayer money when he is only saving $1B.
            Yes there would most likely been cost blow out of Labor model. But even with Turnbull SR still couldn’t come cost to the $90B he claimed before the election the best the SR was $20B cheaper. Yet in a space of just 2 years his own model has in has increased by $27B with just connecting 50-100 users to FTTN/B.

            Now his MTM cost more than senario 4 of HFC/FTTP and only $8B less then senario 2 of FTTP.

          • So Reality…

            Ask for a link from another poster to support his comments (and disprove your own).
            Receive the link.
            Link verifies exactly what he said.
            Instead of accepting what was asked for (as it was factual) instead all that occurs is deflection and further ignorance?

            Really? Why would any genuine poster here for mutual learning and friendly correspondence do this?

            Oh wait…

          • I explained why you cannot compare current Coalition October 2015 cost blowouts with out of date funding predictions irrespective of the accounting label you want to selectively pick to make it look good from the last NBN (Labor) Business plan from 2013, you prefer to ignore all of that.

            Cost blowouts occurred across FTTP, Wireless and satellite as well, apparently if Labor had got in this would not have occurred.

            Even Conroy said (but he waited until they lost Government) that their NBN plan was too ambitious, I assume the follow on from that if they had won Government was the FTTP rollout would have been cut back even more than it had been in the previous three years, that’s if you can make a snail crawl even slower.

          • @reality

            That’s a lovely fantasy world you live in mate but here in the real world we have evidence that NBN Co was working very hard to speed up the rollout and reduce costs at the same time.. See project fox which your mates in the liberal party tried to hide from the public!

            The fact is that passing 9 million premises in 10 years with FTTP is not a heroic undertaking, Verizon managed 19 million in less than 15 years and both Telstra and Optus passed ~4.5 million premises with HFC in 6 years with a peak rollout rate of 6,000 premises each per day!

            NBN Co needed to hit 8,000 premises passed per day at its peak which is 4,000 less than the combined efforts of Telstra and Optus!

            Welcome to the real world were facts matter!

          • Reality
            Turbull’s cap funding of $29.5B will be in 2018 after that the NBN has to find the $27B in funding else where.

            Like I said Trunbull has only saved $1B of taxpayer money.

            Spin it how you will but facts are facts

          • @Jason K

            Exactly right mate, we had 2 choices – the ALP wanting to invest 30 Billion in FTTP and the LNP wanting to invest 29 Billion in MtM.

            Clearly the Libs, to keep their corporate masters (Murdoch in-particular) happy to our detriment as a nation, chose the sub-standard route!

          • Not only have the only ‘saved’ $1billion but in the process they’ve managed to wipe out 6% of the return expected in the process meaning this thing is very likely to now not make a profit as that last 2% is very shakey.

          • What really funny is the SR was expecting the about same revenue for MTM as for FTTP if you look at the Y28 chart. Even though MTM can’t deliver the same speeds as FTTP to get the same revenue.

    • All I can say is that I’m glad the FTTP zealots aren’t in charge of government money.

      Unfortunately the copper zealots are and they are pissing it away.

      • Bingo.

        The only Zealotry I see is from the FTTN crew.

        Technologically the FTTP is better. There is no argument against that.

        The Necessity argument is now beaten as well. Various economic organisations etc around the world are all proclaiming that whilst penetration is the first factor, higher bandwidth improves the economic benefits substantially. What was obvious to the technologists is now obvious to the economists.

        Which leaves the Financial grounds for them to argue. And they look pretty damn shaky nowadays, with not only a blowout in the funding (in all fairness I would have expected a degree of a blowout in labor’s model as well) but the purchase, use, and now the upgrade of a network that is on the very last legs of its life. The ongoing operating costs of this alone will probably wipe out any possible savings made from reusing the old network.

        • +1

          Leaving only the main (i.e. their only) reason for opposing FttP – politics :(

          So actuals of costs, architecture, feasibility, benefits etc, are all of no consequence to such people.

    • Ah this old chestnut again…

      So when Labor spends 50billion on a project we’re “wasting money”.

      When Liberals take over and spend 50billion it’s “sound economic management”

      Sorry mate.. you’re going to need to do a lot better than that old “attack the man” route. If you can give anybody here some sort of actual independant economic analysis why we are spending 50billion for out dated technology then we are all more than happy to start waving the FTTN flag. Because so far just about every analysis out there outside of our own Australian “independent” CBA is pointing in the opposite direction of that conclusion.

  8. It just rained and my internet connection dropped. Screw the Liberal NBN and its copper!

  9. No bloody idea what our PM is talking about…

    I’ve already got access to great 21st century broadband since early this year. Most of which was the work of Labor and our local MP getting us back on the map of roll outs. And this roll out was delayed at least 2 years because of their “cheaper, faster” alternative.. hell we probably wouldn’t have even been on it either since they moved the goal posts!

    So I have no bloody idea what he means by “would have taken longer” because every delay I’ve had I can trace back to their “streamlined” approach!

    • Enjoy your broadband RocK_M because it looks like most of us will be stuck on 20th century broadband for a while. Thanks Malcolm for screwing Australia’s future.

  10. Senate Estimates:

    “Mr Morrow: We are aware that copper deployment is in decline and there have been many manufacturers that have scaled back their operations.”

    I wonder why this is?

    What are people using these days – fibre?

  11. Is Turnbull going to invest in the NBN? Are any of them? NO. So why even discuss what technology those thieves plan to use for “their” NBN when tax money is going down the sink?
    The government attempted to mobilize a massive “NBN force” to complete an unprofitable project, in a ridiculous time frame, with no immediate revenue plan, in a country with a small population with no manufacturing industry for equipment. It couldn’t be done, so now they think they can fix it by fueling the continual expansion of a project making no income by using taxpayer money. Money which is rapidly disappearing, thanks to the many other foolish decisions of Australia’s fake democracy.
    This will never be completed properly until they pick a major city and scale it back so it can pay for itself and expand more realistically.

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