NBN board, Govt blocking FTTdp despite FTTN-like cost


news The NBN company yesterday revealed its board and the Federal Government were blocking a switch to a Fibre to the Distribution Point model, despite the fact that new revelations have shown the cost of the FTTdp option is coming very close to that of the technically inferior Fibre to the Node incumbent model.

Labor’s original model for the NBN called for a near universal rollout of the technically superior Fibre to the Premises technology around Australia. However, the Abbott and Turnbull administrations switched the model to a complex ‘Multi-Technology Mix’, which is seeing the copper and HFC cable networks owned by Telstra and Optus re-used as part of the rollout.

A large part of the MTM mix is a technology known as Fibre to the Node, which is seeing fibre extended partially into Telstra’s network to neighbourhood ‘nodes’ or cabinets, and then Telstra’s existing copper network used for the remainder of the distance to houses and business premises.

However, over the past several weeks it has been revealed that the NBN company has been trialling a mechanism, known as ‘skinny fibre’, which has the potential to drastically cut costs and allow much cheaper fibre deployments. The technology has already been trialled successfully in Ballarat and Karingal in Victoria.

If deployed more widely, in combination with extending fibre close to customers’ premises (in a technique known as Fibre to the Distribution Point), the technology could allow significantly higher speeds than FTTN — comparable with FTTP, even approaching a theoretical 1Gbps.

In a fraught hearing of the NBN Senate Select Committee yesterday, NBN chief executive Bill Morrow revealed the NBN’s board had considered switching the NBN to a FTTdp/skinny fibre model.

However, the full details of the consideration were only revealed on last night’s Lateline program on the ABC (we recommend you click here to watch the full program).

Lateline relied on a new set of leaked documents from the NBN company to show that the cost of the FTTdp/Skinny fibre combination could bring the NBN’s per-premises cost down to just $400 more than the existing FTTN rollout.

Morrow directly implied that it was a political decision — not a technical decision — as to whether to proceed with the FTTdp/Skinny fibre rollout, as it would require slightly changing the Statement of Expectations which the Government issued the NBN company upon taking office.

That statement currently requires the NBN company to deploy the NBN in the fastest possible manner, at the least cost. The FTTdp/Skinny fibre combination would cost a little more and take a little longer, meaning it would violate these terms.

Asked why the NBN company would not pursue the new option, Morrow replied: “That’s a question you really have to ask the politicians.”

Image credit: Office of Communications Minister Mitch Fifield


        • They are all “Liberal yes men” which is why they are there (The exception is Simon H, he’s there as a way of gagging him).

          • “The exception is Simon H, he’s there as a way of gagging him”

            Is he there? If you follow his twitter, his days to be full of flying lesson, drooling over Teslas and looks like one long holiday. Is he actually actively doing anything to do with the NBN?

          • he’s on the board of NBN Co as a non-executive director which makes him legally gagged. It also means he’s there in “advisory capacity” only and has no operational or financial responsibilities – he would attend a monthly board meeting, throw his 2c into the ring and then return to his real life.


            In November 2013, Simon was appointed as a non-executive director on the board of NBNCo Limited. He resigned from the iiNet board as a part of the transition to the board of NBNCo.

          • What Derek O said, the goal of getting him on the board was to gag him. He was far too outspoken, and had a lot of weight within the technology sector, a dangerous notion to the Liberal government.

          • It’s unfortunate but the fact is Simon got played and we are worse off as a result.

          • Simon Hackett is not the saviour you are thinking he is. Simon is in it for Simon.

    • +1

      It shows so clearly that its not about the best outcome, its about the most political outcome.

      I want full FttP, but I think FTTdp is a far happier alternative to the MTM we’ve been lumped with. Sad thing is that it wouldnt take much more planning and work to get it running, the work has largely been done with the FttP planning. Just cut the build at the gutter rather than putting the boxes on the wall, and let the inhabitant make the call.

      • Agreed, this just proves turncoat is trying to fk over the nation on behalf of his big corporate mates (rupert in particular)!

        I’d be pretty happy with FTTdp to as I could get the 100/40 mbps service I need and still have room to expand if I needed more bandwidth in a few years.

      • I want full FttP, but I think FTTdp is a far happier alternative to the MTM we’ve been lumped with

        Agree. Considering what the NBN should have been one redeeming feature is at least it’s a better path to the FttP end goal than FttN is. However MTM will be a mess regardless if Fttdp is tossed into the mix (I have my doubts the coalition clowns and GimpCo will but assuming they did expect them to make a bigger mess of it), it cant top the efficiency and simplicity of FttP that’s for sure.

    • I disagree. It is a neat example of the stupidity and shortsightedness of Turnbull and co and the politicisation of the process but I don’t think it reflects badly on the management of NBN Co.

      NBN Co has limited funds. Turnbull and the rest of his shortsighted luddites have said they’re only going to hand over $30 billion. As exciting as the prospect of this skinny fibre install is, it is still $400 more per install than FTTN. Times that by 5 million premises and the board needs to come up with $2 billion more.

      NBN Co management is still trying to make fibre work. I think they should be commended for that. It’s Turnbull and co that are the problem. They wouldn’t blink twice at spending $2 billion on a new piece of military hardware to kill people but something that will have measurable benefits to the economy and society. Nah, we can’t possibly do that.

      • According to nbn’s own internal Figures, FTTdp costs $600 more per premises than FTTN but generates $25 million more in revenue over the first 1.3 years and costs $50 Million less per year to operate! (just in the Optus HFC foot print alone)


        It’s a total no brainier and actually allows for much higher revenues due to higher available speeds (up to 700 Mbps using G.Fast or up to 250 Mbps using VDSL2+ due to the really short copper runs of ~50-100m).


      • For all your praise of what NBN Co management would like or are trying to do, they aren’t doing them. They are operating as a political unit for the LNP. Running with Turnbull’s plan knowing it’s a dud and actively promoting said dud rollout.
        They are a GBE, they are not part of the government, they are free to express an independent view. They don’t, because the whole place is riddled with LNP sycophants and management more concerned about big pay checks and bonus’s than the public good.
        I’ll give some credit to the NBN management when they deserve it, they don’t.

      • I’d imagine FTTN will move to FTTDp for the 2016 federal election. Let’s see if there’ll be a third satellite in it for beyond regional.

        Limited funds?
        Telstra’s market cap – and all their networks, wired and wireless besides services – is about double the fed gov cap on taxpayer equity into PMG mk2 (remainder having to come from the markets for said GBE).

        • Let’s hope so on the FTTdp and satellite.

          Yes, limited funds. The government has only committed to providing $30 billion in equity. Where is the rest is going to come from? It is up in the air. Turnbull can rabbit on about private equity but there is no detail beyond Lord Waffles waffling. Add to that reduced income due to slow uptake and rollout, and no doubt higher operating and maintenance costs due to copper magic and political interference and you’ve got a giant funding mess.

          It’s why I don’t think NBN management are doing such a terrible job. They’re fighting with one hand behind their back. Want to be angry about having your pony taken away? Sure be angry, but be angry at the right people.

          • They could simply inform the media and therefore the public what they believe should be done. It could involve Morrow losing his job, but really, if he hasn’t already earned enough to retire in complete luxury he is doing something wrong. Is money more important than ethics when you already have more than enough?

          • @darren

            You’ve had your pony taken away and you’re upset. I get it. But Morrow unethical? C’mon. Get a grip.

          • Pony taken away? Sorry Bruce, but comments like that deserve a big FUCK YOU!
            So, Bill Morrow is a saint? Give me some examples where he’s put something ahead of his own self interest, because seeing his behaviour now and having read about what he is done in the past, I believe self interest has won out in every instance.

          • Hi Bruce
            minus the slinging match I tend to agree with Darren here I don’t believe managerment are doing a good too many take on notice or just cic crap compared to the last mob.

            Like the excuse for not breaking up FTTN and FTTB number because it might give s heads up on competition. Except the only competition the have is FTTB which tpg and other are well ahead of them already as well that they are over building.

          • Indeed Jason and Darren…

            NBN™ can still do the job the government have employed them to do, but do it transparently and without excusing/hiding the bad bits and overstating the (few and far between ;) good bits…

          • @jason k, @rizz

            I understand what you’re saying about transparency, but NBN the company hasn’t been setup in a manner to allow for that. One of the reasons the government set NBN up as a government-owned corporation was to escape scrutiny. This isn’t the fault of Morrow, the board, or management. The blame for a lack of transparency lies with the Government.

            And to me that reinforces my point. NBN isn’t badly run. It wasn’t badly run under Quigley and the previous board. It isn’t badly run now under Morrow and the current board. The issues are down to political pressure and interference of the previous government and current government. That’s the problem.

            I’m not saying don’t be angry. But raging against the wrong people doesn’t help. Turnbull and the LNP are the problem, not NBN management.


            Neigh, neigh, neigh.

          • Well Bruce we have the Stragic review which from Quigleys figures added $1000 to the CPP. The cp16 has it now $500 less than the SR.
            Comparing a complete MTM rollout to a not completed FTTP rollout.
            The figures used for the MTM completely understated. PR team post any good heard about the MTM anything good about FTTP never get publish.

          • No redeeming features to mention for Morrow? Still just childish remarks?
            Maybe you can’t see it. Maybe your mind works the same way as Morrow’s. Yes, he has been put in a position where he is silenced and restricted by political pressure. So what? Will he or his family be killed if he speaks out? No. What’s the upshot of saying you believe FTTN is not a good solution and that they should be rolling out something more future proof? Angry words from Turnbull. Threats that you’d lose your job? So what, Morrow’s been in high paying jobs all his life, why throw away being able to do something you believe in to increase your already substantial wealth be 10% more.

          • @ Bruce…

            “The blame for a lack of transparency lies with the Government.”

            Perhaps you are right…

            However, the fact that many FTTP supporters here have been tarred with a Labor stoolie brush but are blaming NBN not the government, paints a clear picture of non political motivation re posting. Unlike those who oppose FTTP, who I have found in my travels, are completely politically tainted

            The fact that you are blaming the gov, means that is not a comment aimed at you.

            However for you to give Darren shit was completely uncalled for and very hypocritical IMO my friend… considering that you complained previously that me and others gave you unwarranted shit when you first posted (well when I first saw you post here) not so long ago…

          • Thankyou Rizz. I would truly like to know why Bruce thinks Morrow is doing a good job. I have asked numerous times now with the result being petty taunting like Turnbull, Lynch or Brown when asked something they can’t answer.
            My reasons for thinking Morrow is a problem is his inability to answer even basic questions about what the company he is meant to be running is doing. His inability to give a personal opinion or act as if he has any conviction in what he is doing, he constantly refuses to give opinions and refers the questioner to a third party document like the SR for answers. He reminds me of a manager we were unfortunate to employ once. He spent most of his energy making sure he was never responsible for any decisions. These are just touching the surface. I would like to know what Bruce sees about that is compelling. The only positive I see is when he refuses to personally endorce something during senate questioning it’s pretty obvious he is trying to avoid blame for something he knows is a lroblem. If not being able to lie with ease like say Turnbull is a virtue I guess he has that.

          • @Rizz

            I complained? I’ve got a bit thicker skin than that. You might want to go and re-read that thread. In fact I found all the literal quacking you were doing at me to be funny.

            I’m probably about to pour fuel on the fire but I do think there is an element of “I was getting a pony, now I’m not” to all of this. We were getting FTTP and now we’re not.

            I surely can’t be alone in feeling child like excitement at this skinny fibre/FTTdp news yesterday. That’s the pony factor.

          • How about you lay off attributing motives to other posters? Too many on here resort to that sort of behaviour when there arguments cannot be factually supportrd (STILL waiting for your rationalle on why you believe Morrow is a good manager) My interest is not in getting fibre for myself, 25Mb would be more than enough for my current needs, but in Australia getting a good long term solution to it’s communications needs. The reason I am against FTTN is that it’s a dead end thatvrequires an enormous amojnt of time and money to upgrade in any sort of meaningful way. FTTdp gets fibre where its needed, right in front of the premises and offers a multitude of efficient ways to upgrade when faster speeds are needed.

          • Bruce, pony or not this is literally the second time in 25 years that liberal party actions are directly responsible for Australia not getting FTTP.

            What drugs are you on I hear you ask? well nothing I’d like to be on, I just have this Telstra document from 1992:


            Telstra had already started considering how to replace the aging copper with FTTP, but Howard flogging them off removed the “in the national interest” mentality that came with being a GBE.

          • @Derek O

            I think you might be a bit mistaken. It was the Hawke Labor Government that considered and rejected FTTP, not the Howard Liberal Government.

            The Howard Liberal Government rejected a FTTN proposal by Telstra. Telstra wanted to build a FTTN network but didn’t want to have to share it with anyone else as required by law. They told the Howard Government they’d do it but the Government needed to first change the legislation so as to further enshrine Telstra’s private monopoly powers. The Howard Government told them to stick it up their jumper.

            This was the right thing to do but that’s not to say the Howard Liberal Government was in anyway a saint. They’re responsible for turning the public monopoly Telstra into the private monopoly Telstra, a terrible thing. But they didn’t reject FTTP and where right to reject Telstra’s FTTN plan.

            And back to the Hawke Labor Government, they don’t get nearly enough credit for our current mess. In particular Kim F’n Beazley. Keating was gunning to create competition in our telecommunications sector and was a driving force for fibre. F’n Beazley did dirty deals to build his own fiefdom by ensuring the support of the then powerful telecommunications workers union and created Telstra.

            My favourite Paul Keating quote comes from F’n Beazley’s efforts creating the Telstra monster,

            “This is a fucking second-rate decision from a second-rate Government.”

            If we’re going to be angry, lets be angry at the right people for the right reasons. The Hawke Labor Government and Kim F’n Beazley for creating the Telstra monster, the Howard Liberal Government for privatising the Telstra monster and turning it into a private monopoly, and Abbott/Turnbull Liberal Government for taking a good plan to correct the mistakes of the past and turning it into a political quagmire of poorer outcomes with long term negative effects on the ecomony.

          • I understand what you’re saying about transparency, but NBN the company hasn’t been setup in a manner to allow for that.

            It was a lot more transparent under Quigley, and it’s a lot less transparent now, so I don’t think you can blame the corporate structure for it.

            You can blame the politics of it almost entirely.

        • Bruce the Hawke gov didn’t get a chance to reject FTTP. Keating was in the process of splitting up Telstra much like NZ did with there but then Howard comes along to sells it off together.

          • Even the Luddite of the decade Richard Alston (Comm’s Minister) was reported to be against selling Telstra as a vertically integrated monopoly, however Howard and Costello wanted as much money as possible from the sale and thought it was worth more as a single entity.

    • To illustrate just how pervasive this whole situation’s become: I’m attending a fleet / procurement conference today and one of the key note speakers described the NBN as a ‘political’ not a ‘business’ solution.
      Whilst both sides of politics have some skin in that game it’s the current government that’s driving this attitude… Sad really.

    • It was obviously Jason Claire’s fault. If he hadn’t pointed out that FTTdp was an admission that FTTN was a bad idea there may have been wiggle room to include it. :)

  1. Good onya Simon, for making things less worse from your board position. Copper Zealot’s

  2. Hey NBN Co, your political master’s ideology is showing again!

    This just really gets up my goat, FTTdp would be a really sensible option to move to as it allows TurnCoat et al to continue to spout their “replacing lead-ins with Fibre is too expensive” mantra while giving aussies and businesses a much much better service with up to 250 Mbps services possible and dramatically reduced OpEx to boot!!!

    The fail with the this Gov is simply insane!!!

  3. The only problem I see with fttpd, is that there are no forced connections. That has to severely impact their revenue stream compared to fttp?

      • Except, that the residence is now required to pay for lead-in. There will be many who simply won’t do it, due to cost. That means the copper network would have to remain alongside fttdp .

        • Paul I’m not sure you understand what we mean by FTTdp – have a read of this:



          FTTdp means essentially an FTTP roll-out but instead of running Fibre lead-ins from the multi-port in the pit out the front of your house, they plug reverse powered 4-8 port micro-nodes into the multi-port and plug your existing copper lead-in straight into it.

          Your G.Fast or VDSL2+ modem then powers your section of the micro-node. it also means FoD is a real option.

          • Ah, OK.. That wasn’t explained.. So even with copper lead in from fttdp , speeds should be awesome. Though, I would expect upgrade options would be available to those who want fibre lead-in.

            It would be absolutely insane not to choose this over fttn..

          • Exactly, we’d get great speeds with a really simple and painless upgrade path for the future, it’s win win.

          • Plus Paul the upgrade cost should be similar to what Turnbull was say in cost to go to fibre not the $10k cost coming out atm.

    • It surprises me that Morrow has thrown the government under the bus for sure. He’s been very careful to not do that in the past.

      Maybe he’s starting to get irritated with them?

      • He’s prolly woken up that what he’s doing is not I anyones interest but Turncoat’s.

      • Yah, that surprised me too….good on him.

        As an interim solution, Fttdp is way ahead of FttN…

  4. Right… so they won’t do it “cheaper” because it will take “longer” and it will affect the statement of expectations..

    Meanwhile we’ll stick to the same option that’s no longer “cheaper” and isn’t really rolling out any “faster” either.

    Truly we live in the golden age of politics! :D

  5. FTTdp is more expensive but provides a better return and is more future proof? Lower operating costs too since you don’t have to have those huge nodes and power them? Seems like a no brainer to me.

  6. Question on the Government’s Statement of Expectation.

    fastest, cheapest, quickest right?????

    So, wouldn’t fixed wireless be the weapon of choice, even in built up areas?

    (I understand the technical issues – not like FTTN doesn’t have any)

      • Actually I do. But maybe you missed the tone.

        NBN are hiding behind the SoE and it’s just not credible to keep with FTTN.

    • CP16 lists the prices as:

      FTTH Brown 3700
      FTTH Green 2100
      FTTN 1600
      HFC 1100
      Fixed Wireless 4100
      Satellite 7900

      So FttH would actually be cheaper than wireless….

        • But then you will run into the same problem as the mobile towers with people not wanting them near by.
          Where I live there is a part of the town out lying area has so far missed out on wireless NBN. Because where one of the towers was going to go on a property he was told it would be one antenna. But when it was changed to 3 he changed his mine.

          • Not to mention you’d need a whole lot more spectrum to avoid the same congestion like you get with a lot of mobile phones used in one area.

            Apart from broadcast, radio isn’t a good medium for bulk networking.

      • Tinman_au,

        So FttH would actually be cheaper than wireless….

        …. and FTTN is cheaper than both of them.

          • Does ‘upkeep’ have a $$ figure or is it a esoteric thing as in, ‘trust me it’s heaps’ sort of deep analysis?

          • @Reality

            Does ‘upkeep’ have a $$ figure or is it a esoteric thing as in, ‘trust me it’s heaps’ sort of deep analysis?

            Are you trying to make out it doesn’t?

  7. They’d make the $400 difference up in increased revenue easily, and it solves many of the issues I and others have with FttN. It’s also still broadly in line with his reasoning for wanting FttN in the first place.

    Malcolm should give it some serious thought…

  8. It’s all part of their plan to make the network more and more complex, therefore more and more crippled. We started off with 3 technologies, we’ll soon be at 7 (fttp, sat, wireless, fttb, fttn, fttdp, hfc) and no doubt the Libs would love to add a few more. I’m sure they can manage to fragment fttp into “original” and “skinny”, then we’ll get fttc, then they’ll bring in google’s 5G drones, before you know it Mr Broadband will have mastered TCP over Tea Leaf.

    • (+power + maintenance + additional copper)

      You got figures for those Jon?

      It’s impossible to make a valid comparison otherwise.

      • You could look it up yourself (they are available), but I’m guessing your just being a knob end?

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