NBN Co rejects FOI request for basic FTTN modem details


news The NBN company has flatly rejected a seemingly innocuous Freedom of Information request which sought to establish the specifications which Australians would need to meet in order to connect their end user hardware to its Fibre to the Node and Basement networks.

Under the previous Labor Government’s NBN policy, the NBN company itself had planned to supply all Australians with hardware which would sit in their house or business premises and connect to the NBN. These so-called ‘Network Termination Devices’, or NTDs replace existing equipment such as ADSL or cable modems.

However, under the Coalition’s new Multi-Technology Mix approach, many Australians will need to source their own hardware, typically through buying hardware through their Internet service provider.

For many individuals and organisations, this is an issue, because they already have complex network setups utilising existing hardware. For example, it is extremely common for businesses to have installed network hardware from vendors such as Cisco Systems, to deal with large and complex network scenarios. Much of this equipment would be theoretically capable in its own right of supporting the NBN company’s network.

To address this issue, local technologist Cameron Watt wrote to the NBN company in late August asking the company to release the “minimum performance and functionality” for this kind of customer premises equipment (CPE) to be used on the NBN network, with relation to the NBN company’s Fibre to the Basement and Fibre to the Node network models.

These network models have been introduced by the NBN company as part of the Multi-Technology mix approach it has adopted under the Coalition Government led by Tony Abbott, and subsequently Malcolm Turnbull.

Watt sought basic information such as a list of equipment which been approved by the NBN company as supporting its use of the VDSL2 standard, as well as details of the specification used by the NBN company. The NBN company has publicly referred to this information in other documents already released to the public.

An extensive back and forth discussion between the NBN company and Watt can be found on the Right to Know website. Initially the NBN company rejected Watt’s request for a reduction in fees to process the application on public interest grounds, but it subsequently waived the remainder of the fees due as the NBN company made its final decision on the issue.

That final decision was not favourable to Watt’s request.

In an extremely complex judgment decision including a great deal of what might be termed ‘legalese’, the NBN company wrote back to Watt earlier this week (PDF) noting that it had essentially decided to decline the request almost in its entirety.

The NBN company initially found that the documents sought by Watt did not exist, but it also noted that it would have been possible to create some of the information requested, and that this would meet the terms of the relevant FOI legislation.

However, ultimately the NBN company decided to reject the release of most of the rest of the information which Watt sought, on the basis that it would breach its confidentiality and the confidentiality of other organisations.

The company wrote:

“Document 1 contains the business know-how, technology choices and intellectual property of NBN customers … provided to NBN for the purposes of the VDSL2 equipment registration process. This information was and is provided to NBN on the understanding that it would remain confidential … if Document 1 were released, the information could be used by others in the marketplace to gain a competitive advantage over the Registrants.”

“In particular, an informed reader might be able to determine who the Registrant is and what their future business plans might be depending on the type of equipment registered. This understanding could potentially be used by others in the marketplace to register similar equipment to beat the Registrant to market.”

“The release of Document 1 could also have a significant and detrimental effect on NBN’s future business activities. In particular, commercial entities and other potential business partners could limit the scope of confidential information provided to NBN if it became known that NBN may disclose confidential information in response to an FOI request.”

“… NBN’s ability to rollout the NBN network at the lowest reasonable cost could be compromised, along with its capacity to generate shareholder value. In the extreme, it could mean that NBN may be unable to proceed with its mandate to roll out the national broadband network, which could have a negative impact on the Australian public and on taxpayers’ return on investment.”

Other reasons given by the NBN company for not releasing documents include the fact that releasing information could lead to security breaches of the equipment on its network.

The NBN company’s rationale for not releasing details of devices which can connect to its network, and the specification for doing so, appears to make no common sense.

Let’s break down what we are talking about here: We are talking about the end user devices (commonly referred to as ‘modems’, although often they are not) which millions of Australians will buy or be allocated; devices which will sit in millions of homes and business premises throughout Australia and be used by Australians to connect to the NBN.

The model numbers of these devices will be the very definition of public information. Millions of Australians will have ready access to know precisely which devices can connect to the NBN network: Because those devices will be in their homes, as well as publicly advertised for purchase on the websites of ISPs.

The other information Watt has asked for is also extremely basic: He just wants to know what specifications a third-party device has to have to be able to connect to the NBN’s FTTN/B networks.

This, too, is basically public information. Every ISP in Australia that interacts with the NBN will need to know this to be able to supply devices to customers which can connect to the NBN. And it will likely closely match global VDSL standards.

All Watt is really asking for is for information from the NBN company about how he, or anyone else that runs a network, can connect to the company’s network, without buying one of the prescribed devices sold by ISPs, which are often quite limited in their functionality compared with third-party offerings.

This is extremely normal behaviour. Many Australian consumers buy their ADSL modems at the moment from retailers such as Harvey Norman. Many Australian businesses buy their ADSL modems from high-end network vendors such as Cisco Systems. They are able to use this hardware on ADSL networks because those networks are standardised globally. Most ADSL hardware will work on most ADSL networks.

All Watt is asking for from the NBN company is to be able to do the same in a FTTN/B world: To be able to roll his own network at home or at a workplace.

And the company has told him to get nicked — that this information is commercial and there is not a public interest argument for it to be released.

Well, my view is something different. My view is that the identity of NBN hardware which will be installed in Australians’ homes could not possibly be commercially sensitive information — given that it will be highly public — and that the release of this information is the very definition of being in the public interest.

If the NBN company will not release this basic information, then one must indeed wonder what kind of information its FOI department does believe should be released.

What a fucking joke.


  1. Strange when I buy an ADSL2+ device I don’t require a FoI request to Telstra for full interoperability details between exchange equipment and manufacture devices.

    What should be requested is the standards supported by the nodes. Any compliant device should be compatible, however only after manufacture testing (not NBNCo) would they declare it fit for purpose.

    This debate is decorating very quickly. How about technical data on the nodes?

    • Maybe you’re right, but then it would seem like quibbling by NBN FOI, rather than assisting the requestor as they should. Is it a fair comparison to ADSL as well, given the impact and support requirements for VDSL, particularly if modems connecting without the specifications may result in port shutdown.

    • Yes you don’t need an FOI because that information is available to anyone who needs to have it.. Telstra publish interoperability details on almost every product well before its introduction to market. And they are actually a commercial entity inbound by the public interest.

      So I don’t really follow your train of thought.. Node information should be available just as information on the construction of the fibre network was available beforehand.

      The real reason for this rejection is because NBN tm don’t actually know the answer. They are still in trials

      • the tech change to fttdp (or what ever it is) has probably already started, so all the information would be ‘commercial in confidence’.
        that or this is what a open and transparent lnp goverment means. basic information is not to be talked about

      • @d MrS’s link below exactly the information outlined, already published.

        Telstra doesn’t publish interoperability as the FoI requests.

        FTTN/B isn’t still in trials. Tragic.

        • Actually it doesn’t. MTM are disabling ports because connected devices are doing things they do not like (and MTM being MTM won’t specify why) despite those devices meeting said published specs.

          Back when ADSL was starting even Telstra released and maintained a list of appropriate chipsets and firmware versions. They stopped when things became common enough and standard (and RSP were installing their own DSLAM’s and maintaining said lists shifted to them). Heck even when ADSL2+ started up there was issues with modems supporting and not supporting it properly!

          MTM is in its infancy and its not like VDSL modems are common place here (there’s only mere 1000’s of connected customers currently too). Sure the FOI request is a bit extreme but its born about by MTM not being nearly as open as they should!

          • @sm I was in Telstra ADSL pilots and I can tell you this was not the case, NTD selection heavily restricted. The actual pilots were a disaster, a few of my recommendations fought for years before finally being adopted.

            Compatibility with xSAMs extremely complicated despite published standards. However the equipment has millions of units deployed worldwide. It is not new.

            Link please for the disabling of ISAM ports in FTTN areas. I’d be interested to read about it.

    • At least retail comms providers will be fielding customer questions and will have advise/ mandate recommended equipment, whatever wholesale network sits behind them.

      Even in HFC or Unwired or DSL or ISDN days I’d get the router/ modem my ISP suggested, would switch off their Wi-Fi and add my own base station(s).

  2. Wow, I’ve seen concrete bricks with higher levels of transparency than Turncoat’s “new more transparent nbn”!

  3. It’s very disconcerting really, because I work from home, the company I work for supplied me with a Cisco router (originally I had an 877 which was later upgraded to an 887VA as we moved to a better VPN set up).

    This router, connects my home network to the company network via a VPN, allowing the servers at work to be able to print to my laser printer and allow me to do my work.

    Without knowing what hardware can be used on the FTTN model, it’ll be difficult for both myself and work to determine what we need to do.

    It’s a disgrace really, an absolute joke that they wouldn’t release this info, and to use the umbrella of CiC is just idiotic, I can’t even work out how it could be CiC since it is end-user hardware.

      • The bonus with the FTTP NTD was that it was the modem, and you just plugged a router into it, simple and effective, plus NBN controlled the NTDs, they could update the firmware, check performance, etc…

        Really what NBN should be doing (and we know they won’t because it costs money) is having an NTD for FTTN too, then all the customer has to do is plug in a router, also means that everything is standardised.

        • Yep, but this is not what Hackett wanted for all the ISP’s, if you recall he advocated taking NBN’s NTD away from NBN and giving control of it to the ISP’s.

          Pure self interested stupidity and now we end up back in an ADSL scenario with an unmanaged network, higher support costs and ISP’s pointing fingers at the Infrastructure owner and vice versa when things go wrong!

          • He made those comments in relation to making the FTTP rollout more cost effective.

            He did not state they should take away NTD for FTTN.

          • Yes he did but it was a smoke screen and would have barely scratched the surface of the NBN capex costs.

            Funny how there is no FTTN or HFC NTD tho right?

        • Hackett suggested it as a cost saver. have seen them quoted as around the $300-$400 price.

          • In the quantities nbn co planned to buy the NTD’s in, the cost was around $50 each.

          • Well I believe it was also in conjuction with not needing the silly batteries (ie opt in vs opt out vs mandatory arguements) in every single residence as well.

            How many premises for FttP that was projected? if you saved $5-10 of 10 million units etc that adds up to a decent chunk of change. Halve the number of battery packs and again that’s a significant saving.

            Lets be honest those FttP NTD’s were way over specc’d for what most of the population would have needed. There’s a host of unused ports sitting there for a start!

          • He also recommended getting rid of the UPS etc which was another chunk of cost.

            (I’m not endorsing a position either way)

          • And NBN co did make the battery backup options and again not a big saving, it was prolly costing NBN less than $100 per unit.

            Out of a $40 billion dollar project, it’s Less than a billion dollars or 1/40th of the overall cost.

          • IT may have reduced initial cost, but the savings on lower support cost and higher return would have easily paid for these devices.
            With a Standard interface into the home there would have been more services offered, including services on other ports.
            The reliability (or more correctly a known state) of the Uni-V ment that it could be used with medical devices.
            The current FTTN/HFC/FTTDp/FTTB options are not concidered reliable enough even by nbn. They have not told us what they do concider them reliable enough for, and even if they did it would be denied as beind draft or redacted.

          • Sorry Derek O but that thinking is why MTM and LNP get away with 5-15 Billion $ cost blowouts.

            With just NTD and battery savings if you save under or very close too $1B that’s still a bloody big chunk of change which is saved!

          • @Magus

            “With a Standard interface into the home there would have been more services offered, including services on other ports.”

            Issue is there isn’t even a hint of mainstream or otherwise usage for those other ports yet (5+yrs). Its not hard to have a basic NTD say with 1 port + the phone and offer an upgrade to the current ‘advanced’ model for a fee (to RSP or other company) if its required (sort of like getting foxtel installed now just probably a lot simpler).

          • Not true Simon, there are many business’s run from home that use a separate ADSL connection and phone lines plus it’s not uncommon in some industries for some employers to provide a separate Intenet service with secured VPN configured router for use by the employee when working from home.

    • Only scenario where that would make sense to me is if they’re not actually building a FTTN network and it’s all a smoke screen to push people onto satellite and wireless.

  4. Don’t they already have several 1000 customers connected to FttN? surely those folks were guided somehow as to the ‘modem’ they needed to get connected? if MTM supplied one then a simple PDF of its spec sheet with a few annotations could have probably sufficed!!

    “What a fucking joke.”

    You can say that again!

      • It isn’t just model # though, it is also the firmware version.

        ISPs are supposed to test and retest their hardware on the NBN FTTN network every time they update the firmware on it to ensure it still works properly.

          • xDSL has had the TR-069 specification for remote management of modems available for years – the only problem is in Australia, to the best of my knowledge, iiNet (pre-takeover) was the only ISP that ever used it (for their Bob range). Even then I don’t know if they delivered FW using it (it can be done).


      • From https://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=2487380&p=4#r76

        iiNet and Internode are using a Technicolor TG-1
        Telstra are using a TG799vac

        Both these seem to be custom builds of some modem/router building block that Technicolor use
        ie specify what level of wifi you want, VOIP functions included? Basic or better wifi antennas

        Optus are using a Sagecom device, that again seems to be a custom build on a platform which customers can customise, this uses broadcom chipsets for the dsl side

        nbn™ have said they want broadcom chipsets in the modems to match those used in the DSLAM cards in the nodes

        • Sounds like we’re back to the bad ol days of when ADSL came about and even when ADSL2+ turned up!

          • Yup, lots of parallels being drawn to the early days of ADSL in that thread – though even Telstra compiled and publicly distributed a list of which modems were approved back in the day…

            I can’t wait for the day where an ISP-supplied incompatible modem causes nbn to remove someone from the grid. Seems like it’s only a matter of time, given the lack of information.

          • I think it’s appalling conduct to just disable lines when they don’t play right. They still won’t be playing right. Anyone could easily take down an entire bundle worth of cables by plugging in a noise generator into their phone line – doesn’t matter if it’s not activated at the DSLAM, it’ll just introduce so much alien crosstalk on the bundle that it will crawl to a halt.

            The whole premise of the node solution is that it’s cheaper IF EVERYTHING GOES PERFECTLY. Clusterfuck 101.

  5. May they don’t really know and are afraid they’ll make a mistake for all to see.

  6. NBNCo denied a FOI? Let me get my shocked face ready /s

    If they’re not quoting ridiculously high decision making costs, then someone coughs up the money and they just deny on very thin grounds. Look at their disclosure log, there are only 2 total for the whole of 2015 (http://www.nbnco.com.au/corporate-information/about-nbn-co/freedom-of-information/disclosure-log.html)

    Unfortunately this was also the way that Labor set up the legislation to allow this approach to FOI’s. And Liberals claim of transparency is repeatedly undermined by NBNCo’s refusal to release any data that they don’t control in their narrative.

  7. Um. OK, Malcolm X was a hero… Well, he stood up to The Establishment, was counted and not found wanting, and died tragically at the end of an assassin’s bullet while standing up for those who couldn’t.

    Malcolm Turncoat == Malcolm 2X (do I really have to spell it out?)

    And I still say “NBN –> Telstra”.

    Unfortunately while I could leave Amnet for forcing the use of proprietary VoIP phones and being “not allowed” to reveal the new VoIP settings so we nerds could use our own hardware, I cannot pull the pin on NBN if ever I find myself on FTTN or similar. Looks like Sol and Ziggy should have stayed on the ship!

  8. I think there real reason to deny the request is because simply put they don’t know.
    They have no idea what end users will need because they are making it up as they go along continually increasing the complexity, with like looking a GFast and other standards to improve performance. We only had this a few days ago https://delimiter.com.au/2016/01/04/nbn-goes-to-market-for-fttdp-hardware/. What will your modem need to support best I can tell every standard currently available and a few that will keep getting added on. Chances are you will something different every time you move. Want to know the quickest way to turn a project in a pigs breakfast, keep adding things in.

    We don’t like FTTP because the other guys did it lets add in FTTN, there is a heap of existing HFC lets use some of that to but make sure we buy the stuff from both companies so as they have no consistency in that part of the project. Oh look this standard might improve FTTN lets now look at bolt that on now that we have started. FTTN isn’t going to perform as well as we hoped better check out this FTTdp thing too. I’m surprised they haven’t revisited broadband over power lines.

    This isn’t being technology agnostic this is trying to make every technology work. As I’ve said before if the NBN was a mess under Labor it is a complicated mess under the LNP.

    • They already have 1000’s of people connected with a service supposedly so they have to know what is required/supported for VDSL on their network now.

    • > This isn’t being technology agnostic this is trying to make every technology work

      This is trying to make every technology *except one* work.

  9. I put NBN’s response through the bullshit filter, it reads –
    “We have no idea”

      • @s the FoI request will continue, unrelentingly.

        The standards utilised are identified in the MrS’s document. Everything buyers would need to know is contained.

        As posted this debate is now tragic.

        • Richard, the document does not answer the question at all, while “7.2.2 DSL and OAM Features” outlines what is required for compatibility, all NBN had to do to answer the FOI request was supply a list of registered VDSL2 chipsets (and the modems they are in) as per section 7.1.

          This list however short clearly exists as there have been trials and now commercial services on FTTN infrastructure. NBN in this case have simply resorted to their default “no” position when asked for information instead of realising this question could have been easily answered.

          In the early days of ADSL, Telstra used to publish a list of approved chipsets and modems, it’s not difficult.

          • @do true they use to. Why do you think Telstra doesn’t publish such lists today? Greater choice (price & options) has seen the responsibility for compatibility transferred to the manufactures and RSPs.

            These FoI requests are a massive waste of time. Perhaps someone from the press gallery will actually visit a node during construction, talk with the technician (anonymously) and publish components installed I the 7330 ISAM. I’m particularly interested in the GbE module.

          • Telstra stopped publishing lists when RSP’s installed their own DSLAM’s and when the various chipsets and modems all started being about the same for performance and compatibility.

            In the early days of ADSL there were big differences in results from one modem chipset to another depending on the DSLAM chipset used at the other end.

            I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this is the case with Vectored VDSL2 for the first few years.

      • This document is incomplete and the section detailing this has been edited – information was removed and replaced with ‘NBN will inform the Customer from time to time’.. So you can’t actually glean information from the document as it’s a draft and unreleased (or at least shouldn’t be released in this state.) It’s still got the edits in there like a newbie MS Word user!

        7.2.1 DSLAM Chipset and Firmware


        The NBN Co Equipment, used in connection with the NEBS supplied by means of the NBN Co FTTB Network, utilises the chipsets listed below to provide UNI-DSL services.

        VDSL2 Equipment hardware and firmware intended for use with the UNI-DSL must support full vectored interoperability with all of the DSLAM chipsets and firmware combinations listed:
        1 Broadcom BCM65300 12.35.2 VE_10_8_59
        2 Broadcom BCM65300 14.23 VE_11_1_71

        New Edit:

        The NBN Co Equipment, used in connection with the NEBS supplied by means of the NBN Co FTTB Network or the NBN Co FTTN Network utilises chipsets to provide UNI-DSL services.

        VDSL2 Equipment hardware and firmware intended for use with the UNI-DSL must support full vectored interoperability with all of the DSLAM chipsets and firmware combinations that NBN Co notifies Customer from time to time.


        So they used to specify some chipsets, but now they just say ‘must support interoperability with combination we notify the Customer from time to time’.

        This document does not specify a glossary of terms or reference to one anywhere either, and still contains all of the formatting changes from MS Word.

        The document management at NBN is absolutely woeful.

    • exactly, the information is already there, published, and available for anyone to read.

  10. The number of ‘fucking jokes’ emanating from NBN Co under the Turnbull, Fifield, Switkowski, Morrow leadership continues to grow at an alarming pace.

  11. Its ADSL so ADSL modems. Inadaquate for business. Whatever ISP’s supply will be insecure and full of security holes with very poor routers and unmaintained firmwares.

    My cable finally came up by the way. 2 days later. 2 days of being kept in the dark, no consultation or notice and had to get straight answers after 3 attempts. A whole day wasted again just over internet. Had to use up mobile data, cost me $15 just for one day of internet.

    Complete disconnection but when they bothered to try and bring it up it was unstable and falling over with packet loss. Just because of rain.

    They have absolutely no right to be silent for faulty issues on their end. Welcome to Liberal NBN Telstra are already doing this to FTTN users. And they are complaining on their facebook page it seems.

    No urgency whatsoever in full contempt of customers because we just use it for netflix right ?

    We pay them to monitor their faulty copper network for them, a disgrace.

    They are trying to hide their tracks. Labor will give our fibre back hopefully because the situation now is a disgrace. No body should ever have to call an ISP about faults on their end which is always the case but they blame the end user.

  12. Overall I don’t see the response from nbn as surprising (or inappropriate). Given the ISPs are the ones who test/certify devices & supply services to the customer customer – nbn is saying go and talk with your ISP.

    Where are the modem / device manufacturers in all this? Now the products (FTTN / FTTB) are on the market what is stopping them from testing & certifying their devices?

    • “Go and talk with your ISP” is not an appropriate response to an FOI request. It might be okay for general enquiries from the public, but not FOIs. With an FOI you don’t get to refuse to hand over information because you can point to someone else who also has that information.

      I would have thought that the ISPs aren’t just randomly selecting networking gear, plugging it in and seeing what seems to work. Nor are the device manufacturers randomly throwing together components and hoping to get a certification.

      So what information is being provided to them by NBNco?

      • the product technican specifications that detail the requirements for compatible modems are clearly spelled out on the nbn website, see http://www.nbnco.com.au/content/dam/nbnco2/documents/sfaa-wba2-product-catalogue-nebs-product-tech-spec-fttb-fttn_20151102.pdf

        I don’t really see what more is required.

        the FOI request seems vexatious at best, because the information the RSPs get is freely available.

        if the requester expects NBN to release details of commercial details between themselves and their RSP customers though, he’s dreaming.

        • I’m not so sure. I’m reading through it and there appears to be gaps in the specification. It also refers to other specs which apparently contain information – which those specs don’t actually contain.
          It also doesn’t seem vexatious – if the information was freely available then it would have been easiest to just copy and paste it in the response.
          Do you think that perhaps the information which is missing is all CIC? I’m not an expert by any stretch, so I’d be interested in your take on the CIC status of the following dot points listed by the initiator (I can see why some parts of the second dot point would be CIC, but again, I am no expert).
          * The number of current “VDSL2 Equipment” registrations as it relates
          to section “7.1 VDSL2 Registration”
          * The list of registered “VDSL2 Equipment” and their registration
          information, including VDSL2 Equipment Vendor ID, System ID,
          Version Number and clear-text name as it relates to section “7.1
          VDSL2 Registration”.
          * I am seeking the complete definitive
          specification as would be needed should I want to make available
          “VDSL2 Equipment” subject to registration for use with NBN Co
          UNI-DSL services.

    • You miss the point where NBN will disable a port if they detect a misbehaving device.
      It’s happening now. People are being disconnected, but NBN wont release the reasons whey they’re being disconnected so that the problem can be resolved.
      They want people to use devices from a recommended list, but wont supply the recommended list!
      ISP supplied devices will make up the majority of the recommended list, but as described above are low end, buggy, with poorly maintained firmware and massive security holes that are never closed by the manufacturers cause they just want you to buy the new model.
      This situation leads people who care about network performance and security to buy, install and maintain their own, high end equipment.
      If NBN want to reserve the right to disable a port because equipment is not behaving as they intend, then they should release the specifications they require equipment to maintain. It shouldn’t be a difficult task and it shouldn’t be CiC.

      • VDSL2 equipment compatibility information for nbn FTTN & FTTB is publicly available. All the requirements say though is what’s needed for a modem to talk to their network. They don’t say what’s needed for a device to work end-to-end with an ISP service.

        Given that – who is responsible for issues where a certified device doesn’t work with a specific ISP network (or feature)? nbn? ISP? end users?

        As a better question I’d be interested in a view from device manufacturers (i.e. D-Link, TP-Link). How do they find producing FTTN devices? Are they allowed to add devices to the certification list? Given the product (FTTN / FTTB) & compatibility specifications are available, I can’t see anything stopping a device being made, tested & sold as ‘working’.

        • as far as I am aware your first statement is correct in that the RSPs need to request modem certification, but if there’s a sufficient demand from the device manufacturers then surely it would just be a means of making the appropriate commercial approach to NBN.

          honestly though, the products have been available for literally a few months at most, and people’s criticism is that there isn’t an instant end-state that took ADSL 10 years to arrive at? hardly a valid cause for complaint, and they would be the first people complaining if their privately supplied device didn’t work properly – and then both the RSP and NBN wouldn’t support it.

          • I’d also see it as a dammed if you do & dammed if you don’t.

            They don’t release the list & they cop it for lack of transparency. If they released the list they’d likely get slammed for the lack of devices available to consumers.

          • Lack of devices is an easy to dodge PR dream though as its merely stating that manufacturers need a little lead time to ensure products meet various Aust standards etc.

            It just takes time for things to become more widely available as history with ADSL1/2/2+ etc has shown.

          • “I’d also see it as a dammed if you do & dammed if you don’t.”

            Welcome to Australia’s NBN, with such ground rules c/- T. Abbott, when in opposition…

            What goes around.

  13. How hard is it for NBN to say “Current requirement is support VDSL2, profile 30a with vectoring – may change in the future”?

    • Not that simple, they’d be best to say which chipsets have been certified for use. eg Alcatel use BroadCom in most of their ISAM’s so list the most compatible BroadCom based modems.

      VDSL2 w/Vectoring is still a bit wild west (like the original ADSL was), it’ll take a couple of years for all the various implementations to be universally compatible and not cause NBN issues.

    • They have publicly supplied that level of information. See section 7 of ‘NBN Co Ethernet Bitstream Service – FTTB/FTTN’ (it’s part of the WBA on the nbn public website).

      What’s being asked for (and has been knocked back) is a release of VDSL2 equipment certified by the individual ISPs.

      • As far as I can tell on that document, it’s unfinished in the middle of an edit (as is evidenced by the right hand column for MS Word Review Formatting Changes….)

        Either way the ‘listed chipsets’ table was/is being removed (it’s formatted in strikeout text) and being replaced with words to the effect of ‘We’ll tell you what you need from time to time’.

  14. Attachment A – nbn co FOI Matter 1516/14 – UNI-DSL Specification (Partial Release)
    Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act, 1982 (the FOI Act) enables Government authorities to provide
    applicants with information, where such information is not available in a discrete written form and where the
    information is “ordinarily available to the agency for retrieving or collating stored information”. As per sections
    11 and 11A of the FOI Act, the nbn FOI Officer determined that it was possible to release the following

    In relation to section 7.1 VDSL2 Registration of the SFAA – WBA Product Technical Specification – NBN
    Co Ethernet Bitstream Service – FTTB/FTTN, the current certification list contains 8 registered DSL
    modem versions.


  15. The response from nbnco reads like a generic template document created by a lawyer to cover as many options for “no” as they can think of.

  16. 1st we sold them a bit of what they owned because they wanted it
    Then we sold them a bit more because they wanted it
    Didn’t think we could do that again, so
    we sold them a copy…………because they wanted it
    May have a bridge for sale soon- any offers

  17. 10:1 the person at NBN Co thought he meant the Exchange equipment or ‘back end’ and had no idea what CPE actually was.

  18. “If the NBN company will not release this basic information, then one must indeed wonder what kind of information its FOI department does believe should be released.”

    They already answered that, and you quoted that in your story: “The release of Document 1 could also have a significant and detrimental effect on NBN’s future business activities. In particular, commercial entities and other potential business partners could limit the scope of confidential information provided to NBN if it became known that NBN may disclose confidential information in response to an FOI request.”

    Reworded: Because some future unknown RSP might get vaguely upset for unknowable reasons if they potentially provided undefined information which might hypothetically be disclosed pursuant to an imaginary FOI request, they can’t provide any information about anything at all.

    So that’s alright then.

    Hot tip from someone who used to work for one: NBN’s business partners already know and expect that everything they give to NBN is probably going to be disclosed, leaked, or used against them.

  19. I suspect the reasons for their style of response is a lot simpler. They’ve been a political, media and public punching bag for years and they’re punchdrunk, so every interaction is treated with suspicion and handled by the lawyers or PR team.

    The adversarial and combative responses from their junior counsel are an example that they can’t recognise the difference between people seeking to engage them on a policy level versus asking some rather basic technical questions. The questions originally asked could have been answered by best by one of their engineers on the project in a very open manner – e.g. “we don’t know yet”, “the info is coming” or “here are some pages from a current draft spec”, etc.

    The sad thing is that it would have made so much more sense if the request wasn’t handled as an FOI request, and even if it had, perhaps the sensible thing would be to pick up the phone and ask the guy what he’s getting at, etc. and tell him how to frame his question in writing. How many hours have the lawyers spent drafting those letters?!

    I fear that NBN Co will be a disaster to deal with if they’ve already got this kind of toxic culture. In my younger years, anyone with a technical interest could just ring up Telecom and get put through to engineers or technicans and they would pass you on to someone else or figure out how to answer your question or explain stuff. These days it’s all lawyers and PR teams with everything needlessly being a secret.

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