Devil’s Advocate: Why brand new copper is great news for new estates


This article was originally published for Delimiter Members only. In late September 2016, Delimiter ceased publishing new articles. Because of a number of operational and other factors associated with this decision, we subsequently withdrew membership articles from publication. If you would like to see a copy of this article, please contact Delimiter directly with your request. Requests by Delimiter Members will be granted. We will consider all other requests on their merits.


  1. I couldn’t be bothered reading the inside.. You might anger me. So I will just say this. The idea of rolling out new copper in new estates is just ludicrous and both technically and economically irresponsible.
    The govt should mandate fibre , full stop.

    • “The govt should mandate fibre, full stop.”

      I don’t disagree, but who will pay for it? And who will pay to ensure that whoever deploys that fibre does it in a timely manner to each new estate, so that there are no delays after people move in? That’s much of the thrust of the article ;)

      • Do the developers pay for the water, sewage and power infrastructure?

        If yes then imo they should also pay for FTTP.

          • Very simplistic view of the situation.

            Are upstream services ready to handle fibre?

            Are there POI’s ready to be turned on?

            If not, what is the wait for people who buy homes and find they have no wired infrastructure whatsoever?

            Yes, it’s 100% redundant to deploy copper to greenfields rather than fibre. In a perfect world where every new estate has the works available to make fibre a go as soon as they are zoned. We don’t live in a perfect world. Under the ALP’s FTTP plan, the lack of upstream services left many greenfields without any wired service waiting on NBNco to provision things that the developer has no control over to enable the service to be provisioned. Meanwhile, people would build houses and use 100% mobile telephony due to no other option being available.


            You’ll also recall that a great deal of this spawned from the uncertainty of facing a market where a deployment of copper to meet the demands of the customers might result in that infrastructure just being dug up 6 months down the track to replace with fibre? That Telstra was relieved of the existing USO and instead only had to provide access to mobile telephony (not broadband, telephony…)?

            Lol “You might anger me”… So what? Your anger and ignorance are irrelevant to people who are sitting around waiting for a wired connection. I can’t really fault Telstra for pushing ahead and supplying a wired service as an alternate to mobile only, and I’m pretty sure the residents generally like the fact they can have a phone line…

        • No developers do not pay for water sewage and power infrastructure.

          The land-buyer does. Eventually, the tenant, be that the owner or a rent-slave, actually pays up.

          The Developer organises and initiates the Service Infrastructure, and certainly hands over the cost: but there’s no way known to man the developer won’t recoup that cost from SOMEBODY. And it ain’t the Government.

          FTTanything is Comms infrastructure, so how in Peter’s Name would that NOT be chargeable to the purchaser?

          Get a grip!

          • Yes that’s fine, and we all understand that any cost to developer will be transferred to purchaser, obviously that is how they make money.

            BUT what we are wondering is does the Developer alone pay the costs of putting in the other infrastructures?
            Does a Greenfield Developer pay full cost of putting in power for example, or is part of it subsidised by the government via the power regulator. We all assume it is the developer… but we are not sure.

          • @Woolfe – “Does a Greenfield Developer pay full cost of putting in power for example, or is part of it subsidised by the government via the power regulator.”

            One can never–in this politically muddled country–completely eliminate the subsidies. OTOH, generally speaking you must always assume the State always has a Much Better Use for spare cash, and therefore the Developer will carry the immediate upfront cost of ALL infrastructure before transferring that in its entirety to end-purchasers.

            One Much Better Use, for example, would be provision of a totally unnecessary dedicated rail line to an airport in the (Perth) suburbs, many kilometers from the Development. Or extending the Freeway another 5Km North…

          • I paid $780,000 for a new house to find out that I couldn’t even get ADSL1. I would have been HAPPY to pay extra for my land to have an internet connection.

  2. Question: is Telstra deploying RIM style FTTN technology to service these estates?

    If yes, then there’s no technical reason to deploy copper to the estate when they’ve already run fibre optic backhaul to the node or RIM.

  3. Renai you certainly do come up with some wild ideas, some of which are probably best kept to yourself.

  4. Can’t read the whole article, but the first contention that copper will allow residents get broadband faster doesn’t make sense. It takes no longer to install fibre than it does copper in a new estate. Copper will only allow faster connections in brownfield areas. Future upgrades are also faster on fibre (if needed at all). And then who pays for the necessary fibre upgrade in a new estate that has been blessed with new copper?
    Copper in New estates is just a dumb idea.

    • “It takes no longer to install fibre than it does copper in a new estate.”

      Actually it can in some areas. If Telstra has a telephone exchange close by it can be as simple as deploying new copper. But fibre will require some extra work at the telephone exchange and probably on the streets as well. It’s a bit more complex.

      • Telstra exchanges are seldom near green fields estates these days. Regardless, they have to connect to the MTM now, and fibre is getting further out from exchanges all the time. The copper needs to be connected to fibre for FTTN. Might as well do it properly and roll out fibre to connect to the NBN fibre.
        It’s a serious lack of foresight to do anything else.

  5. Using copper to pave the way for easy future upgrades. ? What upgrades, ? Gfast? When and Who pays for that? Fiber doesn’t need all this crap.
    Do it once, do it with fibre. Everything else is just an expensive delaying tactic to inevitable fibre.

  6. After reading an article this morning about the gigabit fibre installation explosion overseas there is just………….no………..reason…………………..install…………copper…………anywhere!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Abbott and Turnbull have already made us the laughing stock of the world for a number of reasons, we don’t need to add greenfield copper installations to further our embarrassment.

  7. ” although they initially cost a bit more to install. ”

    In a greenfields estate that cannot be true. Are you confusing greenfields with brownfields?

    • The difficulty in many cases for a telco such as Telstra is that it has existing infrastructure out there. So it will be much easier, for example, for it to connect copper to new development estates in areas where it has telephone exchanges close by, than it will be to install fibre. Its network in most areas is not architected for new fibre extensions.

      • I don’t want to attack you over this, but I find it incredibly hard to believe that having an exchange nearby can make even the slightest difference in terms of install time, or ease of install.

        Both technologies require work in the exchange. The installation of new copper access interconnects (dslam capacity, or some other equipment to interface with telephony) in an exchange simply would not significantly differ from the installation of hardware to interconnect fibre.

        From that point on it is a common access equipment. Existing trunks are cross connected to either the new copper cabinet, or the new fibre cabinet.

        If anything, copper would involve double the effort, because each cable requires two terminations, one for each cable in a copper pair, whereas fibre is a single termination. (I should note, this assumes a non GPON) installation. GPON aggregates the connections, resulting in even fewer connections in any exchange or like distribution point.

        The fundamental connection from that point in the exchange is the same.

        • “I don’t want to attack you over this, but I find it incredibly hard to believe that having an exchange nearby can make even the slightest difference in terms of install time, or ease of install.”

          When I’ve spoken to people in the industry, it has been clear that rolling out copper requires quite a lot less effort than deploying fibre, in both the street and the exchange level, creating delays.

          Even if you disagree with this idea, there is still the point that Telstra’s staff are not as set up for fibre deployments as they are for copper — and to get them set up for fibre would require a nationwide training and operational change scheme, as new greenfields developments are being deployed nationwise. This is not a small task for a company like Telstra — it’s a huge task.

          • This makes sense to me as well. Clearly they have been rolling out copper for a long time, the process and procedure is done and dusted on that, the skills are known the I’s dotted t’s crossed.

            Fibre SHOULD be the same, but it takes time to bed in process and procedure, it takes time to capture the little differences that might throw a fibre build out vs a copper etc. Lots of this sort of stuff, and when you look at the really quite small number of fibre rollouts, it makes sense that this may well take a bit longer.

            BUT that said, this is greenfields. The estates are being set up, that takes time, there is no reason that I can see that, even if the time needed was a bit longer for fibre at the moment, they couldn’t get it done before the development was completed.

          • Telstra can’t do it contract someone else.

            I don’t call a plumber for an electrical fault.

  8. Joys of a capitalist economy :-)

    Telstra and nbn (technically a government business entity) are both companies and will act accordingly. People should stop being surprised at the fact. Unless someone is picking up the bill for the difference, there is no positives for Telstra to installing fibre directly.

    • “Unless someone is picking up the bill for the difference, there is no positives for Telstra to installing fibre directly.”

      Exactly — this is one of the points I made in the article. Unless the regulatory settings are right, there is actually no incentive for Telstra to roll out fibre instead of copper in new developments.

      • Why is Telstra responsible? I thought the developers had a choice, with nbnco the provider of last resort? What’s been the problem up until now? Greefields have been doing fibre for years.
        It would be disastrous for all Greenfield’s to get copper from her on.

        • Developers do have a choice. If they don’t contract someone to deploy anything, and it’s a lot with 100 or less premises, it’s Telstra’s responsibility. If 100 or more, it’s NBN Co.

    • As I recall under the real N.B.N. all greenfield estates were mandated to install F.T.T.P. the expense (CAPEX) was covered under the 7.1% R.O.I. Now we are compelled to accept a roll out benefiting the incumbent to the detriment of us all ie TELSTRA install copper then have the ability to RECHARGE the taxpayer for an upgrade to fibre.

      A wise man once said ” Do it once do it ………..”

      • With copper, so we can then charge the government to buy it back from us at inflated rates in 2021

  9. So I actually read the article and thought it was well-reasoned for a Devil’s Advocate response. We all like to think of Telstra and NBN Co as ‘incompetent’, but you can’t seriously believe that they all have no idea what they’re doing. There are serious problems with the NBN but this article explains why what happened, happened.

    • It would be a very naïve person indeed to believe that either NBNCo or Telstra are “incompetent”. They are big business entities run by folks who definitely know what they are doing. Sure they may be marketing/selling lemons. But that’s not saying their getting a lot back from these lemons =P

      The thing most folks forget is what’s good for the company doesn’t normally also equate what’s good for the customer or in this case the nation.

  10. After the Belsham Ross affair, I have to wonder if Devils Advocate is an ‘insurance policy’. Certainly seems like it.

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