news Veteran telco analyst Paul Budde this week said it was his view that the speed and cost advantages of the NBN’s new Fibre to the Distribution Point (FTTdp) model might lead Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to announce it as the Coalition’s new NBN policy ahead of this year’s Federal Election.
Over the past several weeks, a series of leaked documents have revealed trials that the NBN company has been carrying out of ‘skinny fibre’ and Fibre to the Distribution Point technologies.
The combination of the two technologies appears to offer the NBN company a mechanism for delivering Fibre to the Premises-like speeds at a cost not incomparable to the Coalition’s preferred Fibre to the Node model. This has led to speculation that the NBN company could, in line with a potential new Coalition NBN policy, announce a shift from FTTN to FTTdp/skinny fibre as part of the Coalition’s Multi-Technology Mix approach to the NBN.
In a blog post published late last week, Budde — a long-time critic of the MTM re-shaping of the NBN — said it was possible that FTTdp’s advantages could lead to Turnbull adopting the model as official NBN policy, replacing the Coalition’s previous focus on the technically inferior Fibre to the Node model. We recommend you click here for the full blog post.
Budde said it was clear — as he and others had predicted — that the cost of deploying fibre would eventually come down below the cost of deploying copper-based technologies such as FTTN.
“There is no doubt that fibre technology will eventually be cheaper than copper technology,” he wrote. “And even more importantly the long-term maintenance costs of fibre are significantly lower than those of copper.”
When you combined the sinking costs of fibre with the fact that NBN chief executive Bill Morrow had indicated that a decision to shift to FTTdp would be up to the Government, Budde said it was clear that the NBN company already believed FTTdp was the best option for the NBN.
This fact, along with the recent spate of leaked NBN documents, the need for a positive vision for the NBN during the election and the likelihood that the Opposition would also adopt a FTTdp policy, could lead Turnbull to “to take the bull by the horns and announce his own FTTdp policy, carefully replacing the FttN solution,” Budde wrote.
“It looks like the NBN company also wants to go this way, so for heaven’s sake let us finally get the government and the politics out of the way so that our extremely capable engineers at the NBN company can do a proper job,” he wrote.
Speaking at the National Press club last week, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield indicated the Government was open to using different technologies as part of the NBN.
The NBN company’s executive team has already taken a proposal to the NBN company’s board for a broad FTTdp rollout.
However, so far, both Fifield and Morrow have also indicated that they see the FTTdp option as only a part of the NBN’s mix, alongside other technologies such as FTTN, HFC cable and FTTP.
The Opposition has been predicting for some time that the Government would abandon its plans to deploy FTTN and replace that approach with a FTTdp model.
“They are trialing this now, I suspect before the next election, they will announce they are going to ditch their copper NBN and roll out fibre to the driveway instead and when they do, remember this point: it will be proof that Malcolm Turnbull got it wrong on the NBN,” said Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare in December last year.
I agree with Budde on this one: As I have previously written, the FTTN model is virtually dead at this point, with no commentator making a coherent argument that it represents a better path forward than the FTTdp/skinny fibre combination.
Image credit: Paul Budde