“Awash in cost over-runs and red ink”: Kiwis sledge Australia’s NBN


blog When it comes to rivalry between Australia and New Zealand, usually — let’s be brutally honest here — Australia usually has no problem kicking our Kiwi cousins around town. We have better beer, better sportspeople, a better environment, better food and we’re just better people all-round. Both Australians and Kiwis are better on almost every front than the Poms, however, so at least we agree on that much.

However, when it comes to broadband, it’s safe to say that New Zealand is beating Australia hands down. New Zealand upgraded their broadband network earlier than we have, they separated their incumbent telco to ensure competitive outcomes (which Australia has not), and of course they are deploying Fibre to the Premises around the country, instead of a mutated HFC cable/copper/fibre monstrosity. Actually, they already did a version of Fibre to the Node, and ended up pushing fibre eventually instead, seeing it as the end game.

That’s why it’s hard to disagree with these fighting words from Chorus chairman Patrick Strange this week. As reported by ZDNet (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“Strange said, in contrast with New Zealand, Australia’s fibre rollout was “awash in cost over-runs and red ink”. “We completed our fibre-to-the-cabinet network in 2011, covering around 80 percent of the population.””

Well, there it is, Australia. Earlier this year we were sledged by Singaporean telco MyRepublic, who claimed Australia had “completely stuffed” our “shit” NBN, and now New Zealand is getting stuck into us as well. You know you’ve really screwed something up when bit players like Singapore and New Zealand are able to get one up on Australia without breaking a sweat.

Ah well. At least we successfully convinced the rest of the world to drink Australia’s worst beer — Fosters — while we keep all the good stuff for ourselves. Suckers.

Image credit: Luke Miller


  1. You’ve heard of Rugby Union right?

    I can’t wait to hear Karina’s Defenders coordinate a response around how different the countries really are. But this isn’t about size (although many NZ implementations will be comparable to Australia – we just have more of them) it’s about understanding, in real world terms, what the end game really is. Push out FTTP as much as possible and stop fluffing on the edges with this MTM bullshit.

    I boggles the mind that the NBN is holding traineeships to teach kids how to maintain copper. Really?

    Ooohhhh – Edit is back.

    • I would sign up for the training, if it wasn’t for the fact of being trained in dead-end technologies. The wireless in the NBN has a future though. Fibre has a future. But nothing else does.

  2. They’re not wrong! Under Abbott and Turnbull, we’re being inflicted with an immensely costly temporary network, chiefly because it’s politically inconvenient to admit that Labor were right to listen to the industry experts who said/say that FTTH is the end-game.

    It might be tempting to move there in a few years as our copper rots even further, but I’m in two minds whether proper internet is worth battling orcs over.

    • No, chiefly because Telstra’s major shareholders had their assets handed to them by the federal government when they tried to flip the finger at the original FTTN tender process, and Conroy came back with the FTTP NBN. There would have been some angry, panicked calls from a bunch of rich pricks who could see their retirement plans curbed with Telstra sidelined. MTM is all about saving Telstra from a future without extensive monopoly control – the NBN is no longer a profit generating, self sustaining asset, it will no longer have a universal fibre monopoly. Operational costs are going to overrun profit, there is extensive scope for carrier competition, and eventually the government will lose interest in carrying a bottomless pit of debt and will be forced (or seek) to cut its losses, selling to Telstra at a fraction of the construction cost. For Telstra and major shareholders, this is nothing but win. For Australia, it is abhorrent.

      So make no mistake, the political implications are only a method to execute the Telstra rescue. Objective achieved, I think.

      • +1

        It’s all about using pubic money to build an asset that will be sold to private investors at a massive loss (for the public) to continue the rent seeking business practice of the private sector that has monopoly control over what should be a public service

  3. Guess our NZ brethren are upset that for internet they’ll actually have to leave our shores for their own ;)

  4. Yeah well if you had Rugby Network Technology the massive Node cabinets would destroy those little FTTP ones! :P

  5. There are more fibre premises connected in AU than NZ.

    On a % basis, of course they’ll finish sooner, they only have 10% of the number of premises we do to contend with.

    • They also didn’t stop their FttP rollout, sit on their asses for two years and then decide to take two steps backwards with FttN… of course they’ll finish sooner.

      New Zealand: Home of logic and sheep.

      Australia: Home of hypocrisy and clowns.

      • We best not mention that their pp costings are looking to $1kpp by the projects end (currently sitting around $1400 I believe) Nah we’re Aussies we’ll pull a project fox and bury out heads in the sand like the good Emu’s we are!

      • Turnbull is allowed to compare Australia to any other VDSL tech country, but nobody can compare Australia to any country rolling out FTTP.

      • So because we live in a country that is bigger it means MTM which uses copper which has a severe distance limitations is better?

        Fibre which really doesn’t suffer nearly the same distance issues is only good for a smaller country?

        I fail to see the logic there Bruce!

        • See my first post. My follow-up post was aimed at David Connors comment.

          I totally agree that sticking with Cu is madness.

      • Yet the example country used to support FTTN was the UK; comparable in size to NZ, double the population of Australia.

        Damn lies and statistics again!

  6. How do New Zealanders find their broadband… Same as they find their Sheep…

    Delightful ;-)

  7. Even NZ’s lowest Fibre speed is more than 2 of ours “NBN” speeds. The minimum speed you can get on Fibre in NZ is 30Mbps down and 10Mbps up. The reason is simple. More than 80% of people can get ADSL2+ (due to FTTN rollout that finished in 2011) and VDSL that performs faster than 20Mbps so it makes no sense to have slower fibre plans.

    And here we are in Australia even those ones lucky enough to have Fibre, starting plans are 12/1 and 25/5. So we have to upgrade to 50/20Mbps plan to get more speed than what everyone in NZ gets now a days.

    Why even have a 12/1 plan? Sounds crazy to me.

    Don’t even get me started on Dunedin where Gigabit plans are already available.

    • “Why even have a 12/1 plan? Sounds crazy to me.”
      Because it’s still a step up for 70% of people capable of getting ADSL.

      • iirc it was primarily designed for “Voice only” services via the UNI-V port and was never intended as an entry level Internet Speed tier.

  8. So what is the area and total population of NZ compared to the area and total population of Australia?

    Here we go:

    Population NZ 4.47 million Australia 23.13 million (2013).
    Area in square km : NZ 268,021 Australia 7,617,930

    So the NZ area is a bit larger than the size of Victoria of 237,629 sq km’s but with less the population of Victoria of 5.79 million.

    The Chorus estimate is to have 75% of residences connected to FTTP/B by 2020, Australia’s original estimate was to have 93% of residences connected to FTTP by 2021.

    I just want to make sure we can equate the task Chorus has ahead of them with their FTTP rollout both budget and estimated completion date DIRECTLY to the task facing the NBN Co if they rolled out FTTP to 93% of residences here.

    Yep no worries, same as.

    • And what’s the percentage of Aussies that live in the main centre’s? 95% or higher?
      In NZ there is a lot of rural areas cable has to be run through. Admittedly when your rural the service is shit, if any at all.

      • Well we can go down the track of comparing the three biggest cities Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch with Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane populations if you want, the point remains the total NZ FTTP/B rollout is targeted for 75% of the population of Melbourne.

        • Yes, its targeting 75% the population of Melbourne, over how big an area? How big is Melbourne compared to the entire area the population in NZ lives in?

          So… Melbourne is denser than all of New Zealand.

          New Zealands population density is 17 people per square KM, Victoria is 24 people per square KM, and they’re still running FTTP for cheaper than NBN Co ever was.

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