Political “untruths” poisoning the NBN, says Budde


news Subjective political “untruths” have subverted the debate over the National Broadband Network policy, veteran telecommunications analyst Paul Budde said late last week, with “factual technical information” becoming polluted by false rationality.

In a post on his blog late last week (we recommend you click here for his full comments), Budde — who has been a long-term critic of the Coalition’s alternative Multi-Technology Mix approach to the NBN policy — said the recent allegations by former ABC technology editor Nick Ross that the broadcaster had gagged him from writing about the NBN had reminded him that the debate about the NBN had become “politically-led”.

Over the past several weeks, Ross has made a number of public statements through sites such as Reddit, New Matilda and PC & Tech Authority claiming that the ABC prevented him from publishing articles critical of the Coalition’s controversial National Broadband Network policy due to concerns about being pressured by that side of politics.

Ross served as the broadcaster’s editor of its Technology & Games sub-site from 2010 before resigning his position several weeks ago. The journalist came under fire from other media outlets and political figures such as then-Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2013, after he published a number of articles heavily critical of Turnbull’s rival NBN policy. He has published little on the subject since.

Ross has maintained that he published articles seeking to find the scientific basis behind the competing NBN policies ahead of the 2013 Federal Election, eschewing political angles.

However, the ABC has denied it gagged Ross, telling BuzzFeed news that the journalist had been warned to take the role of a “reporter”, rather than an “advocate” and highlighting the ABC’s editorial policies. A spokesperson for the broadcaster added that Ross had been invited to contribute to the ABC’s business coverage, including on NBN issues, after the Technology & Games sub-site was scheduled to be shut down, but that Ross had declined.

Budde said that he could understand how political arguments could be made regarding traditional issues such as how large government should be and to what extent it should be engaged in nation-building. However, the analyst said, these type of arguments had “nothing to do” with real-world technical requirements and specifications in terms of Australia’s broadband needs.

“Whether your political leaning is to blue, green or red, fibre optic is always better than copper,” Budde wrote. “A system that delivers 50Mb/s is better than one that delivers 25Mb/s; a unified single technology infrastructure is better than a mixed technology one; it is cheaper to maintain fibre than copper; and so on.”

Budde wrote that the national debate over the NBN had “started to interweave subjective political persuasion with factual technical information”, with politicians finding false rationality in order to make these kind of entwined arguments “look like the truth”.

The analyst wrote that in his view, good journalism on the NBN would separate technical matters — which should be reported on as “facts” from political issues, in the same way that climate change reporting would focus on scientifically observable fact.

Without wanting to comment on the Nick Ross situation specifically, I would note that I strongly agree with Budde.

As I wrote when the Coalition first unveiled its rival NBN policy in April 2013:

“On almost any measure, Labor’s policy is a better one than the Coalition’s. It has technical, economic, financial and industry structure advantages, to say nothing of the end benefit to Australian residents and businesses. It’s a winner and I prefer it vastly over the Coalition’s much more modest vision.”

There are many political advantages to the Coalition’s rival NBN policy. I’m sure many of us would look at the situation that Malcolm Turnbull is now in — having ascended to the Prime Ministership and see that as obvious.

But on every other front — technical, economic, financial and industry structure — it falls down compared with Labor’s original FTTP policy. That is just an undisputed fact.

It would pay those writing about the NBN to remember two facts about it: Firstly, that the Coalition’s NBN policy is objectively inferior.

And secondly, that the Coalition we have today is also not even what the Coalition promised back in April 2013 — the policy has been watered down substantially since that point, and the new Coalition Government has not hit its own targets.

If we keep these two facts firmly in mind, the level of organic debate about the NBN will be greatly enhanced.


  1. “that the Coalition’s NBN policy is objectively inferior”
    But we will have an inferior product quicker? :)
    Well.. a little bit.

      • Overall 2 years quicker – if their ‘reviews’ could be trusted – but 2.5 years behind for people on the canned FTTP rollout list… which, when covering a 3 year period, was a fuckton of people – over 50% of the rollout.

  2. “that the Coalition we have today is also not even what the Coalition promised back in April 2013”

    The NBN? The policy? The plan? But not the Coalition.

  3. Advocate. This is the ABC’s problem in a nutshell.

    They see analysis as advocacy. They are under political pressure to present two sides of any political argument as being equal, and they see the NBN as a political argument instead of a technical one.

    Of course, the reason they do so is because the Coalition made it into a political argument instead of a technical one, and the ABC has acquiesced.

    Turnbull could have argued on a technical basis for a better rollout of the fibre NBN, instead he argued for a different type of network. The arguments that he brought forward in favour of his plan before the election were almost immediately proved to be falsehoods. The new arguments for his plan have proved to be based on falsehoods. Commenting on such is now apparently considered to be advocacy.

    There is such a thing as reality and it transcends politics. The ABC’s failure to recognise this is symptomatic of the dire straights journalism in this country finds itself in.

    You know what I would like to see on the ABC? A discussion between technically qualified experts on the merits of each NBN plan. After all, we are talking about the biggest infrastructure project since the Snowy mountains Scheme and what do we get on air? Nothing.

    There is a reason that journalists have dismally failed to report objectively*, or even just report, on the NBN. Until we acknowledge that reason, nothing will improve.

    * There are exceptions, just not widely read ones.

    • The other obvious problem is that this falsely describes all politics as either Labor or LnP in Australia.

      Every decision they make in this framework suffers from being originated in a false dichotomy.

      Parties are not part of the constitutional framework for Australia, they’re just an evil we’ve ended up with as a result of groups seeking power. Personally I’d prefer actual representation by a local member to mean something.

  4. “But on every other front — technical, economic, financial and industry structure — it falls down compared with Labor’s original FTTP policy. That is just an undisputed fact.”

    Not a fact, heavily disputed. Fibre is a superior WAN technology (acknowledged by everyone), but it comes at a significant cost. It’s expensive and slow to deploy. This was acknowledged in Labor’s version: LTE & Sat for 7%. Somehow this wasn’t an issue.

    The coalition policy taken to the election has been destroyed (costs and timeframe) however what isn’t acknowledge is Labor $4.9b policy was also a failure, as was the $45b NBNCo model. NBNCo’s rollout was massively behind their own predictions, CPP far greater and revenue way under. Their first CP didn’t last 12mths!

    The linked delimiter article fails in the first couple of paragraphs. HFC is receiving a large upgrade, not none as claimed.

    NBN itself is an expensive folly. The question remains can ubiquitous high speed internet, delivering speeds demanded by users and capturing most of the economic benefits, be done faster and cheaper using a mixture of technologies?

    Some of us argue yes. MTM technologies have demonstrated advantages in a number of markets. The fixed line network would be complete today if not for Conroy’s insistence on fibre (they could even service MDUs in 5th year).

    Budde, Ross, Gregory et al are fibre advocates. The ABC was right to insist Ross adheres to their charter ($1b ps taxpayers money). His articles riddled with errors (2-3 new power stations required for FTTN?)

    If you want to claim financial or economic superiority then the fanboys should finally produce a financial or economic model justifying it. Last time a “data analyst” tried on this site it took only 15minutes to destroy his position.

    Popular for fanboys to claim opinion as fact, however it doesn’t make it so. Budde even uses “climate deniers” to demonstrate his irrational, religion-based beliefs.

    • Dispute the facts as much as you like Richard, your partisan opinion will continue to be ignored by the rest of the industry in the same way we ignore Flat Earthers!

    • “NBNCo’s rollout was massively behind their own predictions, CPP far greater and revenue way under.”

      Pretty sure the ARPU of the Fibre portion of the NBN is actually higher than what was estimated, but kay.

    • “Labor $4.9b policy was also a failure, as was the $45b NBNCo model.”

      You’re right — the $4.9bn policy was a disaster. But the April 2009 policy was just starting to get up to speed when Turnbull dumped it. You can see this from the million and a half premises which now have theoretical NBN access. Almost all of those are on FTTP; deployed under the model which Quigley set up.

      As for the finance, I don’t give a shit how much the FTTP NBN would have cost to build. Over the long term it would have made the money back, and if it didn’t make the whole amount back over, say, 30 years, the Government could have privatised the shit out of the company and made its own investment back from the sale (as it did with Telstra).

      All the evidence shows that the original FTTP model was broadly sound. There were a few hiccups along the way (eg asbestos), but it was (and is) broadly working quite well.


      • Absolutely. I agree.. Even if it took twice as long to pay off, it still would have been worth it .
        Mtm , on the other hand ,$56b and counting and we haven’t even got to the upgrade costs needed upon completion.

        • Precisely, how anyone can justify getting to the same destination in more than twice the time and for more than twice the cost escapes me! It’s simple corruption, the Libs are doing the bidding of their corporate donors (Murdoch) at our cost.

          It’s little wonder that we fallen to 13th in the Global corruption rankings and got a mention alongside countries like Brazil, Libya, Spain and Turkey!


          • Richard, there’s plenty of facts out there for those with an open mind.

            And for ideologues, like yourself, there’s always self delusion.

          • @do what facts? You never provide any.

            Fibre CPP, other expenditure, rollout and revenue numbers are now known. They’re published in the company’s AR.

            The most complete direct opex / revenue model was developed by Cooper and myself. It destroys the running costs greater than capex argument.

            Time to put your figure in the table.

          • And why would I bother Richard, you don’t pay any attention to facts when they are presented to you.

          • “The most complete direct opex / revenue model was developed by Cooper and myself.”
            Lol I could do with a laugh. Provide the link for this most complete analysis, please.

          • Richard is right because, err, Richard said…


            The only info that matters is Richard’s (oh & Cooper’s apparently) because… you guessed it Richard said…

            Well I’m now totally convinced… as we should all be, especially seeing the cheaper/faster MTM wonder plan Richard could have been commissioned to write, going along so swimmingly and with Richard supplying such informative and factual comments (ahem) such as, BT passed 60 million premises in the same time NBNCo did 1m here.

            *shakes head*

      • @renai NBnCo hasn’t even reached 1m FTTH premises. Their CP forecasts were missed by massive margin. The ramp up was pathetic, 30% of some RFS areas at service class zero.

        FTTH increased after the removal of Quigley; the new rollout design simplified (at the expense of redundancy), re-engaged contractors.

        Costs and revenues are critical returns. Labor forecast a IRR of 7%; cost increased more than forecast, revenue below. Not even MTM will reach break even despite the significant CPP benefits (1/2 FTTN, 1/3 HFC).

        The discussion is unreasonable, claiming facts is pure tosh.

        • Would that be because FTTP can supply the product high ARPU customers wanted and FTTN cannot? So despite the lower CPP, by stupid design it’s locked in a lower ARPU! But let’s not let facts get in the way of your ideology, Richard…

        • Richard, I have been designing NBN’s network for years, and I can assure you that the revised FTTP architecture (so called type 2.1) was dumped as soon as the Libs installed the new NBN management, well before it could be implemented. All FTTP ever deployed by NBN is the original architecture with full DFN redundancy as you have pointed out. FTTN on the other hand has no DFN redundancy. Apparently someone felt that comparing apples with apples might not give the politically required result.

        • “FTTH increased after the removal of Quigley; the new rollout design simplified”
          Please provide evidence of the report on the methodologies used after Morrow took over and that explains how it has improved over Quigleys rollout; I’m pretty certain you’re full of crap and nothing changed except for the expected rampups*.

          “revenue below”
          Oh, I see why you keep saying this. You keep ignoring that the FTTP model was providing 11% above the expected ROI (according to your own figures) and amalgamating the figures for the entire MTM into the one outcome, dragging the entire project into financial misery and blaming it all on Labor.


          Thank you Earl! <3

      • Renai how dare you state facts and dispute all claims Richard puts forth. I wont take this nonsense from you!

    • Only disputed by you Richard. The evidence is fast proving the Coalitions position wrong.

    • Upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0 and maybe eventually 3.1? Any area that has 100Mb HFC is already DOCSIS 3.0 or haven’t you ever bothered checking what they are “upgrading” from? DOCSIS 2.0 only handle about 40Mb. DOCSIS 3.0 has been around since 2006

      • @d not just the standard, much work to deliver performance (eg node splitting) and RSP choice (wholesale service). The upgrade is extensive.

        • So Richard why the upgrade Turnbull soe is for at least 25Mbps since Telstra HFC already offers an up to 38mbps and upto 100Mbps already.

          Shouldn’t they be paying for the upgrade like you expect people on FTTN that want more than 25Mbps

        • The only reason the MtM is a dud is because of your ideological mates, the real NBN was ramping nicely up before the liberals destroyed it and replaced the senior management with their crony mates.

          • the real NBN was ramping nicely up before the liberals destroyed it

            Firstly you don’t get to define what a ‘real NBN’ is, the NBN policy is anything the party in Government wants it to be, I know it’s hard to accept but it’s 2016 and a alternative NBN policy was voted in back in 2013.

            Secondly rollout targets that were half of what was originally estimated by the Labor NBN Co is actually the opposite of what you stated, isn’t that ramping down?

          • Actually we do, we had the “Real” NBN and now we are getting MtM – the “Real” NBN was defined by the ALP, MtM is defined by your corrupt ideological mates!

            Without the ALP needing to fix Howard’s FK up we wouldn’t have needed an NBN policy at all! As usual you Libs are destroying comms policy to suits your warped ideology!

          • Alain, are you – for the tenth time gone unanswered – claiming that by the time Labor was booted out they were only promising FTTP to 46.5% of Aus?

        • @fz ooh no one agrees with me. I’m devastated;-)

          Look Ma, every one else is marching out of step ;o)

    • @Richard

      Your arguments are futile, Richard, you know FTTP will win eventually and you will be assimilated too…

      • Nah man, only high speed internet will win, some magical pixie dust will make something else appear and we wont need to have FTTP.

        • Even Richard admits FTTP will be the end game (at some point).

          At which time, we won the Internetz!!! :)

          • To back Richard here, he has never said FTTP is the end game (AFAIK). In this he seems to be flying solo however, by even opposing his politically ideological contemporaries who believe FTTP to be the end goal.

            But what he has said is “faster broadband” (or words similar) is the end goal.

            Unfortunately supplying what can only be described as the intentional vagueness of faster (apparently it appears that faster ATM must mean faster than snails pace both in performance and roll out – with UP TO $15B blow all totally acceptable of course). :/

            Such vagueness and an unwillingness to suggest actuals by just stating “faster” and keeping what faster actually is secret (sigh), gives our friend a trusty fallback/get out of gaol/jail free card, to try to desperately deny what was said, “later”.

            Understandable in some ways, being on the wrong side of facts means you can speak with authority you must be vague… especially following some absolutely wrong and humiliating (for one with such an ego) statements which have come back to haunt him previously.

          • I’m just waiting for Richard to tell us how great “5G” is.

            I’m particularly looking forward to hearing how he expects 30-60Ghz millimetre wave RF to penetrate … well anything! Maybe we will have nodes in front of every house and an antenna on every roof all to avoid the costs of installing fibre lead-ins!

            Cause wireless is the future, right Richard?

          • @Richard

            You contend Australia will never, ever, be all fibre?

            Man, I thought the dinosaurs all died out??! And yet here you are ;-)

          • @Tinman, it wont need to be, as I said before, magical pixie dust will provide a solution and give us Fibre-like speed and reliability without needing fibre.

      • Alain aka “Reality” needs a whack too, his fact free Liberal propaganda is really tiresome!

        • + 1 and it’s fun, especially when their previous comments oppose their current ones…as they regularly if not exclusively do… lol

    • “Not a fact, heavily disputed.”
      Heavily disputed, clearly a fact.

      “Fibre is a superior WAN technology (acknowledged by everyone), but it comes at a significant cost.”
      A cost approximately 50% less than any other alternative (short of not doing anything at all).

      “as was the $45b NBNCo model. NBNCo’s rollout was massively behind their own predictions,”
      Yes, a matter of two years in a 6 year lifespan, as opposed to the Coalitions delay of 4 years after a 2 year lifespan.

      ” CPP far greater”
      Which as you have been made aware countless times would have continued to fall as the ramp up inititated.

      ” and revenue way under.”
      And yet still providing 11% ABOVE ROI according to YOUR own figures.

      “The linked delimiter article fails in the first couple of paragraphs.”
      Still, a leg up on your failing within two words of your first sentence.

      “HFC is receiving a large upgrade, not none as claimed.”
      Please provide a link for details of this upgrade.

      My guess : Nothing has been confirmed, only speculated.

      “The question remains can ubiquitous high speed internet, delivering speeds demanded by users and capturing most of the economic benefits, be done faster and cheaper using a mixture of technologies?”
      And as has been demonstrated, the answer is a loud and proud : NO.

      “The ABC was right to insist Ross adheres to their charter ($1b ps taxpayers money).”
      Except the ABC has undeniably broken their own charter, multiple places multiple times.

      “Last time a “data analyst” tried on this site it took only 15minutes to destroy his position.”
      Typing demonstrable rubbish in to a chat box does not a demolition make. (As an aside, you only need to look at what Malcolm has done to the NBN to see what a demolition is.) I would hazard a guess most people take less than 5 minutes to demolish your particular brand of tripe.

      “Popular for fanboys to claim opinion as fact, however it doesn’t make it so.”
      Popular for fanboys to claim fact as opinion, however it doesn’t make it so.

      “Budde even uses “climate deniers” to demonstrate his irrational, religion-based beliefs.”
      THE HYPOCRISY. My head asplode.

    • @ Richard

      Mike Quigley and NBNCo spelled it out and you have never been able to disprove them with anything but ridiculous far right Ergasian nonsense and dumb ideology, worked out on a FTTN like obsolete abacus (of course).

      You promoted MTM as the way forward and being as if, your own policy (you could have been commissioned to write) when you gullibly (stupidly?) thought it was correct (remember how we laughed at you… and look now, we laugh even louder and more heartily, whilst pointing the finger ;)


      So now that the shit has hit the fan well and truly with the retrograde FRAUDBAND fucking up daily, behind schedule by years (not months) blown out by UP TO $15B (unlike FTTP on budget) not just using existing HFC and copper but renewing both *sigh* etc, etc… It clearly demonstrates the previous superior tech FTTP roll out (although being behind their own aggressive targets) to also be vastly superior in all other respects too.

      No wonder you keep insisting on distancing yourself from your own words, promotions and chest beating, flag waving, MTM plan?

      It shows the sort of person we are dealing with here eh?

  5. The basic facts. The Liberals are delivering the dumb HFC and ADSL services after laundering billions to Telstra for that. Services that currently go down for days when it rains and will continue to do so and cost a fortune to maintain if they even do that. Telstra maintained bugger all and so did Optus hence both are dogs breakfast.

  6. FTTP sounds great, but you really should care about how much it costs to build. (Current Telstra market cap is only $60B)

    The 2008 figures of $40B were grossly under, this money would be raised on the bond market meaning at best it would cost the government $105B over 30 years.

    an $80B build with 4.5% interest rates and you are looking at over $300B over 30 years. (almost all government revenue last year).

  7. So what happens now, you think the Coalition are going to change their NBN model midstream in a election year because of the opinion of Budde or Ross?

    There is only one escape clause, if you can call it that, Labor get elected this year, but the silence so far as to what their policy might be is deafening, not even a hint, other than a feel good line that Labor is the party of fibre and that it is not possible to go back to their original NBN policy.

      • Well you have to look at the options available to you and there is really only one, the ballot box.

        If you want to try and boot the Coalition from Government because of their NBN policy as you or anyone else are entitled to it would be nice to know that the Labor policy is a viable alternative.

        • Would a viable alternative be a promise/policy of a fully costed, cheaper, faster, sooner option, with actual details yet to come, but a guaranteed download of 25mbps.
          That worked out so well for us last time…

        • Lol Reality yes let’s go with an option that was claimed to be fully costed and real fast to deliver. Lol how did that end up lol.

          • Lol Reality the same policy document you claimed that they where going to use HFC before the election

          • The policy document targets have been revised as you are aware but choose to ignore.

            The Labor NBN Co did that many times, apparently it’s only ok to revise FTTP targets and costing but not MtM as the rollout progresses.

            FTTP fans just love a uneven playing field.

          • No Reality you do as you constantly bring that labor kept having there targets but don’t show the same disgust of the same and in a shorter time frame of the MTM.

            MTM fans just love an uneven playing field.

            But let’s go with a policy that was claimed to be cheaper and faster which now is anything but those claims but not costing as much and taking just along as FTTP

          • @ alain,

            Seriously are you for real, your extreme hypocrisy beggars belief.

            “The policy document targets have been revised as you are aware but choose to ignore.

            The Labor NBN Co did that many times, apparently it’s only ok to revise FTTP targets and costing but not MtM as the rollout progresses.

            FTTP fans just love a uneven playing field.”

            FFS, this was you when FTTP was being rolled out. Never accepting any revisions from the previous mob and even decrying revisions as being lies and deceit.

            Now YOU have the audacity to criticize anyone who you believe, is doing… err, exactly just as you did.


          • But then Reality FTTP was still aiming for a complete date of 2021 while your beloved MTM change there complete date from 2016 to 2020

            What would be funny when Clair announced the NBN policy and say there are going to deliver FTTP for just $29B and complete in 3 years. Then goes sorry I was channeling Turnbull there for a moment.

          • “The policy document targets have been revised ”
            Well you just completely shot down your own argument there, didn’t you? Let’s recap this short thread – you essentially said ‘it would be good to know what policy people are voting in’, Jason points out that that didn’t work out for when people voted the Liberals in and then you admit that the policy people voted for has been completely changed (on multiple occasions).

            Do you even think about *anything* you type before hitting post? Or would that require thinking?

          • So by my estimations that’s 99 contradictions…

            I guess he’ll get his ton tonight or at the start of play tomorrow…

            *golf clap*

      • Nope, renationalising the wired broadband access loop was always a unique solution.
        Just like privatising a vertically integrated Telecom/ OTC, after dumping Aussat on a then start-up Optus.
        How to sort nbn?
        Tough one.
        One more satellite for beyond regional, operated by Aussat of SingTel Optus?
        Bundle nbn fixed terrestrial wireless with Vodafail or …?
        Keep nbn splittable between copper/ fibre and HFC? Offload HFC sooner than 2020?

    • Continue with the MULTI technology just specify that mix to be more FttP is that not the point of MULTI technology you can deploy anything?

  8. Lemai, perhaps you can do an article on cost to consumers of TPG Wondercom FTTB/ VDSL2 vs that through nbn communications services providers?

  9. I still got no credit or explanation why cable was down for two days when it was raining heavily. Telstra don’t bother notifying their customers and expect you to waste days calling them up about it. A disgrace and very bad for productivity therefore complete and utter economic vandalism.

  10. HFC and ADSL services is not NBN. Telstra are already trying to market something that doesn’t exist , because they helped to kill it off. So a case to take to the ACCC. Nobody can market an NBN that doesn’t exist.

  11. “That is just an undisputed fact.”
    You mean /undisputable/. People can, have and will continue to do so in spite of the glaring facts.

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