news Independent telecommunications consultant Paul Budde has said that defenders of multi-technology mix (MTM) are getting “more and more desperate” in their defence of the fibre to the node (FTTN) model used for the NBN.
Writing on his blog, in a post titled The Fibre Witch-Hunt, Budde said those supporting more fibre in the network – via fibre to the home (FTTH) and fibre to the distribution point (FTTdp) – are now labelled by MTM pronents as “zealots, theologians and scaremongers”.
By so doing, they are “toeing the political line drawn by the Coalition government”, he added.
The Coalition Government has a policy of rolling out the NBN via MTM, which employs both fibre and the existing copper and HFC cable networks, saying this adds flexibility and can prove more economical when used appropriately.
However, late last month, the NBN company strongly hinted that the Federal Government was blocking a switch to a Fibre to the Distribution Point (FTTdp) model, despite the fact that new revelations have shown the cost of that option is coming very close to that of the technically inferior FTTN incumbent model.
“While the Communications Minister is talking about the FTTH theologians, at the same time he only wants to discuss the MTM technology; so in that respect he is as dogmatic as he and his supporters claim the FTTH supporters are,” said Budde.
He stated that, rather than discussing the difference in technologies based on what Australia needs to advance in the digital world, the FTTN advocates have now turned to “name-calling of those with a different vision of the future”.
If innovation is such a “critical” issue for this government, Budde asked, what role do they envisage for the NBN?
“The very fact that even the Prime Minister doesn’t use the NBN as a spearhead in his very own innovation policies tells you something about what he thinks of his MTM NBN,” he said.
If Australia is really so poor as a nation that it can’t afford to get this national infrastructure right the first time, “let us at least have a plan that looks towards the future needs of the NBN”, he suggested.
Another issue is that technologies such as 5G will soon surpass the quality of the NBN and become a “serious threat” to the economic viability of the NBN, Budde said.
Similarly, the rapid deployment of fibre to the basement (FTTB) networks to multi-dwelling units around the country via an NBN “loophole”, also threatens its financial viability.
“Furthermore, the Communications Minister is basing the fact that MTM is good enough and FTTH/FTTdp is not needed because today people are not buying the higher-speed services to any great degree” he said. “If he is so short-sighted that he believes we are building the NBN for today then there is a huge question – why we are investing $56 billion in this project?”
Netflix has shown that one new application can “totally change the whole issue of what speeds are needed”, said Budde, adding: “Does the Minister believe there will be no more new innovations that will bring in another huge change to people’s NBN requirements? Why have an innovation policy if this is indeed the view of the government?”
The other major argument against the economic viability of the current NBN, Budde cites critics as saying, is the fact that the financial model of the NBN relies on charging higher prices for higher speeds.
With regulations are making it difficult for others to offer more competitive solutions for fixed high-speed broadband, the NBN “monopoly” allows the company to limit the use of the network by making higher quality services “too expensive for most people”, he continued.
“On the other side, lowering these prices undermines NBN’s financial model. So the company is between a rock and a hard place. For the record the core of this problem dates back to the previous government,” he said, adding: “These are all very serious issues …”
Budde concluded by suggesting that rather than changing the debate to “zealots and theologians”, the focus of those who are defending the MTM model should be a more “mature” discussion on the future of the NBN and its role.
Image credit: Paul Budde