The top 10 NBN myths debunked

The “Top 10 Myths” list below relates to the original Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) NBN, proposed and commenced by the Labor Government in 2009. It will not be changed to reflect the 2013 Coalition Government’s downgrade of the NBN to Fibre To The Node technology.

For a generic assessment of FTTN, please visit the “Why Not FTTN?” page, and to follow the promises and progress of the Coalition’s NBN policy, visit the “Fraudband watch” page.


Top 10 Myths of the NBN

List content last revised March 2013

1. The NBN will cost taxpayers 50/70/90/100 billion dollars. We can’t afford it and it’s uncosted


The total capital cost of the NBN is budgeted at $37.4 billion dollars. Of that, the government investment is set at $30.4 billion. The remainder will come from revenue and NBN Co’s private debt. Unlike most Government expendiature though, the NBN is forecast to return all of the Government funds, plus interest, by 2034. It is forecast to begin repaying the Government funds in 2020.[1]

The $50 billion figure often quoted by Malcolm Turnbull is deceptive. It’s a “rounded up” number achieved by adding the NBN capital cost ($37.4bn), together with the payments to be made over time to Telstra for the leasing of their pit, pole and exchange network ($11bn). However, these payments to Telstra are operating expenses, which are paid from the revenue of the NBN. They take place gradually over its lifetime and do not add anything to the Government or debt funding required to build the NBN. Claiming they should be included in the cost of building the network would be akin to adding the cost of electricity to run the Opera House for 30 years to its build cost.

The project has been fully studied and costed by NBN Co and respected independent firms. The 2010 KPMG-McKinsey NBN Implementation Study found that the network could be built for $42.8bn (this was prior to the Telstra deal), would not have any net cost to the Government and would have an estimated net value of $40bn in 2025, earning a return on investment (ROI) of 6-7%, which is more than enough to repay the debt and equity used to build the project.[2] The NBN Corporate Plan has also been independently analysed by respected global corporate advisor Greenhill-Caliburn, which found the revenue and cost projections in the business case were reasonable.[3]

More detailed information about funding the NBN here

2. If it were viable, the private sector would build it


a. The private sector could not afford it. ~$37bn is a huge investment for any company, and well beyond any telco operating in Australia.

b. The private sector demand a ROI of at least 15%, because they need to earn a profit for their shareholders. The NBN has a projected 7% ROI[1]. While this is well below commercial rates, it’s quite acceptable for a Government, which is not seeking to earn a profit.

It has been demonstrated that the private sector only builds the most profitable infrastructure. You only need look at the HFC networks built by Telstra and Optus in the 1990s. They only cover the most densely populated sections of a few capital cities. A network built under such a basis would not achieve the Government’s desired aims of universal broadband access across the country.

It has also been demonstrated that when the private sector does build super-fast fibre broadband networks, the monthly costs are far higher than those provided under the NBN. In South Brisbane, where Telstra was forced to replace their copper with fibre due to a need to move the telephone exchange, the wholesale pricing is about double that of the NBN for slower speeds.[4]

3. We will never need that much speed or data


This claim ignores the massive growth in average internet speeds that have occurred over the relatively short lifetime of the internet. As speeds continue to grow, new applications are quickly developed to take advantage of those new speeds. MP3 files and iPods, YouTube, Skype, HD video, Cloud storage. None of these applications were possible until sufficient bandwidth became available. The Cloud is probably the next Big Thing, but with current broadband speeds in Australia, we will be unable to take advantage of the opportunities it presents.

Check out this graph showing the increase in the  speed of internet access in Australia. Due to the limitations of wireless and copper systems, the only way we can maintain this increase is to move to a fibre-based system.

Historic and future internet speeds

4. Noone else in the world is installing such a system


Fibre-To-The-Premises or Home (FTTP/H) is currently being rolled out in over fifty countries around the World, including New Zealand, Canada, the UK, Germany, Norway, France, Sweden, Kenya, Qatar, Japan,  Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China.[5] Google have announced they are building a trial network to cover up to 500,000 homes in the USA,[6] which complements the Verison FiOS network already covering over 12 million premises.[7] South Korea have announced that they are now spending US$26 billion on upgrading their old 100Mbps FTTB network to full FTTP in order to deliver speeds of 1Gbps, the same as the Australian NBN.[8] This is happening even though they already have a 4G wireless network.

The OECD actually recommends that Governments build FTTP networks.[9]

5. Our internet speed is good enough


Australia has amongst the slowest available broadband speeds in the developed world. This is a huge impost to new technologies for business and education. Where FTTP is available, the cost is so high that only the largest businesses can afford it.

Australia’s average speed of just 1.7Mbps is less than 1/30th of the average speed available in Japan, and about 1/3 of the average speed in the USA.[10] Even the Slovak Republic and Turkey have faster average internet access than Australia! What a disgrace.

As FTTH networks are rolled out around the world, we are moving further and further behind.

The dismal position of Australian internet speeds

6. A Wireless (eg 4G, LTE, WiMax) or DSL (ADSL2+/VDSL/HDSL) network can provide the same speed for a fraction of the price


More detailed information about wireless here and here

Much is claimed (usually by those with a vested interest) about the potential of wireless networks, with speeds such as 300Mbps being quoted. But this is highly deceptive, because those are peak speeds per cell site (ie per tower), not realistically achievable speeds for individuals. For example if the “300Mb” tower has just two users active, then speed is halved to 150Mbps. A trial of “4G/LTE” in 2009 showed that with just 20 people using any one tower, speed plummeted to just 7Mbps.[11] Distance, topography, buildings and weather also degrade available speeds. To put this in perspective, if only 2% of Australians wanted to be able to access even the slow 7Mbps speed at any one time, we would need to double the number of mobile phone towers across the country. For wireless to be an effective alternative to fibre, we would quite literally need a tower on every street corner.

LTE speed falloff for distance and congestion

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is a technology most familiar to us as ADSL, which uses a normal copper phone line to deliver data. While it’s true that variations of this technology can achieve about 300Mbps, this is reliant on extremely short distances along with a technique called bonding, which uses two pairs of copper phone lines. So to achieve these speeds you’d need to run a second phone line into your house, thereby eliminating the supposed cost advantage of DSL over fibre, despite delivering speeds that are a fraction of fibre’s capabilities. The other massive problem with any DSL technology is distance. At just 3km from a phone exchange, DSL speeds fall to around 10Mbps.[12] This makes it unsuitable for many areas outside dense metropolitan areas.

So why are these alternatives being pushed? Because many of the people doing so either own companies who distribute 4G wireless technology and/or they own small CBD-based FTTP networks. If you owned a FTTP network and could charge thousands of dollars a month for access, how would you feel if the NBN arrived offering the same speeds for a tenth of that price?

ADSL and VDSL speed comparisons
DSL speed falloff over distance

7. People don’t want fixed internet, they only want mobile


There is no doubt that people want some data on the move, and wireless connections are the fastest growing (in number) of all data connections. However wireless is a low volume convenience solution that can never physically replace a fixed connection for large amounts of information. The growth in this market is predominantly smartphones and handheld devices such as iPads. Mobile broadband is not making any inroads to high-volume home or business internet connections. Wireless’ high latency (lag) makes it unsuitable for gaming, video conferencing and VOIP just for a start. Average costs per MB are over 10 times higher than for fixed connections but only offer around ¼ of the speed, making them impractical and uneconomical for high-volume use.[13]

The NBN will not preclude the ongoing development of wireless internet, and companies will continue to upgrade their wireless systems in the future. But these will always supplement fixed internet, not replace it.

The NBN will also allow for a huge expansion in affordable and fast wifi hotspot locations (like McDonalds and Starbucks), which will add to the mobile data options available to the public.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has found that while the number of 3G/Wimax mobile broadband subscribers is rapidly increasing, the amount of data they are downloading is actually falling, while fixed broadband downloads continue to increase rapidly (50% per year), and the number of fixed broadband connections continues to grow. The data downloaded over ADSL and Cable networks is growing 16x faster than data over mobile broadband. These figures support the view that mobile broadband is for low volume, convenience use, while fixed broadband is high-volume.[14,15]

Fixed v mobile download volume in Australia December 2009 to December 2012
Fixed v mobile download volume in Australia December 2009 to December 2012

8. It will be too expensive to have an NBN connection


Skymesh have released NBN broadband pricing starting at $29.95 per month.[16] and iiNet subsidiary Pennytel, have released NBN broadband+phone bundle pricing starting at $60 per month, including unlimited data at 25Mbps and unlimited national phone calls. [16a]

Telstra’s 25Mbps NBN pricing is exactly the same as their ADSL2+ and cable broadband pricing. [17]

9. It will cost thousands of dollars to install it into my house


NBN Co will install fibre into your home during the build for no cost, providing you with 4 data ports and 2 phone ports.[18] Simply plug your current wireless router and cordless phone into that socket, and you’ll get your internet and phone anywhere in the house, just like you do now. There is no need to rewire your house unless you want hard-wired access in other places of your home.

10. Fibre optics only last a maximum of 15 or 20 Years.


Manufacturers now quote an average lifetime of 60 years for fibre-optic cables,[19] which is about 10 years more than the typical underground copper cabling we have now. Fibre-optics are also unaffected by water penetration, unlike copper cables. Maintenance costs are much lower for fibre than copper.[20]

Nortel Networks report that they are running over 100Gbps over 15-year-old fibre networks without a problem, saying “The age of the fibre has nothing to do with it any more, thanks to the dispersion compensation techniques we use.”[21]


[1] NBN Co 2012 Corporate Plan

[2] KPMG-McKinsey National Broadband Network Implementation Study

[3] Greenhill-Caliburn review of NBN Corporate Plan

[4] Why we can’t trust Telstra with FTTP

[5] Fibre To The Premises by country

[6] Google announces experimental FTTH network plans

[7] Verison FiOS

[8] South Korea spending US$26bn upgrading their NBN

[9] OECD finds public sector savings support FTTH roll-out



[12] Broadband Forum VDSL comparison


[14] ABS: Wireless broadband continues to boom, but downloads drop

[15] Australian Bureau of Statistics: Internet Activity, Australia, Dec 2010

[16] Skymesh NBN retail pricing

[16a] Pennytel NBN bundle pricing

[17] Telstra Bigpond bundle pricing

[18] NBN Co Frequently Asked Questions

[19] Optical Fiber Lifetime Calculation




192 thoughts on “The top 10 NBN myths debunked

  1. +1 – nice work.

    1. If you guys wanted NBN you wouldn’t have voted /B/rony Abbot.

      I get mine on the 30th regardless because apparently Gosford is advanced and look forward to drinking many a fine champagne flute of the tears to celebrate.

  2. Good work mate. But you need myth 11.

    Malcome Turnbull knows the interwebz backwards, because he owned Ozemail

    FALSE – Malcolm Turnbull is a politician, not a technology specialist. Ozemail was a dial-up ISP when speeds were 56Kbps. NBN proposes 1Gbps.

    1. You’re a real f#$@. Back in the times ozemail was operating, there was not many other alternatives. He knows a lot more than Stephen Conroy who has absolutely no technology background, yet thinks that his solution is the only way for Australia’s future internet.

      1. This is a family-friendly blog, hence the censoring of your comment!

        The fact is that almost every ISP in Australia publicly backs the NBN, including OzEmail (now iiNet). Malcolm Turnbull is a businessman who invested in OzEmail, not a telecommunications expert. Amongst telecommunication experts the NBN has incredibly strong support, which you can read for yourself here.

        The current coalition policy is incredibly backward and would deliver no benefit at all to the vast majority of Australians, despite the $6.5bn pricetag. It should come as no surprise that Business Review Weekly described it as a farce.

      2. He had nothing to do with the technology. He bought into a company setup by someone else then sold it off at a profit. Sure, he may be an astute investor but he’s no technology expert and had nothing to do with Ozemail other than the purchase and sale of it.

      3. That’s what’s so sad about Turnbull – he knows he’s lying. Conroy has no technology background and sometimes looks foolish, but compared to Turnbull he has the right idea.

        1. If FTTH could be rolled out tomorrow it would probably be a good option. The fact that the FTTH version of the NBN is so far behind even the most conservative projections at the time it was conceived just reinforces the evidence that every other country (without a knob like Conroy spinning otherwise) seems happy to concede: FTTH has an extremely slow and very expensive rollout which is why ‘world class’ right now in western nations is FTTN or HFC (USA, UK, Germany, NZ etc.,) and NOT FTTH.

          Asian countries where suburbs consist of residential 50 storey high rise buildings are obviously great candidates for FTTH because rolling out 30 metres of street fiber passes 400 dwellings so the ROI makes sense.

          In Australia where we still desire individual homes with a back yard for the kids to play in means FTTH ROI doesn’t come anywhere near what it does in Asia and the Aussie urban expanses means FTTH rollout will take decades – much better to rollout something that will bring us up to world class speeds in western countries in a couple of years than wait another decade or so for full FTTH rollout.

          Like in most FTTN rollouts we should lay a major amount of extra fiber to every node which allows for future expansion to FTTH over time. For businesses or private individuals that need more than 50-80Mbps that they could get with FTTN in the short term they can pay the extra $ to rollout fiber to their premise.

          Why should the tax payer have to pay to rollout fiber to every premise (eg., surgeries of rich medicare funded doctors) when the Conroy fan bois say that the extra speed is going to make them earn even more money. If that’s so they can self fund their FTTH extension from the node.

          Life is a user pays system – get over it.

          1. What a heap of poppycock! The NBN rollout was ramping up—resistance from LNP people inside NBN Co, inside LNP State govts and LNP local govts contributed to the delay.

            The NBN was costed and can deliver. It is not paid for by the tax payers but by the users. In fact the top 5% of users practically pay for the other 95%. With multicasting etc—return guaranteed and a lot more than the 7% in the business case.

            The Libs have no interest in running out Fraudband, just a faux policy to get them over the line. They have killed our future.

          2. Oh Golfman, you never give up….

            1. It’s no cheaper to roll out HFC than FTTP. So that ‘example’ you used is hogwash.

            2. In every country where FTTN is being deployed, it is being done by the incumbent. NBN Co is not the incumbent. They don’t own the copper (although Mal obviously wants to buy it). In case you have the memory of a goldfish, let’s not forget that it Was a recalcitrant Telstra that prevented FTTN going ahead back in 2007. Without their support, FTTN is no cheaper than FTTP. How freely they give their support to the Coalition plan is yet to be seen.

            3. Most FTTN rollouts are most certainly not performed with sufficient fibre to move to FTTP. This is a relatively recent ‘innovation’.

            4. There is not a snowball’s chance in hell of Mal rolling out 25Mbps (FTTN, wireless/sat) to 100% of the population by 2016 as he has promised to do. Given the delays as the plan is changed, it’s unlikely to be much faster at all.

            5. The NBN is user pays, as you’ve been repeatedly told before. Those people taking up the top (unavailable on FTTN) speeds of the FTTP NBN are subsidising the rollout, and more than paying their own way. Without those subsidies, a cheaper FTTN rollout will not produce cheaper speed-for-speed pricing than FTTP. But the top speeds will be unavailable unless you have a spare $5k up front to fund the extension yourself. It’s a lose-lose. Entry-level retail prices won’t be cheaper, and those wanting higher speeds will not only pay no less each month than if FTTP had gone ahead, but have to pay $5k as well.

            6. So life is user pays? Then why should the Government support any upgrade whatsoever? Let’s just stick with ADSL2, shall we?

  3. Nothing here tells me why the taxpayer should be forced to fund something that private companies will sell back to us.

    1. Frank, you need to differentiate between infrastructure and service. The taxpayers funded most of the roads. Yet private companies sell us the cars that we need to drive on the roads, and taxi companies sell us the service of being driven on those roads.

      In the same way, the taxpayers fund the infrastructure build that is the NBN, and the RSPs retail services to the public using the NBN infrastructure.

    2. Frank, it’s not meant to tell you that. It’s about common misconceptions of the NBN. As for why, it’s essential to be technologically competitive with the rest of the world, business can’t build it because their narrow interests won’t justify it, nor do they have the money for it. Government builds infrastructure. What you are paying for is access to a businesses servers.

    3. Frank: Is that like when the government build a road and then I don’t have to pay for the petrol it costs to drive on that road with?

  4. I’d just like to add a thank you to ex-PM Kev and the team who did the horse trading with Telstra to get access to existing Telstra ducts and cables. This wasn’t really noticed, bit it was a big win for the taxpayer, the country and the NBN.

  5. A great work, thank you for putting it online.

    I will be referring sceptics and nay sayers’ to this work as a reference.

  6. You’d better cut it back to 9, seeing as “2. If it were viable, the private sector would build it” is now invalid, given what’s happening in Brisbane.

    1. “What’s happening in Brisbane” is being funded by the Brisbane City Council. That hardly makes it a private sector project.

      1. The Brisbane sewer broadband project is receiving zero funding from the council.

    2. @Bob
      What’s happening in Brisbane is a perfect example of the private sector *not* building the NBN. They are doing a very small CBD area, and that’s it.

      I don’t see too many companies lining up to put fibre into the suburbs, let alone rural and regional areas. Just last week the CEO of Optus reflected on the HFC rollout they did in suburban areas, and how the company lost millions of dollars on that small project.

      If the government don’t build a national fibre network, it will never be done. Unless the Government pay a private company to do it.

    3. If we only wanted FTTP in Brisbane CBD, you’d be right. But since this venture only covers a few square kilometres of the most densely populated area of Queensland, it demonstrates the reasoning behind the NBN perfectly.

  7. “Wireless’ high latency (lag) makes it unsuitable for gaming, video conferencing and VOIP just for a start.”

    That’s news to me. I use VOIP via 3g every day, and it’s just fine. I even do video in Skype over 3g also.

    Your average Ma and Pa doesn’t do gaming or video conferencing. Email, browsing and the odd youtube are what the bulk of the population use. Wireless is perfectly fine for that.

    You’d better scratch point 7, also.

    1. I’ve done video skype between Australia’s fastest 3G network and ADSL1 (which is the best connection I can get at my house an hour from Australia’s largest city). And I would hardly call it usable.

      If you think that in 10 years, an acceptable level of video communications technology is a 5fps 320×240 video stream, then you are more in the past than I suspected.

      And who cares what average Ma and Pa use their internet for now? If you’d asked an average Ma or Pa 10 years ago whether they needed anything more than dialup, they’d probably have looked at you strangely and asked what the internets were. The NBN is a network for the future, not for now.

      I am shaking my head at the incredible lack of vision displayed by you and the other naysayers. Fair dinkum, if people like you were running the country for the last 100 years we’d still be driving a horse and cart, cooking on the wood stove and having our sewer picked up my some poor bloke each night.

    2. Bob, I bet you use VOIP over 3G in a city, where mobile towers are plentiful and signal strength is high. Take your setup to a rural area (or even a regional town) and see how you get on.

      I recently called a major Australian VOIP company for some tech support, and was told that they don’t recommend using VOIP services over 3G. Clearly they realise that the variable nature of 3G internet access makes VOIP an unreliable proposition.

    3. Ma and Pa may not do gaming (big MAY there) but their kids do! One reason we need the FTTP is when 2-3 kids are gaming, Pa is looking at news sites and Ma is looking up recipes (nice stereotyping eh?) more than 100mbps bandwidth may be needed. Now add in TVIP. . .

      No, do it once, do it right do it fibre to the home.

  8. 3. We will never need that much speed or data

    By this argument, fibre will be insufficient because demand will increase infinitely, no?

    How about a graph of the average speed of travel over the last 100 years, with the rapid shift from walking/horse, then steam and now car & jet travel. Such a graph would surely prove that in the next 50 years we will all be travelling at supersonic speeds, perhaps?

    1. Wow, talk about comparing apples with oranges. You are also conveniently ignoring that fibre networks have nearly limitless capacity.

    2. One day, a single fibre connection may well be inadequate. But given that fibre is currently capable of over 100Gbps, and the technology is relatively new, I think that it will be a while off yet.

      Not that it’s relevant to the debate, but I would imagine that the AVERAGE speed of travel has actually not increased all that much in the last 100 years. Average speed of travel in the city/suburbs is about 44km/h, and this represents a majority of travel undertaken so I guess average speed may have increased ~10 times in the last 100 years. Compared to the 500 times faster the internet has become in the last 10 years, it’s barely a blip.

      1. By your argument of increasing speed requirements installing passive FTTP nodes is a complete waste of money given their inherently shared/time sliced ‘mal-feature’. By your argument all FTTP nodes should therefore be active in which case we are going to need powered cabinets in the long run – just like the much cheaper and infinitely faster to rollout FTTN/FTTC options – may as well save some time and give us all 30-100mbps now using existing last mile copper and upgrade to FTTP on a ‘user pays’ basis.

        I certainly don’t want to be paying my share of $43 billion in labor waste/debt/taxes so that ma and pa’s kids can play network games. Ma and pa have retired and if they want to have their kids playing network games that require more than 100mbps then they can pay for it themselves.

        Democracy = choice = user pays. The other way, communism and socialism failed – or don’t you remember that. China is about the only significant ‘communist’ country but they are that in name only. Their economy is the fastest growing free enterprise in the world.

        Australia is NOT Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Saudi Arabia where government dictate what the people have and what they will not have. Too much of this ‘shove it down your throat’ approach from this labor government and there WILL be a people’s revolt.

        1. So the govt should stop building roads and streets?

          The choice was made in 2007 and again in 2010. Ma and Pa will pay more for 100mbps than for 50 or 20 or 10.

          One argument not mentioned so far is the upload speeds which by themselves make FTTH the unquestioned winner, enabling stuff not really possible before and facilitating what was possible but incredibly slow and frustrating. For example, use of cloud computing will skyrocket. Video telephone calls will be the technology will get even grandpa and grandma using the NBN.

          1. “So the govt should stop building roads and streets?”

            No but by your argument every new freeway should have 18 lanes in each direction because “we’re going to need that one day”.

            “For example, use of cloud computing will skyrocket”

            The NBN’s draconian, limited choice of either FTTP or wirless and its consequent 5-8 year rollout for many Australians means Australia is seriously committed to “missing the cloud computing boat” while other countries like Germany, New Zealand and large chunks of the USA are enjoying the cloud on their high speed FTTN networks NOW. In 3 years when we could all be on at least 30-100mbps via FTTN most of us will still be bumming along on ADSL… and the ship that is cloud computing and all the opportunities it offers our innovative software companies would have long since sailed by.

            Imagine the lost opportunities the decision to choose a slow to rollout, highly expensive, government owned and “managed”, FTTP topology will cost us. Think of the lost opportunities and the cost of staying so far behind the rest of the world for 5-8 years.

            It’s no good finishing the race in a Ferrari and saying “I’ve got the fastest car” when the race was over 5 years earlier.

          2. Not really. Some roads are indeed made wider than needed to allow for future traffic.

            Once built the fibre it is there for 60 years.

            FTTN is not the panacea you describe: getting Telstra to play ball would not have been easy and lots of new copper would have had to be run, the cabinets built—then Telstra would have set on its hands for 8-20 years minimum until it had recouped it costs rerunning copper and installing the cabinets. That is why the panel of experts said scrap the FTTN and go for FTTP.

            If you want to talk about wasting time the real time wasters were Howard and Costello who ripped money out of health, education and infrastructure and proposed 20 different BB plan but had no intention if implementing any of them!

  9. 4. Noone else in the world is installing such a system

    Who is paying for these other systems? The taxpayer?

    1. There are many examples in Europe and NZ where the Govt is funding FTTP, and even in Korea and Japan, there is considerable Government funding. NTT, the company rolling out FTTP in Japan is 33% government-owned, so at least 33% of the cost is “paid for by the govt”.

      But there are significant differences in the situations. Japan and Sth Korea are densely populated regions and rolling out FTTP is cheap.The same cannot be said about Australia. There is no way that any private company would build an FTTP network in rural and regional areas. But does that mean that those people are not entitled to such services? It certainly wasn’t financially viable to run telephone or electricity to those locations either, so should we just cut those people off? Let them live in the past forever? Hey, why even put roads out there?

      The fact is that infrastructure is always subsidised by one user to another. Do you live next door to a power station, or a dam? No? Then your prices for water and electricity are being subsidised by the people who do live next door to these things and yet pay the same amount to access them as you do.

      The NBN will do this on a larger scale, and (basically) everyone will be able to access superfast broadband anywhere in Australia for the same price.

      And that is a Very Good Thing.

      1. It is overly simplistic to suggest that giving identical access everywhere is always a “Very Good Thing”. We do build roads in the bush, but not to the same standard. We do have health care, such as ambulances, but not to the same standard. There is a cost-benefit analysis to be done. One that isn’t addressed here.

        That doesn’t mean ignore the rural areas; it means work out whether a community would rather spend, say, $10m in their region on hospitals, roads, schools or cables.

    2. Oh, and in Singapore their FTTP network is being built by iDA, a wholly government-owned Authority. Just like NBN Co.

      Any more questions, Bob?

  10. ” The NBN has a projected 6-7% ROI[3]. While this is well below commercial rates, it’s quite acceptable for a Government, which is not seeking to earn a profit.”

    Conroy was on the box the other night telling us what a great investment it will be, paying for itself in 6-7 years. This is an incredibly profitable project if he is correct. NBN co should be rolling out such schemes in every other country, in fact. Imagine how much money they could make.

    1. I haven’t seen that interview, but I imagine he was talking about the benefits to the economy rather than the network itself. According to a study done on a similar project in Seattle scaled to Australia, it would bring benefits of about $5bn pa.

  11. Telecoms Engineer 20 October, 2010 — 11:51 am

    Horrible article. If this was a university paper, I would have failed it.

    This article is as superficial as can get, I wonder why you even bother referencing your points, as you’ve demonstrated you don’t have any understanding into the deeper technical and business end of telecommuincations, and this article just containts handwaving arguments.

    Wasted my time reading this.

    The solution that should be adopted is FTTN, based on previous tender proposals, and five city FTTN project would cost around $5Bn. Providing non-metro with a combination of wired and wireless technology would be $2-3Bn, this would provide consistent and adequate speed for applications into the next 10 years and onwards. Such a model will be low risk and provide higher ROI in addition to economies of scale in productivity return.
    The model will also allow for private builds.

    1. I assume you’re talking about Telstra’s proposed FTTN network, which they would only build on the condition that competitors wouldbe denied access to it, granting Telstra a total retail monopoly on fixed line services delivered via FTTN. Do I really have to spell out just how terrible such a scenario would be? Furthermore, FTTN is slower, and less energy efficient than FTTP (because it still relies on copper for the “last mile”). Plus, building FTTN, then upgrading to FTTP at a later date would in the long term be more costly than building FTTP in one go. When you consider that even the luddite Howard government rejected the Telstra proposal, you know it’s a rubbish idea.

    2. Firstly, a 5-city FTTN project for $5b would be a duplication the plethora of options already available to capital-city-dwellers who don’t need it. Almost everyone in these cities already has access to cable, ADSL2+ and reliable high-speed wireless.

      Secondly, $2b for wireless coverage for the entire remainder of the population sounds incredibly cheap, not to mention inadequate. I’m betting that duplicating whole Telstra’s NextG network (which is nowhere near enough outside major centres) would cost a lot more than $2b….and that’s at today’s level of demand. In 10 years time, it would be hopelessly inadequate and we’d be at square one again. Sooner or later, we’ll need fibre….why not now?

    3. Telecom Engineer Engineer 13 September, 2013 — 2:48 pm

      Telecoms Engineer Engineer here. Horrible comment by Telecoms Engineer.

      Wasted my time reading it.

      The solution proposed by Telecoms Engineer prior not national infrastructure at all.

  12. Lol Telecoms Engineer, if you think his article is horrible then your response is terribad.

    You basically dumped an opinion and tried to pass it off as fact with 0 evidence backing it up.

    If you did that at uni and I was your professional I would ask that you get expelled before you lowered the IQ of all those around you.

  13. Telecoms Engineer 20 October, 2010 — 3:49 pm

    It’s amazing how ridiculous this as become.

    The logical thing to do, back in 2005, was for Telstra and the ACCC to have agreed upon a fair access price to a FTTN network built entirely by Telstra. The build would have taken around 4 years, but usable within 1, and within 2-3 years in concert with a regional wireless rollout, Australia would have effectively a very efficient and profit rich system in place for the next 10-20 years.

    Instead what’s happened is that today we still have a copper network, and there is no agreement between business or politicans, and does not appear to be any any time soon. I’m predicting five to tens years from now, there will still be no roll out.

    Really pathetic. I’m just looking at all the fools being led; from industry, government and the public by this whole campaign to ignore the elephant in the room, that there is no solution to a private monopoly – ever.

    Even if we ignore the unfeasiblity of a 43Bn spend, the likelihood that NBNCo will end up being another Telstra is quite high. In fact, I believe it will be one so rife with the vested interest of its shareholders that it will barely function, let alone be the solution to all our problems.

    FTTN still is the logical step forward, FTTP is akin to taking a giant leap and right off the cliff …

    1. You do know that Liberals are keen to do “A telstra” monopoly with their FTTN anyway right?

  14. TE:

    FTTN is in no way a logical step forward. It’s not a stepping stone to FTTP (unless you run sufficient fibre to the node to allow future FTTP, which puts the price somewhat higher than your $2-3bn). FTTN also leaves you with the DSL distance problem, unless you add more nodes closer to the premises. In which case the FTTN cost goes up even more. And even if you go ahead and do this, without implementing bonding your DSL ends up at ~25Mbps.

    So for FTTN to be a useful solution offering decent speeds (say 100Mbps), you need to lay FTTN, add nodes within ~1km of every premesis, then run a 2nd pair of copper between all the nodes and all the houses. And after you do that you are still left with a legacy copper network with little room for future expansion. And what would be the cost?

    The monopoly isn’t an elephant in the room, it’s just a non-issue for anyone with a modicum of common sense. We don’t have different companies running water, sewer or electricity services to our house, why would anyone expect multiple data lines? The idea of duplicating lines into every premises in the name of competition is ridiculous, as so aptly demonstrated by Telstra and Optus during their ill-fated HFC rollouts of the 90s.

    Due to their vertical integration, Telstra would never have provided a reasonable wholesale network as can be seen clearly from the shambles surrounding wholesale ADSL2 or worse, cable. The difference here is that NBN is not vertically integrated. They have no retail conflict-of-interest. Their entire purpose is to provide wholesale data access.

    And wireless? If you are proposing anything more than an absolute rural solution (eg the NBN plan), then I seriously doubt your stated job title. It’s simply not feasible as a solution where decent bandwidth is required. One only needs to look to NextG to prove this. 21Mbps? ROFLMAO. If you think realistic rural NextG speed is any better that 1/20th of that, then you need to get out more.

  15. Telecoms Engineer 21 October, 2010 — 9:29 am

    Why are we talking about ‘stepping stones’ ? I never mentioned that, nor do I think it’s a necessary or ideal strategy to build stepping stones.

    We should also not talk about ‘future proof’ networks, as telecoms today is not about future proofing, as technology and applciations change very fast, this is true for all industries in the globalised future. Thus, anyone who believes there isn’t considerable risk is a fool, so too is anyone who thinks we can properly cost benefit massive capital spend into the distant future in the modern global economy.

    The benefit of FTTN is that it generates immediate productivity and profit, at the same time consolidatnig network infrastructure; all the risk factors are negated, FTTN is a plain and simple upgrade, in fact Telstra has implemented FTTN for over a decade in its ISAM and CMUX technology with Alcatel. Its acheived its economies of scale. I’m quite happy with a 1.5Km copper local loop, and think its right in the sweet spot for uniform telecoms delivery for today and the next ten years. If we decide to go FTTP, FTTN will maintain telecoms in the interim period, which will be around another 5-10 years on top of the lifespan of FTTN. If you want to talk about stepping stones, that is a better one that is based on business viability than technological, which is part and parcel of good engineering practice.

    FTTN has a determinable build cost, while the $43Bn dollar is touted, the reality is that like all projects it will cost more. It will also not generate returns until way into the project.

    At the risk of repeating the error, you should consider that today in 2010 we are still using for the vast majority data rates that are between 2-10Mbps for business purposes, and the average internet speed is 1.5-8mbps, not because of network capability but the lack of applications for higher speeds, this is outside the control of any government or telco, but is dependent on developments of IT and Web technologies. Even if you factor in a 10 year web technolgoical growth, FTTN will be well within the specs of any new technological advances. Expontential growth charts are used as handwaving arguments to show the MASSIVE advances in bandwidth needs and growth, but again, look back to, and learn the lesson there, our data needs and applications has not changed much since 2000.

    1. You might be happy with a 1.5km local loop, but outside the areas with streetlights (ie most of Australia) the copper goes 5 to 10 times that distance. Which means that the vast majority of those on the copper loop can’t get ADSL services at all.

      And if you think NextG is a suitable substitute, think again. You’re flat out getting 500kbps when every single house in the area is trying to access the same NextG tower….if you can even get a signal.

      1. Telecoms Engineer 27 October, 2010 — 7:14 am


        Long copper last mile / loop is the issue for a lot of non metro people, in addition to Pair Gain systems.

        But we have to examine the assumption that fibre will in fact be run to all the people who currently cannot get ADSL, the main reason being the cost and the return.

        Its not new that the cost of rollout ramps up EXPONENTIALLY the further you go out. NBNCo has only promised 90-93%, I think the majority of people who cant get ADSL today would still be complaining after the NBN is rolled out, as I am asserting that the benefit for regional and rural AU would be about the same be it FTTN or FTTP, otherwise the cost would need to be significantly greater than 43Bn.

    2. I dont know what industry you actually work in, but I’m in a medium sized company and we are struggling with 40mbps up and down.

      Business has more of a need for far larger than 2 – 10Mbps right now.. not in 10 years .. Do you even know whats going on in the online markets right now? cloud, backups, virtualisation, voip, email..

      Your entire arguement is a joke, business is already struggling with over priced and under bandwidth products from tel$tra .. yet here you are suggesting its going to be ok for the next 10 years, LOL

  16. @Telecoms Engineer “I’m quite happy with a 1.5Km copper local loop”

    The problem is that there are thousands of homes that are not part of a “1.5km local loop”. You city people apparently have NFI when it comes to infrastructure that exists in rural and regional areas. There are hundreds-of-thousands of Australians who are unable to get ADSL at all and millions more who cannot get more than about 10Mbps over ADSL2+ all due to distance from the node.

    @Telecoms Engineer “our data needs and applications has not changed much since 2000.”

    What planet are you living on? In 2000 we didn’t have VoIP/skype, mp3 files, youtube, video streaming or HDTV. An Operating System or software update was maybe 5MB in size. Digital photography was basically non-existent, and the thought of emailing someone a 10MB JPEG file was laughable. And this says nothing of the massive data use of business with their offsite IP-based backups. And you think that these advances have not added to our data needs?????? OMG, time to move back into your cave.

    1. I agree completely to the last paragraph. I am at the moment on a sat connection speed reminiscent of 2000’s. 400kbps is my top speed at 2-4am in the morning, dropping down in peak times to 5kbps, so I’m unable to skype, stream youtube or any other video site, HDTV is definitely out.. System updates have to be done elsewhere and transferred to my systems as updates in the background make my internet connection unusable. I regularly get drop outs of file downloads (legitimate ones Flashplayer etc).

      Users who are classed as metro users have no reason to bitch, come and conduct your business from our neighbourhood and I can bet the first page they loaded they would cry. LTE 4G is ridiculous prices and so are the satellite connection monthly fees. I would be absolutely over the moon if I was even able to get an ADSL2+ with even 50gb, let alone unlimited plans. If they are going to railroad regional areas into 4G or Sat dishes then the download limitations have to be removed and more satellite bandwidth must be put into place.

      I even wonder what the point of limiting data usage is? I know people who pay for 200gb-500gb a month and use about 50gb of their allowance. Why cant the unused bandwidth and data be used by others. if everyone was on an unlimited connection there would be a small amount of heavy traffic users (500GB+ per user a month) and the rest would still have what they have now?????????? Corporate greed is the only explanation I come up with. I responded earlier to a comment about a metro users area comments about rural areas the cause of problems in metro infrastructure upgrades. Or they have to pay for our rollout……………..I will state facts that show otherwise……. Our area is classed as a regional area. 6 Months ago I wanted to connect an ADSL2+ connection near the Gympie CBD, DODO Broadband and Eftel Communications said the exact same thing………because im in a regional area I have to pay $79.99 per month instead of $49.95 per month advertised on the TV. This means we pay for our own infrastructure, not the internet users in the city.

      I challenge some one to come to my area and direct their normal business dealings from my neighbourhood even for a day.

      1. You’re talking about the current system, not the NBN. The current situation is a result of the disaster the Howard Govt left communications in, with monopoly Telstra charging 3rd parties (e.g. Dodo) more to install their own infrastructure in regional areas they they are charged in cities. I’m in the same situation myself. You could try Pennytel. They did (and maybe still do) offer unlimited ADSL2+ even on Telstra hardware. I pay $90/month for unlimited ADSL2+ and VoIP, in a regional area.

        The reason why unlimited plans are rare is because Telcos effectively pay for their use of major links by the MB. So they pass those charges on…. with a handy profit margin on top….

        Under the NBN a 12 or 25 Mbps connection is the same price whether you are in the city or the bush. Whether your connection is on FTTP, LTE or satellite. That was one of the key reasons Labor decided to build the NBN with uniform national pricing. Again, the reason why Labor ordered two state-of-the-art satellites rather than use old ones (as the Coalition wanted to do) was to increase the available bandwidth for those on sat.

        While the Coalition have abandoned FTTP for FTTN, the same uniform pricing rules will remain as they are part of NBN legislation, which they cannot change without Senate support (which they don’t have), the main difference being that FTTN users will not be able to choose (and pay extra for) a super connection of 100Mbps or more.

  17. Telecoms Engineer 21 October, 2010 — 1:52 pm


    And you think that FTTP will honour its promise in providing regional and rural AU with true high speed internet and communications? That makes me laugh.

    Lots of graphs showing (projected speeds, Au vs. rest of the world, 3G etc.) is all just handwaving. But one important one is the cost per km as you go further out away from the cities, and the proportionate reduction in return from subsribers. As below-,a-graphical-guide-to-the-nbn-implementation-study.aspx/6

    And this just shows COSTS, not even ROI. Which would accelerate that even faster past 80%. Hence if you are in the 80%+ band your communications would be no better FTTP vs FTTN.

    As for applications, all that we do now could be done with the technology of 2000. Remembering that in 2000 we had 8Mbps HFC networks -and- ADSL2+ technology although artificially capped by Telstra.

    1. Erm, it was plain old ADSL that was capped at 1.5Mbps by Telstra back in 2000. The ADSL2+ standard wasn’t even ratified until 2003, and annex M came later. I would’ve thought that a “telecoms engineer” would know these things….

      And do I really have to point out what a catastrophic failure the HFC rollout turned out to be? If I recall correctly Optus even went so far as to announce that they’ve given up of HFC completely (i.e. no more rollouts), and I don’t blame them. Optus was Mary, and Telstra the (not so) little lamb – wherever Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.

      And once again, your mindset is completely wrong. Looking at what was and what is, rather than trying to see what’s coming. Hell, there’s already a lot of “what is” that we’re missing out on, because we’re already falling behind.

      1. Telecoms Engineer 22 October, 2010 — 9:49 am

        facepalm, the finer points please … the equipment installed by Telstra throughout the 2000s were capable of delivering ADSL2+ , or at least speeds to 24Mbits. And my point being that the technology we had ten years ago is still being used today, only that today this technology is being used to its full capability, due to various real and artificial restraints, both technological and business.

        DSL technology will continue for another 10 years+ even if FTTP were to roll out tomorow, hence the point being that ADSL in its original form based on entirely copper technology has a lifespan of at least 20 years. Its not a stretch of the imagination and reasoing that hybrid fibre copper FTTN is very likely in reality to have a 20 year lifespan also. A similar kind of reasoning is used for HFC and also wireless.

        Hence the business model for FTTN is a very water tight one…

    2. Yes FTTP will honour it’s promise, to ~93% of rural homes anyway. I suppose as a “telecoms engineer” (?!) you’d be well aware that the distance limitations of copper will not apply to fibre, thereby delivering 100Mb+ to people who are currently lucky to get 5. And the final 7% can have 12 via wireless or satellite.

      There are many people which an FTTN network will not help one little bit and these are the people who will benefit most from the NBN. There is no point having FTTN when the node is 2+km from the house!

      As facepalm wrote…. ADSL2+ wasn’t even a standard until 2003 (let alone deployed anywhere) so pretty hard to claim it was around in 2000. Telecom engineer are you? Again, what does it matter when a sizable portion of the country CANNOT GET IT ANYWAY.

      But whether ADSL2+ was around is not the point. You said “our **data needs and applications** has not changed much since 2000”, you didn’t say “our data delivery technologies” had not changed since 2000.

      Again…. please try answering my original point instead of building up a strawman:

      In 2000 we didn’t have VoIP/skype, mp3 files, youtube, video streaming or HDTV. An Operating System or software update was maybe 5MB in size. Digital photography was basically non-existent, and the thought of emailing someone a 10MB JPEG file was laughable. And this says nothing of the massive data use of business with their offsite IP-based backups.

      Please explain to us non-engineers how the above examples do not represent a “(massive) change in our data needs and applications?”.

      1. Telecoms Engineer 22 October, 2010 — 10:10 am

        What kind of engineer am I? An honest one, and a good one.

        I have my doubts as to whether NBN will be able to provide reliable fibre services to regional AU, they will be fighting a very steep uphill business case (refer to,a-graphical-guide-to-the-nbn-implementation-study.aspx/6 ). FTTP will not be able to provide regional services much better than FTTN but at more than 5x the cost and 2-3 times the build time.

        The only thing going for regional AU is that they are willing to throw more money at it -and- in one lump sum, this approach usually ends up with the money being frittered away and poor planning, design and business modelling. Disaster in the making.

      2. Telecoms Engineer 22 October, 2010 — 10:42 am

        Its funny you should use the term ‘strawman’ because the entire FTTP NBN project case has been built on strawman arguments.

        You have to appreciate that the points I’m putting through are quite concise – although subtle, they are rational and grounded. We are talking about Web advancements that will require fibre; firstly, such Web applications do not exist nor are they in general release. Most of these so called applications are still in RnD phase, they’ve not even reach production, let alone mass release. You merely have to look at how long it took for data intensive applications like YouTube to emerge and to evolve from its RnD to general uptake.

        In addition, look at social networking tools like Facebook that utilises bandwidth that technologically was capable 10 years before it was even in the common vernacular eg. ADSL2+ and HFC.

        Stephen Conroy is trying to convince us that there is no such thing as Web evolution, and that applications simply spring up fully developed and ready to fully make use of a fibre network. this was the same kind of thinking that created the bubble. The reality is, it emerged ten years later, and hence only today is the dark fibre being used up.

        1. If I had FTTP, I would rarely travel to the office. At the moment, I only travel to the office for HD video conferences. This is just not possible on an ADSL2+ service with the upload speeds being so limited.

          From 4-5 days per week in the CBD, this would be cut down to 1-2 days hence saving on carbon emissions.

          I am also a Telecoms Engineer and find it extremely hard to believe that you can’t see applications which would be booming should we Australia have access to stable broadband.

          Things which spring to mind which are available today are HD video conferencing, multicast hd video (foxtel, IPTV), Streaming HD movies (Netflix etc.), remote video contact centre agents, hosted pc backups, hosted storage, hobby video producing (uploading large videos to the internet for processing etc.), uploading stupid amounts of hd quality photos taken from DSLRs which seem to be all the rage at the moment, and I am sure the list just goes on and on…

          I am not sure that anyone could’ve predicted the current age we live in where people share almost every part of their day-to-day life online even 5 years ago.. however you are able to predict what broadband speeds are to be required in 10 years from now? All I can say is that today’s bandwidth is not enough for today’s applications and it is only going to get worse unless a large investment is made to help catch up.

          Should Australia fall behind even further, we will miss the next big wave in online productivity which will be a fully functioning remote worker who is able to collaborate with anyone in the world realtime.

          1. Conroy’s insistence on a FTTP NBN for most of Australia GUARANTEES that most of Australia will fall behind the rest of the world. Most of the developed world (Germany, UK, NZ, USA) can get much faster speeds than us NOW because they went with a much more modestly priced technology that has much higher ROI and therefore is a risk that the private sector is willing to take = fast, efficient, inexpensive rollout.

            The ROI on FTTP is so low that most private rollouts have either ceased of been severely cut back due to the GFC (including Greece’s “permanently on hold FTTP rollout” but FTTP rollouts in the US and Europe have also been affected).

            The fact that many of the more ‘fiscally sane’ countries can get 40-80Mbps using much cheaper FTTN technologies means that they have more than ample speed NOW and the private sector is making a return on their invetment: something that won’t happen with our NBN if they insist on the most insanely expensive option for most of Australia – FTTP.

            Meanwhile – while you wait for fiber to come rolling down your street – which could be up to 2021 – yes 9 years from now – enjoy your ADSL because that’s all you get until the fiber comes to your place. No private company is going to make any further investment in residential broadband while the government is building a network that will eventually mean their investment is worthless. Given the current rollout schedule is already waaaaay behind estimates and the take up is on average 11% (73% is required to make the NBN ‘break even’) you’d have to be insane or like betting on dead horses to continue to push for the most expensive broadband solution in the world. Much better to push for something that can be delivered much quicker and at a fraction of the cost. FTTN can do for Australia what it does in UK, NZ, Germany, USA, Switzerland.

            Australia: Most expensive carbon tax in the world
            Australia: Most expensive broadband rollout in the world

            See the pattern here… and soon you won’t have the freedom to speak the truth because ‘truth’ will be defined by the Government if the latest hair brain idea on media censorship gets wings.

          2. You keep repeating the same tired and misleading arguments.

            Three of the four countries you mentioned (NZ, UK, Germany) have all now decided that FTTN isn’t up to the job and are now rolling out FTTP. The last country, the USA, already has an FTTP network covering over 15 million premises, and they also have Google beginning the rollout of their FTTP network in Houston. Not to mention that they already have fast HFC cable covering most the country, an enviable position that isn’t duplicated in Australia.

            FTTN (or even HFC) would have been a fantastic idea if we did it 5-or-more years ago. Unfortunately, we didn’t. And the very countries you named above have decided that FTTN is yesterdays technology. They are replacing it. Why on earth would we want to install an obsolete technology that the countries you named as “examples” have already decided top replace? It is pure madness, based on your obvious political leanings rather than on common sense or expert advice. FTTN was proposed a number of times in Australia, including by the ALP. Yet it was rejected time and again for assorted reasons, the last of which by a telecommunications expert panel which recommended we go with FTTP.

            The number of countries rolling out FTTP is in fact increasing all the time. Apart from the well-known Asian countries and the countries you misleadingly named above, the Government of Qatar announced early last year that they are rolling out FTTP to 95% of their homes and 100% of the businesses. In December, Israel announced they too are rolling out FTTP, with over 60% of their premises forecast to be connected by 2016. Fibre to the Premises rollouts Worldwide.

          3. I’m not normally this blunt with the author of a website but I have to commend NBN Myths on their complete MISREPRESENTATION of the truth:

            “Three of the four countries you mentioned (NZ, UK, Germany) have all now decided that FTTN isn’t up to the job and are now rolling out FTTP.”

            Facts: Never did any of these say the FTTN is not up to the job. They have decided long ago that FTTN is a great ‘phase 1’ of a 2 phase rollout of FTTP. In fact the author of this site should really check their facts before making such claims:

            Germany are in the process of upgrading current FTTN rollouts to FTTP (phase 2). What is extremely important here is that they are rolling out FTTN to areas that currently have ADSL (Phase 1). Let me repeat that: Germany are rolling out FTTN to areas that currently have ADSL. This is hardly something they’d be doing if they had ‘now decided FTTN isn’t up to the job’.

            Research, fact and less spin please!!!!!!!!

            FTTN is an much less expensive, high ROI investment to get speeds up to 40-80Mbps depending on scenario in a very short amount of time – only need to run fiber to a node instead of the hundreds of homes connected to that node – you do the maths on both rollout time and expense to see why smart countries like NZ, UK, Germany and many parts of the US have chosen this option.

            If NZ has ‘now decided’ that FTTN is not up to the job then why did they rollout 120 core fiber to each FTTN node when they rolled out their FTTN network? Because contrary to your claim, they didn’t ‘now decide’ FTTN wasn’t up to the job.

            They chose to do a very smart thing and rollout sufficient fiber to each node (fiber is cheap, laying it is slow and insanely expensive) so that they could upgrade FTTN to FTTP further down the track when required/economically viable or when the FTTN investment has given sufficient return – which is usually not a very long time given the massive ROI that FTTN gives over FTTP.

            I’m hoping this truth isn’t so offensive so as not to be published.

          4. Thanks. You’ve just repeated pretty much everything I’ve said, with a bit of spin for good measure. Thanks for agreeing that the three countries you listed as examples of FTTN, are now upgrading that FTTN to FTTP.

            I agree it was smart for countries to do FTTN 5+ years ago. Pity we didn’t have a smart Government back then or we might have it now too, postponing the need for the NBN. But, as that ship has now sailed, I repeat that it is ridiculous to roll out an obsolete technology when we have the opportunity to leapfrog it. The simple fact is that it is far, far cheaper to go from ADSL>FTTP than it is to go from ADSL>FTTN>FTTP. Leapfrogging FTTN saves billions of dollars in infrastructure associated with street cabinets (ie: the cabinets themselves, their power supplies and backup batteries, IT support systems, the DSLAMs, everyone buying VDSL modems etc etc).

          5. “Thanks for agreeing that the three countries you listed as examples of FTTN, are now upgrading that FTTN to FTTP.”

            Of course I agree because FTTN is an ideal phase 1 step in any two phase ADSL->FTTN then FTTN->FTTP rollout.

            *Your* spin by omission (or maybe you didn’t read my post completely), is to leave out the crucial fact that Germany are upgrading ADSL->FTTN even as we speak. They aren’t jumping straight from ADSL->FTTP, obviously ignoring your advice that they could be *saving* billions by going straight from ADSL->FTTP.

            You’d better give those silly Germans a call to let them know the error of their ways 😉

            Or perhaps they’re right and they understand economics 101 with simply concepts like:
            – the ‘time value’ of money
            – Return on investment

  18. A few other networking references of possible interest:

    1) In 2007, the uptake of fibre to the home in South Korea and Japan overtook the uptake of ADSL. You can see the current dominance of fibre for Korea and Japan in this OECD figure:

    Singapore is also constructing a gigabit passive optical network (GPON) – see

    i.e. Australia is definitely in catch up mode compared to neighbours.

    2) Key OECD ICT Indicators,3343,en_2649_34225_33987543_1_1_1_1,00.html

    By the way, some commentators continue to use the word monopoly
    when arguing against the NBN. They refuse to acknowledge the fact that the NBN is an open-access wholesaler that provides the foundation for the multiple Retail Service Providers (that are already selling services in Tasmania and the selected mainland trial sites). Anyway, searching for the word “monopoly” in NBN discussions is a useful way to categorise some contributions.

  19. Telecoms Engineer 22 October, 2010 — 12:23 pm

    AU isnt Sth Korea or Singapore, it isnt even UK or USA … to prove this, I show you this chart, have a look at the curve towards the end, how it rises very rapidly,,a-graphical-guide-to-the-nbn-implementation-study.aspx/6

    Thats what we have to contend with, Im sure if you look at a Japanese, Korean or Singapore chart, it would be very flat, and and closer to the horizontal axis.

    1. But TE, if one was to do a similar chart for your FTTN proposal, it would likely look very similar (albeit with smaller figures). Whether we like it or not, the fact is that we live in a big country and it costs more to build services in sparsely populated areas.

      I’m also sure that if you did a chart for the delivery of electricity services it would also rise rapidly for the last 10%. So what’s the solution? Not give those last 10% any electricity? Seriously, imagine if people like you had been making that argument when the electricity grid was being rolled out. There is no way anyone could make a financial argument to deliver power to the rural areas. But there is more to life than the finances. There is also the social considerations, and as a country we decide that (almost) everyone deserves to have access to the power grid. In the same way, the NBN promises that (almost) everyone should have access to affordable, fast data services. And so they should.

  20. Telecoms Engineer 25 October, 2010 — 6:04 am

    NBN Myths:

    Conroy has in virtually all the interviews i’ve seen him do, do nothing but make strawman arguments, just this weekend, he points out that America has a lagging telecoms infrastructure and that we should be looking at Singapore and Sth Korea as an example of where we should be headed. Now, I find this a bit of a worry, since I would’ve thought that Au’s position in terms of technological cost and adoption would be more similar with the USA rather than our Asian neighbours, due to the fact that countries like Singapore and Japan have a highly dense population.

    Conroy also tried to convince us that FTTN and FTTP were not much different in terms of feasibility, thus not required (lol), although it’s plainly obvious that one will cost more than 5x as much.

    The striking difference is that FTTN is a low risk venture, whereas FTTP has very little clear and defined elements to it, be it profitability, productivity, technology and costs.

  21. To the author – thank you for an excellent collection of information, logically laid out and written clearly for the technically challenged.

    To TE: My parents live just 15km outside one of Australia’s largest inland cities, next to a major highway. However, they are 6km+ from the exchange, and in any case the exchange is not ADSL enabled, so their only options are satellite and wireless. They used satellite for about 2 years, which was horrendously expensive, very slow and incredibly unreliable, before switching to NextG about 6 months ago. Even with a large and expensive aerial on the roof, their internet is still slow and intermittant, and still far more expensive than an equivalent ADSL service. Their connection is barely viable for OS updates and emails, let alone VOIP calls – and for this pitiful service, they pay $40 a month, on top of their $30 line rental for fixed phone.

    It’s this kind of scenario that clearly demonstrates to me that a FTTN network supplemented with wireless is not what our country needs. Businesses in rural areas cannot rely on over-crowded, over-priced, under-performing wireless broadband to conduct their trade.

    Yes, NBN is expensive. But doing it once the right way is a far better outcome than FTTN+wireless that will never give rural and regional areas metro-comparable broadband access.

  22. Telecoms Engineer 27 October, 2010 — 8:16 am


    The distance issue keeps popping up. Sure its true that fibre can supply 100Mbit to a lot of regional centres, before you support a FTTP build you probably want to see whether your suburb is on the list. 43Bn seems like a lot but in national infrastructure projects of this scale, there is a very high burn rate. In addition to whether they can meet the 90-93% target.

    Depending on the density of your area, it is probably more feasible to upgrade to FTTN technology, which would be cost effective, and I would accept that there will always be people who will be on 4Mbps and some on 20Mbps.

    What Conroy wants, as in this –

    is for a uniform leap to 100Mbit for everyone via fibre, although sounds good in theory and a one fix solution, i question the viability.

    A lot of the complaints about RIMS and local loop issues come as a result of Telstra not upgrading its non metro network for over 10 years. A lot of these issues could be resolved if RIMS were replaced or upgraded with ADSL2+ or new ISAMS installed in DA’s that have been long neglected and are reliant on the exchange to provide the ADSL or Data service, hence many people on 4Mbit or outside of Service Qualification. FTTP technically is the solution, but from a business perspective, it seems unrealistic.

    1. Thanks for the civil and thoughtful reply.

      I’ve checked NBNCo’s coverage maps and my parent’s place will be covered by both fixed wireless and fibre – remember, they’re not far outside of a major regional centre, which is why them not even having an ADSL-enabled exchange is such a travesty.

      Even if their local exchange were upgraded as part of a FTTN project, they would still not get anything better than 1Mbps due to length of the copper loop. And this is an area that’s close to a major city….it’s much worse for people another 5km down the road who are also on the same exchange.

      You say that “FTTP technically is the solution, but from a business perspective, it seems unrealistic” – that’s true from a business perspective, but this is an infrastructure project. Like all infrastructure projects, it’s a major financial outlay for largely social, rather than economic, benefits. The difference is that NBN will actually make money in a few years time.

  23. NBN Myths, I am curious – do you plan on doing future pieces debunking the horrible mess that is the Liberal Party’s broadband policy? What you’ve done is a fine start, but it’s just that – a start. It would be a great public service to communicate exactly how the Coalition’s policies are a total farce.

    1. The coalition would have to actually have a policy before one could attack it!

  24. Telecoms Engineer is spot on. I am an electrical engineer and software developer with 5 years experience in telecom.

    do it the quickest, risk free method as possible – with FTTN.

    Sort out the legal stuff to ensure Telstra has to be sharing and caring and give us 30-80mbps in the next 12-18 months instead of 100mbps FTTH in 5-8 years if you are extremely lucky and manage to avoid labor mismanagement, cost blowouts, more further world recessions and gubmint redirecting nbn funds to hospitals and roads in marginal electorates.

    Given the current gubmint’s record on program execution you’d have to be a mad punter to bet on a $43 billion actually rolling out as “promised”. The smart punter would go for a much more modest endeavour that suits our short and medium term needs because a timely FTTH rollout within a decade is a pipe dream.

    @site author
    You have introduced some myths of your own in regard to FTTN which I will debunk in a future post.

  25. “Fibre-to-the-node was not a stepping stone to fibre-to-the-premise. In fact, if anything it would put it backwards.”

    – Reg Coutts

    You would have thought that Mr Coutts, as an academic, would have done some research before making crazy claims like that. Switzerland has had a full FTTN rollout for years and are now entering phase 2 – enhancing the network by replacing last mile copper with fiber to end up with FTTH. It’s a sensible, risk free approach that gets everyone a ‘world standard’ speed in a short time with the ability to upgrade to full fiber as phase 2. The only countries where a full single phase FTTH rollout make sense are highly dense Asian countries or semi third world Eastern European countries that never really had a proper, working copper network to begin with. Other places, like the US, are powering along on high speed FTTN and HFC networks. There have been some FTTH rollouts but Verizon had recently announced they have ceased their FTTH rollout plans because why? — non viability!
    Customers are happy with 30-50Mbps via FTTN networks and HFC. They just can’t warrant the excessive labor costs in full fiber rollouts when people are more than happy with their current speed from these “lesser” technologies.

    That should be lesson number one for the NBNers… taxpayers will be paying out $billions$ to build something that maybe an extra 25% speed increase over technologies that could have been built for free by private industry given the right, intelligently derived legislation/motivations.

    “No ADSL2+ DSLAM will ever provide a link faster than 24Mbit/sec (+/- fudge factors) without a forklift upgrade regardless of how far technology marches. If an FTTN network is built and all the cabinets are filled with ADSL2+ DSLAMs, it’ll never get faster.”

    – Mark Newton

    I don’t know who Mark Newton is but if he’s talking about putting ADSL2+ DSLAMs into FTTN cabinets then he’s really ignorant or doesn’t do much telco industry research. VSDL is the technology of choice for today’s FTTN rollouts. It’s what NZ has rolled out and now they have high speed broadband that makes our ADSL2+ connections look like model T Fords.

    Trying to make equate FTTN with ADSL technology is a favourite tactic of the blind NBN zealots. Keep an eye out for that FUD.

    With FTTN cabinets you make sure you run out a few extra fiber cables from the exchange to each node. The cost of the cable isn’t the expensive part – it’s the labour involved – so the smart operators pull through extra fiber cables to the node so that it can handle a future upgrade to fiber all the way, without excessive additional costs.

    “While it’s true that variations of this technology can achieve about 300Mbps, this is reliant on a technique called bonding which uses two pairs of copper phone lines. So to achieve these speeds you’d need to run a second phone line into your house,”

    – Site author

    You make a very interesting statement! You skillfully neglect to inform the readers that it has always been standard practice for Telstra to install a dual pair cable into all dwellings so that they don’t have to route another cable if the residents want a second phone or a fax line. In other words most homes in Australia already have 2 pairs so that they can already do pair bonding – there is NO need to run a second phone line into your house.

    Dare I point out that your statement is interesting because it resembles FUD on a website that is claiming to eliminate the FUD surrounding FTTH vs FTTN vs others?

    1. Having worked for a telco or two myself, the main concern I would have with FTTN is it doesn’t really fix the main problems we’re experiencing right now: namely anyone more than 3000 metres from their exchange/node and those unfortunate souls stuck on Pair-Gains.

      One of the interesting questions I put forward to those who are opposed to the NBN, nobody questions the Government spending billions of dollars investing in roads, freeways, rain-networks or expects a road to return a net-profit in 5-10 years… why is that??

      1. With very few exchanges relative to the distances in suburban areas you get a lot of people who are 3000m from an exchange. That’s where FTTN steps in – lots more nodes than exchanges, intelligently distributed throughout neighbourhoods to reduce the distance from houses to nodes to 1000-1500m – so millions more Australians get FTTN speeds from 30-100mbps.

        By distributing the nodes intelligently you also eradicate the pair gain problem. The pair gain problem occurs because there are not enough lines going the whole length from the exchange to people’s houses so at some point in the network two pairs become are joined via a pair gain device. So long as the node is placed downstream of the pair gain device the pair gain device is no longer needed and the two homes previously connected long distance from the exchange via a low bandwidth pair gain device are now connected via a dedicated pair to an FTTN node – i.e. they go from dial up speeds to FTTN speeds – in just a couple of months.

        The alternative for these people it to wait for the 8-10 years it might take for a fiber rollout to happen past their door – if they’re lucky. Meanwhile they are stuck with their dialup speeds … this is where insisting on a full fiber to the home rollout is just nuts. Some people will be stuck in the stone age for many years to come.

  26. “For wireless to be an effective alternative to fibre, we would quite literally need a tower on every street corner.”

    Having a full-sized tower on every street corner sounds completely ridiculous, but as I read this, I started to wonder. If there was a tower on every street corner, it would presumably not need to be very powerful to cover its entire “cell”, and it would not need to have an antenna much larger than the one on my wireless router. Is it really that unimaginable to have a small box at the top of every, say, 5, telegraph poles?

    This is not my area of expertise, and I am openly speculating, so please flame me gently when you correct my misconceptions.

    1. It’s no doubt possible to have such a network, but what’s the advantage? You’d need to run fibre to every ‘tower’, plus install and power the towers. So the cost would likely be considerably more than the FTTP NBN. It would also use more electricity, and there would be problems with tower handover. A small network along these lines was trialled in Japan years ago, but it wouldn’t work from moving vehicles because the network couldn’t keep pace with the handoffs from one tower to the next. Also, 4G networks aren’t designed to be high-density, low range. You’d need a different technology.

      You would also still have issues with spectrum availability.

      1. Thank you for your considered explanation.

        I could counter some details of those points, but as a whole they are convincing.

        Thank you again.

  27. 3. We will never need that much speed or data

    While I don’t disagree that we need the speed or data, the NBN Corporate Plan predicts that i 2028, 50% of Australia will be connected on a 12/1Mbps plan. That is depressing.

    1. That’s why the NBN’s draconian FTTH approach in most places is such a brain dead idea. Borrowing $43Billion from China that our kids and grandkids will be paying off for years to come and still have 50% of the population on 12/1mbit links…. hmmm, this NBN needs a serious reconsideration.

      Many countries in the world enjoy speeds much greater than that using FTTN technology at a fraction of the cost of the NBN’s FTTH. For those that want 1Gbps let them pay to have their FTTN node become a FTTH/FTTN hybrid and let them also pay to replace their copper with fiber. ie. user pays – I know the socialists hate that idea but in case they haven’t realized communism collapsed about 20 years ago and China, the only major *communist* country would be providing the loan for the NBNCo’s socialist gesture… if that’s not irony then I don’t know what is.

      1. What’s wrong with borrowing from China as a concept? After all they buy our coal which the tax shy miners deliver using publicly funded infrastructure.

        Do you have any views on our buying more submarines when we don’t have crews for the ones we have already?

        1. I have a problem with borrowing from anyone when the whole reason capitalism nearly collapsed in recent times was too much debt. Everyone acknowledges that Australia made it through the crisis so well was due to the fact that our debt was small (non existent before the Rudster/Guillotine guvment came to power). Ever since the Rudster/Guillotine guvment came to power we’ve gone further and further into debt – I don’t have to point out what is wrong with this picture.

          I find the fact that we’re borrowing from China (officially a communist/socialist country but actually the most successful capitalist country of our era) to fund socialist style hand outs like “1GHz for everyone at any cost”, pretty funny. They would probably find it pretty funny also I imagine. The sooner this place goes bust the quicker they can buy up what isn’t already owned by US, UK and Japanese corporations.

          BTW I’m not xeonphobic: I don’t like our aussie farms and businesses being sold of to any other country (even the US or UK). It’s just that the Chinese seem to be the ones with the most money to throw around these days.

  28. Borrowing some is healthy. Borrowing too much is poisonous.

  29. I live in Tasmania in an area that has ADSL and some have ADSL2. The NBN people have told us our area will not be connected to fibre but will get wireless where we get a signal and the others will be on Satellite. The copper will be decommissioned in 2014. We are 5km from the end of the current fibre bachbone. The current connection gives a satisfactory VIOP and allows us to conduct a business from home.

    See the full story here

    Based on the discussion above we will be dropped to an inferior connection. Already residents who run a business from home are contemplating their furure and a need to move but who will buy their house on wireless when there is fibre just up the road.

    1. Unfortunately GK your story will be replicated thousands of times over as this draconian monster FTTH NBN devised by the control freak’s “control freak”, Spinister Conroy, takes hold and blows up in our faces.

      For years he rambled on about the ‘two tier’ internet and now he’s creating a two tiered monster by the sounds of it.

      Why the control freak insistence on REMOVING WORKING EXISTING COPPER you ask? It rules out competition to his monster NBN “ENSURING” its success.

      Decommissioning copper eliminates any chance of a competitor setting up a smart and rational and infinitely cheaper FTTN (fiber to the node) network like they do in just about every other developed country. Like in the US where FTTH has been found to be wildly expensive and consumers choose more rational FTTN suppliers instead and get speeds that make our current ADSL look like we’re living in a third world country – which many of us will continue to have for the many, many, many years it take to roll out fiber to Australia’s 10,000,000 premises… or not if ur “outside the backbone”.

      1. Pretty much everyone in wireless/satellite areas will receive a big boost in performance. If an area slated for wireless, say, wants fibre (and who wouldn’t?) they may be able to pay towards having fibre run out.

      2. Technically, we already have Fibre To The Node. Our nodes are our exchanges, and when you look at “FTTN” deployments around the world, we are typical of them.

        I realise you are talking about street-cabinet type nodes. To really benefit from this type of rollout, we would need to build nodes within 1km of every premises. We would have to run fibre to every one of these nodes, install DSL DSLAMs into them, and supply electricity to the nodes.

        This is not a small, fast or cheap undertaking, especially when you consider that there are already over 9,000 telephone exchanges in Australia, yet the average distance from exchange to premises is about 3km. In other words, you are talking about building around 30,000 to 40,000 nodes if you want to achieve a decent performance gain. Cabinet-compatible Mini DSLAMs only cover 8 houses though, so we’d need to buy at least 1.5 million of them to build the network.

        And then what? What happens in 20 years when the rest of the world has finished their Gigabit FTTP and we are stuck at MAYBE 50Mbps (Which is all you get from 2-pair-bonded VDSL2 @1km)? Do we start all over again?

        You are proposing we put another handle on Grandpa’s old axe, even though it’s blunt and rusty. We know we’re going to have to buy a new one eventually, so let’s get it over with, cause it ain’t going to get any cheaper with time.

        1. @NBN Myths

          “Technically, we already have Fibre To The Node.”

          Sorry, no one understands FTTN that way – including you as you go on to say that you do understand, like most people do, that FTTN implies small cabinets that are obviously different to the large telephone exchanges.

          “Our nodes are our exchanges, and when you look at “FTTN” deployments around the world, we are typical of them.

          Please stop this misinformation so that we can have a proper discussion: Typical FTTN around the world is NOT an Exchange only topology devoid of street cabinets.

          “Cabinet-compatible Mini DSLAMs only cover 8 houses though, so we’d need to buy at least 1.5 million of them to build the network.”

          That’s funny. Are you trying to deny the existence of FTTN altogether? First you try to make out like it’s just a nodeless, exchange only style topology like we have now but then you go to the other extreme and attempt to convince us that FTTN is really FTTC (Fiber to the Curb) – small curbside cabinets servicing 8 houses.

          In case you have confused some readers here is a FTTx tutorial that explains the difference. It even has a picture of a FTTN node as evidence that they do exist to quash your theory that most countries just have an “FTTN like our current network” (Cmon man you can do better than that!)

          I know Australia is not a densely populated country but most in suburbs I think you would agree that there are more than 8 homes per 1km radius.

          Your sensationalist claim that Australia would need 1.5 million FTTN nodes is extremely hypocritical for someone who claims to be a ‘myth debunker’.

          FTTN (not FTTC) nodes can each service the hundreds of homes that are within a 1-2 km range in any given Australian suburb – and they can do this using the existing copper saving the tax payer billions by not having to replace every one of those existing copper pairs with fiber, ripping up footpaths, front gardens, pulling cables through peoples’ roof spaces, walls etc., Attempting such an FTTH dream is a logistic nightmare and fraught with cost blowouts and extremely length rollout times.

          Hopefully this comment will not get moderated so that the factual corrections within it may be available so that the so called ‘myth buster’ doesn’t become the ‘myth producer’.

          1. Whoops, forgot the link to the FTTx tutorial 😉


          2. I didn’t say we’d need 1.5 million nodes, I said we’d need 1.5 million DSLAMs in the nodes. These are the standard 8-port mini-DSLAMs for street cabinets. But even with a larger
            24-port DSLAM
            , we’d need >500,000 of them, at >$2,000 each.

            Now for speeds….VDSL2 delivers 50Mbps at 1km from the node using 2pr of bonded copper. That’s 1km of copper, not a “1km radius”. The copper runs through ducts or on poles, not in straight lines, and you lose 10-20 metres just getting from the street into the property. So in effect, to deliver 50Mbps, you’d need to build a node about every 700-800m, just to deliver a speed 1/20th of what the NBN will do. And of course, you need to link every one of those nodes with fibre. So the fibre component (by distance) of FTTN isn’t much less than from FTTP. Think about that 800m distance. For 50Mbps, assuming a std 18m frontage, a node could serve at most 80 homes, except for tight blocks where you could put them on a corner and run in 4 directions. But there are hundreds of thousands of premises in semi-rural or commercial areas where the houses/buildings are several hundred metres apart, meaning to deliver that 50Mbps to them, you’d need to build a node for every 2 or 3 properties. Surely it must be obvious that such a system would be more expensive, slower and less efficient than running FTTP to those homes.

            Remember, to gain your supposed savings and reuse the existing copper, you need to lay your nodes out along the existing path of the copper, while maintaining the maximum 1km distance. No small feat. You also assume that every property has 2pr of serviceable copper available when the fact is that this is rarely the case. Where a 2nd pair existed in the first place, it is often non-functional. It’s standard practise for Telstra techs to change to the 2nd pair when the 1st pair fails for some reason. Telstra estimate that only about 20% of premises have 2 pairs of serviceable copper. If that is the case, then to get the 50Mbps, you need to rerun copper to 80% of properties from the new nodes. The savings in this scheme are rapidly drying up.

            You’d still have to dig up footpaths too, because much of the current Telstra pit and pipe isn’t big enough for fibre. That’s why the NBN are upgrading the pits as they do the rollout.

            FTTN was a stop-gap solution, being shunned around the world except by countries/telcos unable to afford to replace their copper networks. FTTP is the way forward and is now being embraced by over 100 countries around the World. Many started over a decade ago. FTTN is an absolute waste of money, propping up an old technology that will inevitably require replacement sooner rather than later. Alan Kohler’s article from 2007 sums it up very well:

            FTTN, which is what the Australian authorities and industry are scrapping over, is a transitional technology. Eventually all of the nodes would become redundant. Because of that, most other countries are moving directly from copper-based ADSL to FTTP.

    2. Hi GK,

      I have looked into your concerns about the copper being decommissioned in 2014, and can reveal that it will not be the case. It is only within the fibre areas that the copper will be decommissioned as the rollout progresses. Outside the fibre area, the copper will be continued until at least July 2022 being maintained by Telstra under contract to the Govt. After 2022, it’s need to remain will be reassessed. You can find this information in the Government NBN and USO Policy statement.

  30. That’s just rubbish golfman.

    The copper will only be decommissioned where fibre is installed. If there is copper where the NBN is wireless or satellite, then the copper stays and you can continue to use ADSL as well. The copper asset is transfered to USO Co from Telstra.

    And you must think that a “two tier system” where 93% can get 1Gbps, and the other 7% can get 12Mbps is somehow worse that your propsal, which would give 100% 12Mbps?

    Welcome to Golfman’s bizarro world.

    FTTN is an expensive, terrible half-baked solution, rejected by the vast majority of countries around the world. See:

    and (Skip down to FTTN)

  31. Paul – We have been told directly that the copper will be decommissioned and we cannot have wireless and copper. I need some assurance that moving from an ADSL service that gives me reasonable VOIP to wireless, possibly Satellite, is an improvement. The wireless performance figures given are a future promise, not currently available or proven.

    I would like to see some 12Mbps systems go into a community like ours now to prove it is a viable alternative and get some runs on the board for the NBN. Keep in mind the issues are not just speed but drop outs and latency. As a current user of data on the 3G network I find wireless very handy but it is no substute for ADSL.

    1. Hi GK,

      I’ve looked into your concerns about the copper being decommissioned in 2014, and can reveal that it will not be the case. It is only within the fibre areas that the copper will be decommissioned as the rollout progresses. Outside the fibre area, the copper will be continued until at least July 2022 being maintained by Telstra under contract to the Govt. After 2022, it’s need to remain will be reassessed. You can find this information in the Government NBN and USO Policy statement.

  32. VDSL2 technology is, by now, well commoditized. Any number of Chinese factories are popping these babies out at the usual, competition driven, low prices:

    Power consumption: 75W nominal for a 24 port DSLAM = ~3W per home… hardly the big green house monster power consumption some alarmists like to make out.

    Most of these units don’t need separate cooling and can be ‘rack stacked’ in cabinets of a size appropriate to the house density of the area they are being installed to:

    In high density areas with lots of high rise you can mout a few curbside cabinets next to the existing Telstra copper pillar and convert entire apartment blocks from slow ADSL to 100mbps VDSL2 within a couple of days of having fiber reach the node (because you don’t have to rewire the entire unit with fibre or coax). In these high density areas the higher density of nodes provides excellent pay back and so the nodes in these areas could be very close (<500m) to each home.

    Also, VDSL2 is backwards compatible with peoples' existing ADSL/2/2+ equipment so there's instant speed increases (due to the lower distance of copper to the DSLAM) and an optional upgrade path to those who want to pay for a VDSL2 modem.

    If someone in this <500m scenario desparately needs more than 100Ghz then, damn it, they can pay to have fiber wired all the way to their premises – why should we all have to pay for that?

    Can you imagine the cost difference in running fiber to a FTTN or FTTC node compared with wiring every individual city/suburban premises with individual fiber? This is why so many countries like Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland etc., have built FTTN networks first and worry about extending it to FTTP later – rollout time and cost.

    If you're happy to wait up to 5-8 years for 100mbps broadband then fine, keep beating your FTTP drum but, if like most people, you'd like 30-100mbps within 6-18months (according to Telstra's own 2007 FTTN rollout plan) then push for FTTN/FTTC now!

    1. If the coalition was in power now, then I’d most certainly be pushing for a FTTH system as a stopgap, because it’s far superior to what they have proposed. But, they aren’t. Whether you like it or not, a far superior system -FTTP- is being rolled out right now, and it will be for at least the next 3 years (There’s no doubt that contracts will extend well beyond the next election). Probably beyond the point of no return (politically). Nothing you can say is going to change that, so you may as well get used to it. And if Labor get back in 2013, by the 2016 election the FTTP NBN will be well over 50% complete, with the wireless and sat components up and running too. That’s well beyond the point of no return.

      With the structural separation of Telstra legislation going through last year, Telstra would be prevented from rolling out FTTH themselves as a retail monopoly. This means that negotiating FTTH would require a similar package to the one they negotiated with the NBN for access to pit, pipe and pole. In addition, you’d need to pay extra for access to the copper itself. Since the coalition have vowed to stop the NBN Co and break it up, moving to a FTTH system (which isn’t their policy anyway) would require a complete rewrite of legislation. Given the support for the FTTP NBN from Labor, the greens and the independents, such a package would be almost impossible to get through the Senate.

      So chances are you have two choices for the next election: Continue FTTP at >100Mbps or scrap it and move back to DSL at 12Mbps peak. Take your pick, because they are the only two choices.

  33. The BER covering all schools is just a big pork barrel exercise just like the NBN which will cover everyone in Australia. Give me strength!

    After the HFC fiasco what private company is game to roll out FTTH?

  34. Readers might find the latest Patch Monday interesting

  35. Dear blog owner

    I am leaving a message here because I couldn’t find any personal contact of the owner of this blog.

    Could you please get back to my email address I left. I would like to send you an official request for permission to archive your website.


  36. The recent internode plans released show that for me to get comparable internet access to what I enjoy now with TPG, it would cost $600 a month, with a speed DECREASE moving to the NBN and still less downloads. $150/month for the basic 12mbps connection speed for 1TB of data is comparable to my adsl2 plan, but with less than a quarter of the downloads.

    1. While it’s true that in some rare cases people may be worse off under the NBN, this will not apply to the majority. If you actually download 4TB of data per month, then you are way, way beyond the average Australian download of 18GB per month. In fact, you download more than 220x more data than the average home or business user in Australia! Doing the sums, even if you get a constant 15Mbps from TPG (almost impossibly unlikely), to download your claimed 4TB per month you’d need to have your connection working at 100% capacity, 24/7 for 23 days of every month. Are you sure about that?

      This aside, if you are getting speeds of over 12Mbps via TPG, then you are also doing much better than most. The average download speed from TPG is only 5Mbps according to The average of all ADSL2+ connections in Australia is only 8-9Mbps. This means even the basic NBN speed is 50% faster than the average today for people who can get ADSL2+. Also, most Australians cannot access the TPG unlimited plans, because it’s only available in certain telephone exchanges. Abut 400 of the 5,000 exchanges in Australia to be more precise.

      However, keep in mind that Internode is a premium ISP and their NBN pricing is the same as their ADSL2+ pricing. As discount ISPs like DoDo and TPG move to the NBN, they will undoubtedly offer similar plans to their current ADSL2+ offerings. DoDo have already announced they expect to NBN phone/net bundles to begin at under $40, and they will offer unlimited access. Also, Exetel have just announced NBN pricing that starts at just $34.50 per month, with the option of a free VoIP line. Their pricing table is much cheaper than Internode’s.

  37. Even tho private industry has shown no move to do that outside of the CBDs? They could do it now, then whenever the NBN reaches them fold their network into the NBN in return for shares in NBN Co which will deliver their investors very big returns.

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  39. Sure Deepy except Telstra only found the CBDs to be profitable.

    1. Here’s the whole NBN logic in a nutshell:

      Only a very small number of areas would be profitable with a fiber to the premises FTTP network so obviously the private sector wouldn’t build it because they don’t like taking on insanely expensive, economically unsustainable, loss making, negative ROI ventures so…..

      …. here’s an idea…

      Make the take payer pay for an insanely expensive, economically unsustainable, loss making, negative ROI venture.

      Sure, that makes perfect sense! NOT!

      It may make sense in some socialist’s idealogical nirvana but Europe’s socialist experiment is a slow motion train wreck that we’re all sitting back watching as we speak! And guess which country is the only one with any financial clout to prevent a total collapse – Germany, one of the few countries that didn’t flirt with socialism – and BTW they roll out FTTN where ADSL currently exists and FTTP where existing FTTN has paid for itself due to its high ROI. Go figure!

      1. No, you really don’t get it Deepy, do you?

        No private enterprise showed any initiative or interest in building FTTN beyond the CBDs. NBN Co is doing it and suddenly all the opportunities it offers are rolling out of an inexhaustible cornucopia and we know it will pay its own way via:

        1. Saving to spending on hospitals and health as Boomers age and grow frail. With NBN they can stay in their own homes—so NBN a great investment for govt and it offers huge benefits to education too, like even the smallest, most remote school being able to receive lectures from eminent experts.

        2. Video on Demand will pay for the NBN many times over. VoD includes:
        a) Movies on demand

        b) video phone calls with hi-def video, lip synching etc. This is going to be huge!

        3. New products and applications that will follow the national rollout of the NBN. The govt is supporting and encouraging with grants to develop health, legal, educational etc services, just read Conroy’s press releases. This will be huge and will empower people

        4. Ending the digital divide and the isolation of the bush.

        Howard just not intelligent enough and too stuck in the past to see this and the dregs the Libs have put up as Oppn Leaders are hopeless, no vision.

        The NBN is a gamechanger and had to be introduced by the govt.

        1. Good to see you’ve read Conroy’s brochures and sucked it up big time.

          You believe that if you want to.

          What sort of bandwidth do you need for a heart monitor? or a dialysis machine? These send tincy packets of data that can be easily sent down a dialup connection. Most of the more intense medical applications can easily work on current ADSL and would be a walk in the part for FTTN.

          The only reason you would need more than the 40-80Mbps that FTTN can give you is if they installed a CATSCAN machine at the patient’s premises (only cost a couple of $mil) and wanted them to live in it while they transmitted MRI images in real time 24/7 – i.e. ain’t ever going to happen – not to mention the radiation you’d expose them to!

          And video on demand – you make that out like it’s a game changer when all you’re changing is the speed of delivery of an existing service. It already exists and works fine on FTTN networks in Germany, USA, UK, NZ. About the only part it changes in the game is that arm chair video addicts don’t have to get out of the seat and drive to the video store. They can store away, as fat, any vital kilojoules they may have lost by getting out of their chair 😉

          1. Nah, ECGs etc require more bandwidth.

            More importantly this in-home care requires redundancy and multiple paths so the info WILL go through.

            When you are behind a crowded, congested RIM or on wireless that is not a given. When you are way out in the regions or in the vast interior that is not a given.

            That is why we need to rerun a proper telecommunications service and if we are going to run it out we do it with the best, with fibre. Elementary school students can grasp this so why can’t you?

          2. “When you are behind a crowded, congested RIM or on wireless that is not a given. When you are way out in the regions or in the vast interior that is not a given.”

            Why do you insist on *pretending* that people speaking against the NBN’s insanely expensive FTTH approach want to keep with the status quo and do nothing? There are many different approaches to providing adequate bandwidth with many different variables such as rollout speed, cost, ROI etc., Each area is different, in CBD’s and high density residential FTTP and FTTC/FTTB make sense. In medium density brownfield suburban areas FTTN makes sense. In any greenfield development FTTP makes sense.

            You should also re-read Conroy’s shiny NBN brochures: Only 93% will get fibre under the NBN. The ‘vast interior’ will be part of the 7% that have to put up with some form of wireless connection – obviously putting their lives at risk according to your thinking.

            “More importantly this in-home care requires redundancy and multiple paths so the info WILL go through.”

            This is the part where you really start exposing yourself as more of a troll than someone with technical credibility. “Redundancy, multiple paths” heh? On FTTP – you’re kidding aren’t you. Are you suggesting that FTTP will have two active fibers running to each house? One master, one redundant standby – because that is the only way you’re going to get true redundancy all the way to the home – or was your intention that I was to ‘breeze over’ that glaringly obvious black hole in your whole ‘medical applications need redundancy’ argument?

            You really need to do more research of the NBN if you’re proposing that your readers attribute to you the credibility a self promoted NBN ‘guru’ should have.

          3. Deepy you really know nothing about the NBN.

            The wireless in the 7% that will only get wireless will get fixed wireless, not mobile and have decent antenna/dishes whatever fixed on their roof, not a little USB doohickey!

            Find out some info then come back.

      2. Are you just making this stuff up as you go along?

        Where is your evidence that the NBN will be a loss-making venture? It is forecast to make a positive ROI, assumptions that have been declared as “achievable” and “reasonable” by KPMG and Greenhill-Caliburn. There are on-budget contracts signed for satellites, wireless and greenfield/brownfield fibre in every state and territory. We have Telstra and Optus deals that effectively guarantee that the NBN takeup assumptions will be met, and it looks as though people are taking up faster services than forecast in the Corporate Plan, meaning NBN Co are earning higher ARPU than forecast.

        There are numerous European countries which are in far better financial positions than Germany, who have done FTTP. Likewise there are many European countries in a worse position than Germany who also did FTTP. I don’t think you need to be a mental giant to work out that whether a country has done FTTP or not isn’t a factor in their current financial position.

        As for the “great socialist nirvana” of Europe (whatever that is), let’s not forget that the “great capitalist nirvana” of the USA isn’t exactly sitting pretty, and hasn’t been for decades: A public debt of ~70% of GDP? $1.2Tr deficit? 10% unemployment? 1.4 million bankruptcies per year? Seems to me they aren’t doing all that much better than “socialist Europe”…..

        I should add that two of the countries who have just announced FTTP (Qatar and Israel) are in quite good financial positions. By your own metrics, you must therefore agree that this is evidence that financially successful countries are choosing FTTP? Therefore Australia should too? 😉

        1. No one said that choosing FTTP causes financial collapse. It’s just that funding such an insanely expensive approach with taxpayers’ money instead of letting the private sector build it (in many cases they’d choose ‘appropriate’ technologies instead of taking a draconian FTTP approach for all non rural areas) is much more likely to occur under a socialist government as it fits with the crazy, illogical, vote buying mantra of “This won’t cost you a cent because ‘the gubment’ is paying for it”.

          In terms of the USA and the financial disaster they are – they gave up conservative ideals like small government and less intervention, more than 2 decades ago and then recently gave billions to bail out wealthy wall street wankers… sorry bankers. That’s corporate socialism, it certainly isn’t capitalism where the private sector is meant to take on financial risk in return for possible reward.

          1. Insanely expensive? Thanks for proving private enterprise couldn’t build it nor did they outside the CBDs.

            In government terms the investment isn’t huge, about $2.7Bn compared to a total govt spend of about $400Bn a year.

            And it is an investment and it will repay for itself very handsomely indeed.

          2. That post just further illustrates your blind ideology. Believe it or not, the World does not exist in a vacuum.

            I find it highly annoying that big banks and companies get bailed out by taxpayers. It sounds great to just say “we should let them fail”, while forgetting the consequences of such an action. If those companies collapsed, what would be the cost to the Government and the society be in lost taxes, income, employment etc?

            Likewise, while it might sound like a great idea to leave everything to the private sector, such actions would be a disaster. back in the real World, people are aware that the private sector simply won’t do everything that a modern 1st-world society expects. Without Government intervention, living outside cities would be far more expensive, with far lower quality of life and far worse health outcomes. That would lead to even worse urban sprawl.

            Open your eyes Golfman, and you might find that there’s more to life than the almighty dollar. There are large numbers of Australians who don’t want to live in cities, and we are a much better country because of it.

            Oh, and as you well know, the Government do not say “This won’t cost you a cent because ‘the gubment’ is paying for it”. As you and everyone who knows anything about the project well knows, the NBN will be paid for by the users of the network. In exactly the same way as the original copper network….and The electricity network….The water and sewer networks….The natural gas network….Australia Post. There’s nothing novel about it, Governments around the World have been doing similar things for centuries.

          3. “It sounds great to just say “we should let them fail”, while forgetting the consequences of such an action. If those companies collapsed, what would be the cost to the Government and the society be in lost taxes, income, employment etc?”

            But once again – they’ve disobeyed the laws of capitalism – they’ve shifted risk from the private sector to the government – but the government technically doesn’t take on debt itself. All gubmint debt it assigned to current and future taxpayers by the simple signing of a loan document by a few [s]elected representatives.

            In effect the risk is still there – it has just been reassigned, which, given enough debt (like in the case of the Greece, Ireland, Itali, USA), further increases the risk that the gubmint itself will fail. Is that really a better option that letting one or two banks fail? Many rationalists believe that government ‘saving’ corporations via bailout is only deferring a much bigger disaster to the government and at a later date – hopefully when someone is in charge 😉

            Recently the USA had to increase its debt ceiling. Why? To borrow money so that it could pay for an overbloated government but more importantly, so that it could make repayments on its debts. Not being able to pay government employees is one thing but not being able to pay creditors is an entirely different matter – just ask Greece!

            Right now, in this moment in history, is a time when rational people/goverments start looking at ways of reducing government spending – not looking for avenues through which the government can direct ever more money.

          4. As much as I’m sure this debate could go on forever, I’m not going to bother getting into a circular argument on the politics of foreign countries, when it has zero to do with the NBN.

            I will repeat however: All of your arguments to date are based on blind political ideology rather than the realities surrounding the reasons behind the NBN.

            The simple facts of the matter are these:
            1. FTTN in Australia was proposed, investigated, and subsequently rejected by an expert panel for a variety of practical reasons.
            2. The NBN is underway. Live with it.
            3. A huge majority of the Australian public support the NBN.

          5. I’d like you to back up your statement that my ideas are based on blind political ideologies but you won’t because it’s more convenient for you to resort to such cheap insults than stick to the facts. Don’t worry, I get that a lot from people who are ‘blinded the *promise* of 97% of Australia connected by fiber’.

            [political ranting deleted by blog owner]

          6. I’m quite happy to continue a debate the NBN topic, but not on your ludicrous associations of the NBN to failed politics overseas.

            Speaking of facts, can you point me to where the Government has promised fibre to “97% of Australia”? Because I think you’ll find that the promise is 93%, as anyone familiar with the NBN project would be able to tell you. Maybe you’d like a link to the original announcement? Facts indeed.

            As for the rest: As usual, blind political ideology unrelated to the NBN, and therefore off-topic and edited out of your post.

          7. Sorry I got my 3 & 7’s mixed around: it’s 93% fiber 7% other. I actually quoted the correct 93% in an earlier post.

          8. I’m curious….Exactly how much time and money do you think would be saved if the Coalition revert to FTTN after their presumed election win in 2013?

            The ALP’s NBN plan is forecast to cost $36.9bn, including ~$2bn for satellites, ~$2bn for wireless 4%, and I’d think at least $8-10bn for the transit network, PoI, backend systems, design work etc etc. So that leaves the actual FTTP build at about $25bn.
            FTTN has been estimated at $15+bn in Australia, which ties with overseas estimates of it being about 50% of the price of FTTP.
            But, by 2013 there will be at least 25% of the FTTP either complete, underway or contracted, plus the entire wireless/sat setup contracted or underway. So of the original $37bn, the NBN will have already spent or contracted at least $15-20billion.

            Once you add ~$12bn to downgrade the remaining FTTP back to FTTN, that gets to a total of ~$32bn, since the wireless/sat/backend/transit/PoI systems would exist either way. So a “saving” of maybe $5bn, with ~75% of the country most probably requiring an FTTP upgrade sometime in the future, at a cost of at least $20bn. Worth it, do you think?

            It’s just taken 2.5 years to negotiate an agreement with Telstra. Since Turnbull has stated he’d have the PC look at it first before making a change, then the need to negotiate a new Telstra agreement (assuming they play ball), make the necessary legislation changes (assuming he can get them through the Senate), find new staff for NBN Co (I’d imagine that Quigley et al would quit), design a FTTN network, build it. My guesses would be:
            PC inquiry: 6 months
            New Telstra agreement and legislation: 2 years
            Design and build: 4-5 years
            By my reckoning, that takes us to at least mid-2019. Just 18 months before the NBN would have finished the entire country with fibre.

            So we might “save” $5bn and 18 months to deliver less than 1/10th of the NBN capability, and set ourselves up for an expensive future upgrade. And I haven’t even thought about the disruption to the RSP industry who are gearing all their systems up for an NBN world.

            Disagree with any of the above? Lets hear why, with workings please.

          9. “Once you add ~$12bn to downgrade the remaining FTTP back to FTTN”

            Can you explain this for me? If, according to your statement FTTN costs 50% of FTTP why would it cost ~$12bn to ‘downgrade’ FTTP back to FTTN?

            Are you talking about downgrading existing, installed, working FTTP down to FTTN or are you talking about the cost of redesign of yet to be rolled out FTTP? If you’re talking about ripping out existing FTTP I’d like you to produce some evidence of where anyone (other than spin masters) have said the FTTP would be ‘ripped out’. No one ever suggested that.

            That would be like throwing billions of existing infrastructure down the drain and the only people throwing billions of existing infrastructure down the drain (and paying billions of taxpayer dollars for the pleasure) is NBN Co itself – paying billions to trash the existing, working copper and cable infrastructure of Telstra and Optus.

          10. No, I don’t mean downgrading installed FTTP. Of course, that would remain. I mean that $12bn would be my estimate of the cost of running FTTN out to the remaining 75% of the fibre footprint after FTTP was cancelled. I’m basing that $12bn on the $15-20bn estimated cost of running out FTTN to ~90% of the Australian population.

            To get the total cost of the policy change from FTTP to FTTN, you must add that ~$12bn to whatever has already been spent or contracted for the NBN by end-2013, which in my estimate would be ~$20bn.

          11. In relation to cost estimate of doing FTTN now:

            Telstra’s original FTTN estimate was for around $4.7bn with a guaranteed minimum of 12mbps and rollout in 6-18 months. In other words connection started going live 6 months after the start button was pressed while it would take 18 months to completely connect everyone covered by the plan (4m homes I think).

            Obviously I’d like to see something offering a better guaranteed minimum (30-40mbps via VDSL2) with hybrid nodes allowing those who want/need 100Mbps to pay extra to run the fiber to their house (group discounts for neighbours who decide to connect as a collective). As in New Zealand etc., you’d lay at least a 120 core fiber bundle into each FTTN node because the differential cost of the fiber is insignificant compared to the cost of laying it. This brings huge savings on a later phase 2 FTTP rollout – you already have sufficient fiber extending out from the exchange to the nodes to easily extend it to a FTTP network.

            My desire for a 2 phase approach with FTTN being the phase 1 is not only cost based (and definitely not political or ideological) – it’s also the much speedier rollout to the majority of houses which really floats my boat. Under the NBN’s FTTP proposal you have to pity the poor person still connected to ADSL in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 (Remember: that person could be YOU!). They’ll really be in the internet back waters by then – whereas in my FTTN rollout plan they’ll all have at least 30mbps within 6 months to 30 months.

            And it has to be flexible: FTTx should be the approach – substitute X for whatever is most cost effective in a given location: CBDs and high density housing like in Asia x=P or B, most of suburbia x=N. regional urban areas x = N, Rural areas – stick with current NBN satellite/wireless plan if it makes sense to do so.

            Effectively a 2 phase approach is like upgrading from a 1970s Toyota Coralla to a 2012 Holden commodore (FTTN) soon – it’s still a huge improvement that will be massively appreciated even though it’s not quite the Ferrari (FTTP) that will come later down the track – once we’ve paid off the family Commodore. When we’re ready to go to phase 2 the Ferrari (FTTP) will be like Australia’s mid life crisis when we go through the divorce, throw caution to the wind, splash out on the plastic (hopefully GFC will be over by then) and pick up a nice new chicky babe along the way to sit in the passenger seat 😉

          12. If it was going to cost Telstra $4.7bn (7 years ago) to deliver 12Mbps to 4 million premises, then Citigroup’s $17bn estimate of FTTN for ~90% (say 9 million premises) is probably on the money. Not to mention that getting 30-40Mbps via VDSL would need more nodes than 12Mbps via ADSL2+.

            So, again, that puts (a 2013 change-of-government leading to) dumping FTTP for FTTN at a ballpark cost of $32bn. Do you really think that’s a better idea (and better value) than just continuing on for a $37bn FTTP network?

            Again, a bigger (~90%) and faster (ie more nodes) FTTN network would take much longer than Telstra’s 18 months. Even if we generously assume 3 years, that’;s still only a couple of years earlier than the NBN would be finished anyway, once you allow for all the agreements, planning etc.

          13. I think the coalition will be limited in their decisions by a spider’s web of contractual bindings and commitments that have already or will be established by that time.

            However, at any moment in time, in any situation, everyone has the option (even responsibility) to analyse the situation and make a decision based on all the variables at play. Any responsible government coming to power in 2013 should do whatever it takes to get value for money for the taxpayer while trying to deliver the most appropriate technology for the various scenarios.

            Who knows, if GFC2 hits and the world economy tanks into a world wide depression then a $5bn saving might not be so flippantly dismissed.

            That $5bn assumes a certain 25% completion and no cost blowouts – given the NBN’s current costing and scheduling compared with original estimates I think there’s already some acknowledgement of considerable cost and schedule slippage. Certainly the company rolling out the Tasmanian trial made a $2 million loss – so their own estimates were way out of the ball park.

            Given the BER – a project estimated to be less than 1/5th of the NBN’s cost blew out from $8bn to $16bn you’d want to be a high risk taker to put money on the NBN not blowing out. I would imagine building school halls are a lot less complex undertaking than building the world’s most expensive Government built FTTP network which includes re-engineering the newly acquired Telstra backbone.

            It must be said that most of the NBN’s backbone investment applies equally well to a FTTP rollout as a FTTN rollout – if anything the cost would be cheaper with FTTN because the overall backbone capacity would be nowhere near as high for an FTTN rollout – a lot of that work could be deferred until later at a significant cost/debt incurred saving.

  40. So I get it: I prove you wrong with facts related to the topic and point out your outrageous claims about redundancy in a fiber to the home network and you censor my post and claim it to be a political, ideological rant. Nice work.

    You’ve just eliminated the credibility of your website – but you’ll probably censor this comment also.

    1. Political ranting about the current Government is unrelated to the NBN, and certainly not “facts related to the topic”. As the edited portion of your last post contained zero facts, and was merely a political statement, it was removed. Stick to facts surrounding the NBN and you won’t have a problem. Go off-topic, and your posts will be deleted or redacted. Simple.

      1. Deepy has a peculiar notion of “Liberty” itmeans he can do whatever he wants, I kid you not. Loathed all over the internet.

        1. Who the hell is Deepy?

          1. Deepy is Political Animal’s pet shark. It sits in a tank in the middle of his evil lair and is fed orphans every day at 3 PM. Not your street orphans, mind. Freshly made orphans. From people he’s murdered. For the Blood God.

            True story.

  41. Why did we build the Sydney Habour Bridge? It took 70 freakin years of toll roads to pay it off.

    And so much for future-proofing it, the tolls are still there to pay for the Sydney Habour tunnel! These two projects should never have been built.

    If North Sydney is too expensive to connect to our road network, why does Southern Sydneysider’s have to pay for it? It is preposterous.

    (BTW, if the logical steps are ADSL2+ -> FTTN -> FTTP, why not go from ADSL2+ -> FTTP directly and skip the middle step, saving billions of dollars? )

    1. Most people know that the Harbour Bridge principle was paid off decades ago and it was interest on the loan that was being paid off decades after the principle was well and truly paid off.

      Comparisons of the NBN with the Sydney Harbour bridge are, in any case, mute: The Sydney Harbour bridge didn’t really have viable alternatives did it now? Car ferries? A tunnel in 1936? Just not possible or feasible. It’s just wasn’t that easy, in the 1930s, the build a bridge tall enough to allow massive ships to pass under it over one of the deepest harbours in the world.

      NBN is very different: There are an abundance of ways that NBN Co or indeed the private sector, given the right incentives could provide more than adequate speed for now with an easy upgrade path to the future.

      “BTW, if the logical steps are ADSL2+ -> FTTN -> FTTP, why not go from ADSL2+ -> FTTP directly and skip the middle step, saving billions of dollars?”

      You should ask the Germans, New Zealanders’ and UK people that question. The Germans are pretty smart people, if you’ve found some unbelievably amazing secret for them to *save* money by bypassing FTTN and going straight to ADSL->FTTP then they’d really appreciate a call from you so you can point out the error of their ways.

      Maybe they aren’t so smart afterall and they’ve got some glaringly obvious error in their calculations – or maybe they haven’t and you need to talk to someone who understands economics – which the Germans certainly do as they’re keeping the whole of the Eurozone together at the moment with their bail out packages.

      1. The comparison with the Sydney Harbor Bridge are very apt. The number of lanes, the number of train/tram tracks shows the designers were inspired people.

        FTTN then FTTH is crap. FTTN is in no way a step to FTTH and Telstra would be very reluctant to move from FTTN to FTTH: if it wasn’t so reluctant it would have built the NBN already.

        Nope the NBN is the way to go. Its cost, 0.1% of govt spend is eminently affordable. I just wish they would roll it out in 3 years not 10: we could use the stimulus effect of the rollout!

  42. I just cannot believe the disinformation on this website. Everything said here is either just plain wrong or contrary to common sense or begging the question. And yet, the answers are so comprehensive that the (no doubt quite expensive) team that is writing these answers must realize the truth.
    For instance,
    1. FALSE likening the $50billion to charging the opera house lighting bill in advance? Yes, but if the opera house was empty, no charge for lights But the charge from Telstra is there whether we use NBN or not.
    2 FALSE. If Viable then public sector would build it. Again relies on stated assumption that one company could not afford it. But multiple competing companies using competing technologies could.and have been doing it.
    and so on for the whole 10 “top myths” that were not debunked.

    1. Hi Chris,

      “Team of writers”. Team of one, you mean.

      1. Of course the payments to Telstra (most of them, anyway) will happen either way. They are (mostly) lease payments for access to infrastructure. If you are leasing a shop, you can’t tell the owner you’ll only pay if you have customers. That doesn’t change the fact that the payments are not a capital expense. That said…. The NBN is essentially guaranteed to have customers, since part of the payments to Telstra (and Optus) are to migrate their customers off the copper and on to the NBN, then to decommission the rotting copper network.

      Perhaps you’d prefer a different Opera House analogy though? Would you count 30 years of council rates as CapEx when assessing the cost of building the Opera House, or would you count that as OpEx?

      2. “…multiple competing companies using competing technologies could.and have been doing it.” Stop it, you’re making me laugh. Please, show us this team of companies. Show us these “competing technologies” that they have been building across the nation. Show us where either the Telstra or Optus HFC networks have been expanded over the last decade. Show us where true high speed broadband (eg DOCSIS3 HFC, bonded VDSL2-FTTN, FTTP) have been built anywhere in brownfield areas. For that matter, show us the percentage of Telstra exchanges that even have competitive ADSL2+ installed (hint: it’s less than 15%). The only company that has really tried to roll out a network to compete with Telstra is Optus. And it was a financial disaster for them, losing them $300m a year. That’s probably why no company has made the same mistake since:,optus-targets-nbn-wireless-fans-and-fibre-critics.aspx

      Feel free to debate any of the other points in the list, and please support your assertions with some references.

      1. 1. BS & BS & BS. The only reason Telstra sold was because they were told they would get no new wireless spectrum. Even with that threat they got big money, (mostly for access I believe)
        2 Competing technologies make you laugh? You make me laugh. Buy a ticket to the USA with your shill payment & find out why. Better do it fast though, because that sponsor isn’t likely to have any peanuts much longer.

        8. I can’t help commenting here on you 8th point on cost. Even without the indirect costs that we all KNOW we would be saddled with, like subsidising (was it @ 6% instead of 15%) for the loan of all that money to a “commercial” (haha) enterprise. Also the (undoubtedly subsidized) entry level of $34.50/mo (with guarantees not to rise faster than inflation no doubt haha) does not begin to compare with my current 210 GB limit at a speed of around 20,000kbs for $40/month (And a fixed IP thrown in).

        Team of one? Maybe. If true then you have to know better than this BS you are writing. How can you live with yourself?

        1. 1. Not sure what you’re calling BS. The threat to deny Telstra spectrum was indeed a “stick” to encourage them to play nice with the NBN. What’s your point? They showed for several years that they had no interest in improving their systems, or allowing anyone else to try to compete with them. The stick was required.

          2. I don’t think we’re living in the USA, Chris. Their situation is completely different, principally because their improved BB infrastructure is driven by payTV revenues. Since our payTV takeup here is absymal, that revenue stream doesn’t exist. As I wrote before, how about you show us where, in Australia, “multiple companies” have used “multiple technologies” to provide improved broadband services. Even our 2nd biggest carrier -Optus- have not expanded their network for a decade. If so many areas of Metro Australia can;t get fast broadband, what hope is there for people living outside the cities? I’m an hour from Sydney and can’t even get competitive ADSL2+, let alone something with modern speeds.

          Oh, and you might be interested to know that President Obama has just announced the US Ignite program, to encourage the rollout of 1Gbps FTTP networks (just like our NBN) across the USA.

          3. What indirect costs? What subsidies? The NBN does not have any subsidies. NBN Co charge wholesale prices which are sufficient to return the cost of building the network. You’re right that NBN wholesale pricing will be bound by an SAU with the ACCC for their pricing. It states that prices cannot rise at all for 5 years, and then cannot be increased by any more than 0.5% of CPI for 25 years. (ie a real price fall of ~3%pa for 5yrs, then 1.5%pa for 25 years). On top of that restriction, prices must be lowered if NBN Co exceeds a return of bondrate+3%.

          I’m skeptical that you achieve 20Mbps, but even if you do, so what? What about the rest of Australia putting up with an average download speed of just 8Mbps? What about remote users paying $150/month for tiny quotas on 1Mbps satellite? What about upload speeds, which are atrocious even on cable? What of areas outside CBDs that cannot access either decent speeds or decent pricing, because no company is willing to extend networks or make better ones outside metro areas.

          As for pricing, I suspect you’re not telling the whole story there Chris. According to your IP, you’re with Exetel. According to their website, their ADSL2+ network (which covers just 300 of Telstra’s 5000 exchanges), they charge $44.50 for 150GB. On the NBN they charge $50 for 100GB, but at the speed of 25/5. Phone calls on their NBN phone are less than half the price you pay now.

          How do I live with myself? Easy. How do you live with yourself, Chris, with your “I’m alright Jack” attitude, and complete lack of vision for future needs, rather than the needs of yesteryear?

          1. “Stick was required”. Sounds like standard labour party policy.

            When Rudd proposed NBN it immediately killed anybody’s plan to improve the network (like FTTN)

            You certainly changed your nbnmythbuster point 8 very quickly after my post. And despite your BS, current exetel prices are lower than NBN offers cited. “we are not entitled to our own facts”
            and by misleading info that is what you sought to do.

            My exetel fees are as I stated. I do not appreciate being called a liar.

            Is this what you were talking about? “Obama’s ‘US-Ignite’ Broadband Plan Ignites Nothing” (PC, june 14 2012)

            As for location price differentials. If somebody lives in a remote location, some things are cheaper, and other things more expensive. I do not think it is fair that city users should subsidize connections to remote locations. If I lived in (for instance) the blue mountains, I am certain that the lower real estate prices etc would more than compensate for the increased cost of broadband.

          2. FTTN was dead long before the NBN announcement. I suggest you look up the history of Telstra’s ongoing battles with the ACCC and the Howard Government re FTTN. As the owner of the copper, Telstra were the only company in a position to implement FTTN, and their conditions for doing so were ridiculous, hence the rejection of their plan by the ACCC.

            On the topic of FTTN, it is an obsolete technology and many countries that rolled it out are now abandoning it in favour of FTTP (such as Germany, UK, Singapore, NZ and numerous others). The former Chief Technology Officer of British Telecom (which rolled out FTTN years ago), now describes it as a “huge mistake“, advocating FTTP.

            I have not changed the content of point 8 since August 2011, after Exetel released their NBN pricing.

            The cost given in your comment does not match the pricing in the link you provided.

            Yes, that’s the one. The point being that it’s one more country added to those planning on FTTP networks. Yes, in the US case they are encouraging the private sector (eg Google) and Government partnerships (eg: Chatanooga) to do it. Which, for previously stated reasons, would not work here. History has clearly demonstrated this…..BTW, I’m still waiting for your answer as to why no private company has rolled out modern broadband infrastructure in Australia for a decade? Even (for the sake of argument) if you accept that the 2007 NBN announcement put a stop to potential improvements, what happened for the ~8 years before that? Telstra and Optus stopped their HFC rollout in the late 90s with just 15-20% of the population covered, and neither have extended them since. That being the case, why would you expect them to recommence work now, even in the absence of an NBN policy? The only broadband “infrastructure” that the private sector have delivered is ULL ADSL2+ to 10% of Telstra exchanges. Hardly a large investment, and does nothing to improve broadband speeds. All it does it lower prices for people who live in those areas.

            So HFC was long at a standstill. No-one was rolling out FTTP outside new estates. No-one can do FTTN without Telstra playing ball (which they refused to do). So, please enlighten us as to who would be dragging Australia up from the bottom of the OECD’s broadband list, and how they would do so without Government intervention?

            So do you oppose all cross-subsidy models? For example, I’m sure it’s cheaper to deliver electricity in Lithgow right next door to the power station than in (for instance) Paddington. Likewise, it’s far cheaper to deliver water to Warragamba. Would you support the idea of your power and water bills rising, so those in Lithgow and Warragamba can pay less? You could make the same argument for pretty much any utility, because they all operate on a cross-subsidy model and always have.

          3. This is the best explanation I have seen as to why FTTN makes no technical sense

  43. Good info in the original post and I do agree with a lot of it, as I love my internet.

    BUT – if you want no internet, and a landline only with more than 2 phone points in the house – i.e. for many many elderly people exactly what they currently have – you are being forced onto a new system that you WILL have to pay more for.

    Rewiring their phone points (these are NOT people who use wireless routers now, and if they did want to there’s a purchase cost).

    Plus if you use back-to-base alarms or medical emergency alarms there are NO providers who guarantee the existing ones will work, so many of these people will also have to find and buy new ones.

    And these people need guaranteed working phones, so the power goes off for more than the few hours the NBN provided equipment will have battery backup for, so they have to pay for additional battery backup systems too.

    All to guarantee what they already have and which many have had to save hard to get.

    So what should be a great techno advance, is going to stuff it up for many of the most vulnerable people in our community who are the least able to deal with the change and the cost.

    1. Shani,

      If that is the case for doing nothing, it is a poor one. You keep using the word “current”. The NBN needs to be viewed through the prism of when it is finished. Not now. By then current baby boomers, already dependent on the internet will be the “elderly people” whose brief you have volunteered to hold. The “elderly people” I know already rely on cordless phones because it is safer for them to have a phone nearby so that they are less likely to fall when answering the phone in the hall. Some current elderly even have mobiles!

      If you only have a cordless phone, you don’t need a wireless router. Be assured the future elderly will want and have more. In any event their existing phone will be connected to the NBN device in the home as part of the installation so the extra costs you envisage will not be an issue.

  44. Great Article. Honestly I have NBN at my home for Internet and Phone, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever had in terms of internet. It’s costing me about the same as my previous ADSL2+ & Phone connection. Tony Abbot / liberal party member just want to take australia backwards. Great work author.

    1. It’s just lucky you’re one of the few thousand who have received the fruits of a probably $90bn program that, in a best case scenario (no rollout blowouts) some people are not reached until 2021! The hypocritical nature of this bizarre project is constantly raving about how important it is to have 100Mhz while the project leaves some people on crappy 1-4Mbps ADSL or dialup until 2021! The project’s mantra is an exercise in self contradiction. Only a baffoon could think it’s the “best approach”.
      What’s crazy when I hear about your 100Mhz is that people in my street still don’t have ADSL because they are too far from the exchange. In what egalitarian society does the government roll out free 100Mhz connections to people already on ADSL whilst fellow countrymen are still stuck on dialup? The whole “FTTH or bust” project strategy is just plain unfair and stupid.
      A cheaper plan that rolls out high speed to everyone by 2016 makes a lot more sense but logic and sense don’t seem to apply to most people in this argument.
      Quite obviously FTTN: rolling fibre out to the nodes and picking up existing copper to give people *min* 25Mbps in just a few years is going to deliver great results with much less cost, blowouts and interest on the money we borrow from China to build the thing than rolling out FTTH: fiber to EVERY SINGLE HOME that would be serviced by an FTTN if that plan were chosen.
      You don’t need to be a genius to work out the difference in rollout time and labour costs to work out why the coalition’s plan can deliver us ALL high speed broadband in just a couple of years and at much reduced cost.
      And – just like in Germany, NZ, UK and parts of USA, the cost of the fiber itself is so cheap that each node will have hundreds of fibers rolled out to it. i.e. massive spare capacity for tiny incremental cost so that a phase 2 extension of fiber to the homes can take place at a later time either by gov if we end up in a good financial position again OR by user pays. i.e. if YOU need 100Mhz YOU pay for it – that’s when you’ll find out that most of the people who say they NEED 100Mhz don’t really need it. If you happen to own a medical centre and swipe a couple of million from Medicare cards each year then I think it’s only right that you pay for your 100Mhz fiber extension from the node to your business. Does that sound unfair?

      1. $90Bn? That is twice the official number confirmed time and again. Just because Malcolm needed to say #fraudband was 1/3 the cost of the real NBN and so wildly inflated the NBN cost does not mean that figure can be accepted and used to argue against the NBN.

        Abbott said 10-20,000 nodes, Turncoat said 60,000. Neither number is adequate, 80,000+ is more like it.

        Then let us look at costs not mentioned at the #Fraudband launch:

        1. Cost of maintaining the copper—$750K per year

        2. Cost of powering the power hungry cabinets/nodes, so power hungry each cabinet/node needs airconditioning

        3. Cost of vandalism of the cabinets

        4. The biggy: getting hold of the copper. The present $11Bn payment to Telstra is for leasing the ducts and pits. How much will they charge for the copper? An arm and two legs most likely—the directors of Telstra have to act in their shareholders’ best interests!

        Within 10 years the real NBN will have cost less as well as delivering infinitely more than #Fraudband.

        The real cost of #Frauband? No NBN at all! #Fraudband is a semi–plausible policy to take to the election, unlike in 2010. The Libs are signalling that they will impose austerity on the economy, which, as always, will tip it into recession. There will be no $30Bn spend on communications, not that any Lib really realises its importance anyway—the internet is just email, facebook and porn, right?

        1. “2. Cost of powering the power hungry cabinets/nodes, so power hungry each cabinet/node needs airconditioning”

          I have a feeling you knew that was complete BS when you wrote that. FTTN cabinets are air cooled: convection or fan forced (not air conditioned cooled) and they run low power commodity priced DSLAMs. They even have small pole mounted varieties for areas with aerial cabling.

      2. Ahh Golfman, good to have you back here sprouting the same old dribble, and repeating without question the exaggerations of Turnbull et al.

        You well know the reasons for the NBN rollout order, being that it is obviously most efficient (and cheapest) to roll out from the 121 POI, which is exactly how they are doing it. It would be lovely if they could do 10 houses here and 20 there, but it would add huge amounts to the rollout cost for work crews to constantly jump between tiny areas rather than doing an entire module of 3,000 premises at a time. Not a difficult concept to grasp.

        There is not a snowball’s chance in hell that the Coalition can deliver min 25Mbps to 90% of premises by 2016. Think about it. In under three years, they would have to:
        • Complete the three studies they have promised (including a CBA), then analyse the results and then come up with a plan;
        • Re-negotiate the Telstra contract, which took two years to agree upon in the first place;
        • Have Telstra remediate all of their pit&pipe within 3 years (remember, this is already delaying NBN Co);
        • Replace substantial numbers of people at NBN Co, change their agreements with ISPs and change their OSS/BSS systems;
        • Design a network with nodes close enough to deliver 25Mbps to everyone (would require accurate maps of current network, which often don’t exist);
        • Tender and let equipment, cable, cabinet etc contracts;
        • Negotiate with power utilities and councils to install the nodes;
        • Tender and let network construction contracts (and possibly vary or cancel existing contracts); and
        • …finally, construct 60,000-odd FTTN node cabinets, power them, run fibre to them, and deploy VDSL2 equipment into them and make about 10 million fibre-copper connections, replacing substantial portions of dead copper along the way.

        Let’s be generous, and say it only takes them a year before they can actually start any construction. That means constructing/powering/fibering 120 FTTN cabinets and making 20,000 copper-FTTN connections every single working day for two years. And, to meet the priority objective, they’ll be building the nodes all over the place, not all in the same area.

        Tell ‘im he’s dreaming, son.

  45. Ten years isn’t that long. What a pity the Howard/Costello government invested in no infrastructure bar the stupid Alice Springs/Darwin railway. . .

    The $350Bn of boom revenue the H&C govt received could have had the NBN built already! That is where the real failure is: get a surplus spend it immediately on tax cuts and spending feeding a credit fuelled boom. Came the GFC—nothing at all left of all that boom revenue.

    The present government is running out the biggest modernisation of communications ever, bigger than the original copper CAN! It will be wholesale only so tons of competition on the retail side. One of its main benefits—that some rural MPs in Libs and Nats recognise and call for the fibre area to be extended—is to end the city–rural divide and give rural people fast, affordable broadband. We allow others to cherry pick we get duplication of fibre runs—that worked out well for Optus, eh?—and with the richest suburban areas cherry picked forget being able to provide fast broadband to rural areas at the same price as metro.

    It is a great pity that Lib fanbois can’t put politics aside and get behind the NBN. Menzies continued building the Snowy Mountain Scheme, the knuckledragging simian wants to destroy the NBN. How the Liberal Party has fallen since the days of Menzies!

    1. Many people, like myself, were pushing FTTN/C/B waaaay before the coalition plan made it clear it was the most sensible approach. I think if they brought the plan that they have now to the last election and explained it clearly they would have won the election and we’d all have FTTN/C/B with at minimum of 25Mbps by now and many would have much, much higher. (VDSL2 can hit 100Mbps if two pairs available for <1km and if 1 pair available expect about 40-50Mbps!)
      The coalition's shadow communications minister at the last election really dropped the ball. I think if Turnbull had been shadow communications minister back then not only broadband in Australia would have been better but we would have had 3 years of a government governing for Australia instead of obsessing about preservation of their own political life.

      1. If the Libs had won in 2010 I reckon we would be deep in recession by now—their idiotic push for surpluses. They certainly would not have spent a cent on broadband. Nor will this mob do so if they win on 14/9.

        Just look at their cobbled together faux–policy: they will run out fibre to greenfields and think that will amount to 22% of premises. Sure, 78% who have crappy slow internet that fails after rain are not going to be green with jealousy at the lucky people on FTTH? No thought has gone into this non–policy because all it had to do was get the Libs over the line 14/9. Because it was so badly designed, because it was launched at Fox studios it will make their election a bit less likely.

        1. BTW I have a facebook page to spread the good news of the NBN:

          Have linked to here on that page.

        2. One of the laughable failures of the current NBN has been that some greenfields did not receive FTTP roll outs! Under what idiotic program is that allowed to occur? If the trenches are already open then for god’s sake throw fiber in there! Stupidity where ever you look.

          1. Contractors for the greenfields part of the rollout have been appointed, so the greenfields rollout is proceeding.

            Have a read:


  46. IT Undergraduate 14 April, 2013 — 1:18 pm

    To all the Capitalists bagging FTTP, just admit that you don’t know what you’re talking about and that Capitalism is finished. Stay mad, libs.

    1. Fiber to Node and Fiber to Premises were both borne of capitalism. In fact so was the phone system. When the capitalists invented the internet the socialists were probably talking about how to hide information rather than make it open to everyone. Socialism and communism depend on keeping information under tight control so you ain’t going to get much of an internet under those ideologies.

      The early Russian space program used computers built using microprocessors that were ripped out of Atari game consoles because government controlled technology departments couldn’t develop the technology to build their own processors and those capitalist pigs wouldn’t sell them theirs directly (for obvious reasons)

      IT Undergraduate probably typed his comment using an iPad or iPhone or PC that was designed by capitalist pigs and built by a communist country who has now embraced capitalism more than *any* country in the free world ever has.

      Yeah, you keep telling people how capitalism is so dead. I hope you spend your university break in that wonderful nirvana where evil capitalism has been kept at bay for 60 years: North Korea.

  47. Thanks for a comprehensive article. Technical considerations not politics must be the way any decisions about Australia’s communication needs are provided for. I agree FTTP is the only way to ensure future proofing. Do it all now not partially then down the track maybe complete it
    Coming from an external telecommunications design background I’ve seen the problems that occur by doing things on the so called cheap. Many times an area would have to be redesigned and new infrastructure installed because of shortsighted decisions. The extra cost involved just to go back over the same area is just duplication that could have been avoided. Seems to me that the FTTN is going to be the start of a shortsighted decision requiring duplication of cost and a hodgepodge of a network in the long run.

  48. In 2007 I was very excited about the possibilities of the NBN. Then I watched the government turn a fundamentally simple and elegant idea into a political weapon. The issue with the NBN basically come down to the government failing to do what it is designed to do i.e. create policy. Instead the government tried to create a business from scratch to undertake the largest infrastructure project in the country. This could never work. A mining company does not build a mine or rail line or process plant it sometimes does not even operate the mine. It appoints specialized companies to do the work. and offsets the risk of the project to these companies.

    Instead we have NBNco which doesn’t know if it is an ISP a construction company or a government department and fails as all three.

    1. Your arguments don’t really hold water Rob.

      NBN Co do not build the NBN any more than a mining company builds a mine. NBN Co subcontracted the construction of the NBN to assorted construction companies, specialising in that work. Companies such as Silcar, Visionstream and EDI-Downer. They contracted Ericsson to design and build the LTE wireless component, and they contracted Space Systems Loral to build the satellites and Optus to manage them.

      NBN Co are not an ISP, and the NBN legislation clearly prohibits them from being one. They are purely a wholesaler and network operator. They are not a Government department. They are legislated as a Government Business Enterprise (same as Australia Post).

      1. Semantics on the word ‘build’. It doesn’t matter who builds it, it’s who pays for it! If gov (us) are paying for it then it matters not who builds it.
        NoNbnStill is right – gov should be setting policy and not building things. We all know how well that goes in a non competitive market.
        Where’s my fiber? – No where close and would never be under the previous gov who WERE building it… sloooowwwwly – Ok, Kevin Rudd didn’t dig the trenches but he used our taxes to pay others to build it. Technically all those other companies ‘built’ what little they did of it for the outrageous prices we paid them.
        At least now I get fiber closer, sooner with FTTN instead of hearing the mindless, delusion mutterings of the ‘FTTH will be built sometime soon crowd’.
        Please get on with it Malcolm – I know the previous buggers probably deliberately made the FTTH contracts so incredibly costly to ‘undo’ but an intelligent guy like you should be able to coerce those companies to do the right thing by Australia and soon!

        1. Hmmm.

          1. With regards to the implementation, the Coalition’s policy is exactly the same as Labor’s – NBN Co will contract construction companies to build a network, which NBN Co will wholesale.

          2. Turnbull has always said the existing FTTP contracts would be completed. He promised not to “undo them”, so whether they are easy to undo or not is totally irrelevant, unless you want him to break his pre-election promise.

          3. Turnbull’s pre-election promise to deliver 25Mbps to 100% of premises by end2016 lasted all of 2 months. Contrary to the claims of Turnbull and yourself, such a promise had absolutely no chance of being delivered, and so it is with the promised coverage plummeting by 57% and promised cost increasing by 25% before anything has even begun! …. Before they even have maps or condition reports of the decrepit copper network. Hate to say “I told you so”, but….

        2. If a government hadn’t built the Sydney Harbour Bridge, or the railways between the capital cities or even the telephone network, who would have done it?

          1. Given that there’s not too many access points on Sydney Harbour for alternative harbour crossings the Sydney Harbour Bridge is obviously not something that could work with competing providers 😉

          2. Really? There are several possible crossing sites, plus options for a tunnel and ferries.

          3. “Several possible crossing site” – geographically yes but you require government intervention to acquire peoples’ properties to build on those prime real estate access points. Only government can do that unless you’re talking about the previous NSW labor gov who thought it would be a great idea to allow private companies to instigate forced acquisition if their projects – geez, what could possibly go wrong with that idea?

          4. 1. Much of it wasn’t prime real estate 100 years ago, when the bridge was built.
            2. You ignored the ferry option (which was already operating before the bridge).

            Logistics aside though, having competing harbour crossings makes no more sense that having competing wired infrastructure for communications. It’s a waste of time, money and finite resources… The bridge a bad analogy anyway though. A closer one would be other utility networks. How about we also build competing water, sewer, electricity and gas networks?

          5. It could still have been a privately funded project (like BrisConnect) with the private sector taking the risks people would actually move to the North Shore while they continued to work on the south shore. But would any private sector company have been prepared to take all those risks? We have seen what happens when the private sector projects fall over. Government finishes up picking up the tab.

  49. Given that we are not going to get FTTP on a broad scale …whats the view of the Hybrid solution? Most people we talk to dont really care …they just want faster than they have now on Telstra ADSL.

    1. The hybrid solution was truly the only ever financially and time scale viable option – I say “bring it on”. Park a FTTN node outside my place – you’ll have no complaints from me!

      1. Time scale viable? You mean the Coalition’s promised timescale that had 100% of the nation done by the end of 2016? Or the reality that might be done by 2021? It’s almost 18 months into their term of Government, and FTTN still hasn’t progressed beyond a trial. What a debacle.
        Financially viable? You mean 3/4 of the cost of FTTP for 1/10th (at best) of the possible speed? Even according to the Coalition’s own biased report? That makes sense.

        People who get an FTTN node out the front of their house will certainly get nice speeds in exchange for the ugly fridge dumped on their footpath. And for those people who get to keep their visual amenity and miss out on the cabinet, sorry about the 3rd-world broadband speeds.

        1. Who are you kidding? Some people in my street are still on dial up! How’s that for 3rd world broadband speed and yet the previous government had 5 years to do something about that. What did they do? Install 100Mbps FTTP links in some suburbs that already had good ADSL2+ speeds while ignoring suburbs with third world speeds. Unaustralian or just plain stupid?
          Under the previous “FTTP or die” plan, depending on the role out people could have been stuck on 3rd world dial up or slow ADSL until 2021. That could have been you!
          At least with the hybrid solution which roles out much quicker than FTTP ever could (<1% of popn in 5 years!) people who really need 100Mbps can pay for it at their own expense – not at the expense of people are stuck on dial up!

          1. Yes, they had 5 years. And in that time, starting from scratch, they tried to do FTTN, failed due to Telstra, took advice from an expert panel, decided to go with the World’s best technology as a result, started up a company from scratch, fixed Telstra, made a deal with them from scratch to access infrastructure and guarantee customers, contracted a wireless network for rural areas including getting spectrum, bought 2 satellites/scheduled their launch/built ground stations, set up a regulatory and pricing framework from scratch, negotiated and built a nationwide POI backbone and and began rolling out the network.

            In their 18 months, the Coalition have:
            Canned the FTTP (even though their own stacked report found it could be done for barely more than obsolete FTTN);
            Promised to complete the build by 2016;
            Broken that promise (It’s now set for 2021);
            Promised it would cost $30bn;
            Broken that promise (It’s now $41bn+);
            Promised to target blackspots first;
            Broken that promise (Rollout is still based on POI locations, with additional priority given to numerous best-served areas in order to overbuild TPG).

            The NBN company was already operating, contractors were already working, the regulatory basis was complete, access to infrastructure was sorted, 2 of 3 network types were sorted, and they’ve still done almost nothing! If Labor had done the above, you’d be screaming incompetence from the rooftops.

            You complained that I could have been stuck on dial-up or slow ADSL until 2021. Well, under the Coalition’s rollout I probably will. My area was due to begin FTTP rollout last June. But that was cancelled early last year, and there is now no date for the FTTN commencement in my area. Yet the exchange ports are full, the phone dies in wet weather, there’s no DSL competition at my exchange, 3G/4G service is poor. According to you, I should be in a priority area.

            Your “<1% of the population in 5 years" claim is disingenuous (and you know it), given that the volume FTTP rollout didn’t actually commence until 2011. On that basis, I could just as easily claim that the Coalition have completed less that 0.0001% of the population with FTTN in 18 months. Makes the FTTP rollout rate look lightning fast by comparison, wouldn’t you say?

    2. Political Animal 15 May, 2015 — 7:23 am

      Not sure FTTH won’t happen. Labor is committed to it, but also the arrival of Netflix has exploded the ridiculous assumptions of Malcolm’s cherished CBA:

  50. I have been tracking NBN for a while and have to disagree with your point 5. The speeds seen in other countries are viable due to their size. Australia is massive and not densely packed. We have much greater financial weight to consider.
    We are simply not the size of France, Japan, or Singapore.

    1. Our urban/suburban areas are quite densely packed, and it’s completely viable to install FTTP in those locations, which is all that was originally proposed. Even excluding the massive deficiency in capability, a recent analysis found that the small amount of money saved by doing FTTN will be overtaken in 6-10 years by its additional operating cost over FTTP. Leaving us with a greatly inferior network but no better off financially.

  51. Speed and politics aside, theres also the aspect of reduced competition that resulted from the NBN and ACC bowing to the big telcos before the roll out even started.

  52. What a bullshit article that has not stood the test of time or facts.

    1. No? Remember the main page was about the original Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) NBN. That part of the network continues to work perfectly.

      The Coalition decided to downgrade the rest of the build to FTTN, which has become an unmitigated disaster as everyone (including me) said it would be. Never-ending problems, below par speeds, dropout. An absolute pig.

      Wireless is still too expensive, and data volume over the fixed network continues to far outpace the near-flat growth of cellular data.

      So perhaps you’d like to elaborate what parts of the above you consider bullshit?

      1. Oh wow “[FTTP] continues to work perfectly” – really? Where are you deriving that stat from?
        Anyway it is an awesome technology (if you ignore the expense) but unfortunately it’s delivery and cost meant that less than 1% of the population had it after 6 years of the labor gov designing it and building it (well a very little bit of it).
        Nah, bang for buck FTTC/B/Dp and reuse of existing Coax where appropriate seems to make much more economic sense. Heck even TPG are doing FTTB – yet your article claims no private firms would rollout high speed broadband.
        Your article mentions how Google is “rolling out FTTP” but fails to mention that even mighty Google with seemingly infinite financial resources abandoned most of their FTTP rollouts.

        1. FTTC is a good compromise. But it took 3 years of FTTN disaster for them to finally admit FTTN is a pig and move on.

          The coax is shot. They have abandoned the Optus coax because it’s another disaster, leaving Telstra’s. Time will tell how that goes.

          Google are still rolling out fibre albeit at a slower pace. The different over there is that it’s competing with widespread, entrenched, well maintained and regularly upgraded HFC. That’s not the case here.

          Nice fallacy re TPG. As you well know, they are only doing FTTB in very dense metro areas where their network exists. Great for people in large apartment blocks in the city. Utterly worthless for everybody else. i.e. 95% of the population. Which is exactly what the article says, and exactly what one of the major reasons for the NBN was. Private companies will not build it except in dense urban areas. Telstra and Optus did it in the 90s, and TPG are doing it now. The NBN does it for everyone.

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