NBN Co: How We Chose Our Sites, And Why Turnbull's Attacks Are Decidedly 'Odd'

At a media briefing in Sydney today, NBN Co executives outlined in more detail how it picked the sites in the new 3 year plan, as well as why Malcolm Turnbull's attacks on NBN Co's plans are "odd".

A lot of Gizmodo readers were keen to find out if they were on the three-year rollout plan announced last Thursday, but for every reader that was elated to discover they were, there were three that were cranky they weren't. That makes mathematical sense; the three-year plan covers around a quarter of the premises in Australia.

At NBN Co's headquarters in Sydney today, NBN Co chief operating officer Ralph Steffens laid out in a little more detail how NBN Co chose the sites it did.

"It's a straightforward exercise, but then an incredibly complex one to pull off. Once you have announced your first sites you need to build from there. You cannot build a patchwork across the nation, because that would be the most inefficient way to build the network."

NBN Co was working within set parameters that the plan needed to adhere to — more or less:

"We had parameters handed to us; one was having an equal split the states, also an even split between metro and rural areas; on top of that there have been announcements to complete Tasmania within five years, over and above that, in order to to roll out the access network we we had to make sure we are rolling out the access network where you also have a transit network. Building islands is not very good if you can't connect it to everything. Then smaller (considerations); working with four universities across the nation; connecting their campuses was also part of the consideration as well.

"The most important element you need to look after is to build a plan which is executable from an efficiency and effectiveness perspective. The worst thing you can do by rolling out infrastructure projects is starting and stopping; you need continuation; that's incredibly important. If we start somewhere in the region, we keep going until we're finished. It's just common sense; once you start you're going to finish. That's pretty much how we determined the rollout. You've got to start somewhere and you've got to finish somewhere. Somebody has to be the first and somebody has to be the last."

While the parameters were there, they're not an absolute be-all and end-all.

"Some of the parameters we put in are marginally off; like equal share between the states — the reason for that is simply to ensure that where we start, we keep going until we finish. So for the Northern Territory, for example, which is huge in size but smaller in population, we're finishing faster than ten years — but that's just common sense.

It's a mathematical model you build up; there's only so much you can do in the same time."

The coalition's attacks on the NBN seem to have shifted from taking on the cost of the NBN to whether or not it's feasible; Malcolm Turnbull wrote a lengthy press release — which we published on Friday — decrying the ability of NBN Co to actually deliver its rollout to schedule based on its previous rollout statistics. According to Kieren Cooney, NBN Co chief communications officer, this comparison is ... odd.

"The fundamental comparison is odd. One is a trial set of sites that were not to move at scale; with temporary arrangements. One is a full commercial rollout. To extrapolate the trail into the full-scale rollout misses what the trial was about."

According to Steffens, the trial has given NBN Co the information it needs.

"We now have our construction supply chain worked out; certainly executable, very executable; the other thing is we have the Telstra contract; that allows us to roll out to scale; the deal is place, the contracts are in place and we are ready to roll."

Over at Lifehacker, Gus has covered off on the fact that we've only seen around a quarter of the signed up retailers offering plans, and also of the NBN's future, quoting Steffens as stating that

"The world doesn’t stop at 100MB just because that’s our current product offering. We are thinking about [1G and beyond], we are looking proactively at it."


Comments

    Shock horror, there was logic behind their plan... Who would have guessed?

      Well it's Labor so I doubt any logic was or ever will be used besides vote grabbing.

        NBN is a separate company, not run by Labor. And no there's no monster under your bed

          I call shenanigans on the monster not being under the bed

            All this money being spent and no monster? Talk about bait-and-switch.

            Some people will have you belive it is in your celing, for me that is just the cat.

      i hate the coalition

        Good. They'll be your overlords for the next 10 years because your stupid party could run a shit farm. Blame labor when the coalition become the next government. That'll teach you to be such a blind voter.

          So your somewhat circular argument is that he could have avoided an Abbot govt if only he'd voted for the coalition sooner?

            Yeah, that's pretty much how it read to me too. Mind you, neither statement belongs in this forum.

    All infrastructure is good. Cables now, maybe roads or rail next?

      Lot's of things are "good", but massive amounts of debt isn't one of them.

        Lots of things are "good", but misrepresenting facts isn't one of them

          Clee's comment is "good", that is all.

        Perhaps you should do us all a favour, and go and find out how this project is being funded. Ignorance is not an excuse for making ridiculous claims about debt.

          Its being funded by a fund that the Howard government set up when they managed to get the budget into surplus. The fund was for a "rainy day" such as huge natural disasters or massive debt that may arise from something like a market crash and other things that put the countries finances in a pickle. Good thing none of those things happened.............oh wait.

        Any other tired Coalition talking points you want to regurgitate?

    I know this is a naive question but is the NBN actually going to be any faster than what BigPond is offering at the moment 100Mbps/2Mbps

      The upstream speed of an NBN 100mbps port is 40mbps, so 20x faster than what Bigpond cable offers - which is important for a lot of people, particularly businesses. Also, cable is a shared service, meaning the more people in the area using cable, the worse the performance of the network will be - so few people on cable reach anything close to the 100mbps port speed. Fibre is not a shared service, therefore the performance of the network is much more reliable (and closer to the advertised speed) and not dependent on whoever else is using the network in your area. More importantly, fibre is much more expandable and 'future-proof'; 100mbps is the maximum port speed on offer today, but in the not-so-distant future speeds of 1gbps and beyond will be achievable through methods such as updating transmission equipment and using additional light spectrums; there should be no need to replace or alter the cabling, which obviously makes up the vast majority of the network, which in turn means upgrades of this nature are much more practical and affordable when compared to today's copper and/or cable networks.

        Good points, though I'd add that the NBN's GPON fibre network actually is shared, but since it has much higher capacity than cable, you're very unlikely to ever notice a slowdown. Also, NBNCo announced right back at the beginning that 1Gbps would be an option, and businesses can also request a direct fibre link for even greater speeds.

        Finally, one of the biggest advantages is that BigPond's 100Mbps cable is only available in selected areas of some capitals, whereas NBN's fibre will be available to 93% of the whole population.

    Its disappointing that there seems to have been no consideration of the current availablity of broadband infrastructure. I would have thought some priority should have been given to areas with limited infrastructure however from the rollout map and the statement above it appears not.
    It's disappointing that areas with Telstra 100MB cable are being done ahead of areas on RIMs and with only Telstra wholesale infrastructure :(

      here here Stirlo!

      +1!

      That's why Tasmania got it first; their internet was arguably the worst in the country.

      That said, obviously other factors come into play too, particularly the cost-efficiency of doing the rollout.

    Turnbull doesn't really belive in what he's saying. He's probably not even thinking about NBN, too busy plotting his return to leadership.

    Corey, lay out your plan for Australia's High Tech future below, we would all love to hear it.

    I have an incling by the time the NBN infrastructure is in place, comperable speeds will be available via wireless technology.

      Wait you are on a tech site, and you are ignorant on how technology works?

      we don’t even know the limits of fibre optics yet, it’s much easier to upgrade the network once the fibre is laid.

      Wireless towers have too many disadvantages, cost, penetration, and the fact you STILL need some sort of wired connection somewhere, it’s also less reliable and more expensive to upgrade and maintain in the long run…but I guess you only care about the short term and don’t care about how the technology can help not only the current generation but generations to come.

      By the time wireless speeds hit 1gbit (which is what the NBN will be capable of to a house, but most likely not going to be sold at those speeds, as we’ll be limited by other factors as well) I can’t even imagine how fast fibre optics to the home will be.

        Firstly, it's 'inkling' not 'incling'.
        Second, do a little objective research and you'll soon realise the ignorance of your statement.

          He's perfectly correct. Wireless will always be constrained by the need to share the spectrum - if/when you eventually get 1Gbps wireless, it's still shared amongst all the users of that cell tower. This is OK if it only needs to serve a couple dozen mobile users, but completely inadequate to serve a thousand-odd entire families as well.

          But a single fibre right now can deliver much more capacity than a whole cell tower will ever manage. That same fibre has been demonstrated to carry thousands of Gpbs - and we're laying thousands of fibres in every tower footprint. Fibre has decades of capacity headroom, but wireless networks is already struggling (witness the capacity problems most networks are having, here and in America).

          If you have reputable research that claims otherwise, then by all means feel free to link to it, if you can.

        I forgot to add, even with telstra's HSPA+ DC that's supposed to get 40mbit/s I get no where NEAR that, I get maybe 4-5mbit tops with full signal, I have dodo for ADSL 2+ get synced at 17mbit/s and always can get near that.

        The best thing about fibre, it gets rid of the silly distance to speed ratio that DSL is flawed with, as long as you can connect to fibre it doesn't matter how close you are to the source, you can get the same speeds as everyone else.

      There are as many wireless broadband connections in Australia as there are fixed-line broadband ones (both just over 40% each of all connections), but collectively the wireless connections move one tenth the data of the fixed-line ones.

      Wireless broadband infrastructure would need to increase tenfold (ie, ten times as many towers and all the associated infrastructure to support them) just to meet the existing demand for data, even before accommodating growth in demand. And considering the poorer quality, higher latency signal that wireless provides, that would in fact be a step backwards.

      Wireless is ten years and an order of magnitude behind fixed-line in both speed and capacity. Wireless speed and capacity is growing exponentially, but so is fixed-line speed and capacity. Ten years from now when the NBN is done, wireless will of course have advanced up to today's fixed-line standard. But fixed-line will be ten years ahead of today. It's never going to catch up.

    Turnbull's eyeing his shares in the suppliers to NBN. Plebs like us should just be happy with the promise of Capital Gains tax that he will have to pay - maybe that will equate to an extra doctor in my local hospital.

      Wait you are on a tech site, and you are ignorant on how technology works?

      we don't even know the limits of fibre optics yet, it's much easier to upgrade the network once the fibre is laid.

      Wireless towers have too many disadvantages, cost, penetration, and the fact you STILL need some sort of wired connection somewhere, it's also less reliable and more expensive to upgrade and maintain in the long run...but I guess you only care about the short term and don't care about how the technology can help not only the current generation but generations to come.

      By the time wireless speeds hit 1gbit (which is what the NBN will be capable of to a house, but most likely not going to be sold at those speeds, as we'll be limited by other factors as well) I can't even imagine how fast fibre optics to the home will be.

        Sorry replied to wrong person, please delete

    I am sandwiched between two NBN roll outs to my left and right. looks like I'll be waiting a while.

    If it was supposed to be split between the states equally, why did NSW get so much and VIC comparatively little, going by population.

      Because this is just about buying votes for the next election. Every area thats getting the NBN connected within the next 12 months are marginal seats. Funny about that. Down the road, a marginal seat called McEwan, just held by labor in the last election, will be getting connected within 12-24 months. 500 meters across the way, I live in Scullin, a very very safe labor seat. 3 friggin years plus before we get a look in, yet the pits with fibre optic cables run right past my home. Fuck labor, they deserve to get wiped like a babys ass for treating us like idiots. It's the kind of arrogance you'd expect from the Libs. Good job Juliar, good job.

    I'm on one of the roll out areas within the next 3 years. Will let you know how it goes.

    I find it so frustrating that people can still be so uniformed about the technology used in Labor's NBN. Labor need to put some funding toward getting people informed about the real advantages over their NBN and the coalitions NBN. If they don't, its precious votes they are going to lose, and that could spell the death of the NBN we need, just to make room for a short sighted wireless network, which I think everyone will reckon is crap when the only speeds they can get are the same as now, which Labor will probably get the blame anyway.

      Correction
      "about the real advantages OF their NBN OVER coalitions NBN."

      The people will get what they deserve.

        Not all people will. I think I deserve super fast broadband, and I probably won't get it, just because the current government can't capitalize on what is a vote better, if people are informed correctly. I see it every day.
        The coalition keeps making stupid remarks about the NBN, which are so far from the truth. Certain newspapers keep reporting rubbish. People keep getting their heads filled with incorrect information. Why isn't the government doing anything about it. I know the NBNco has it's own website, but the people that are against it aren't going to visit it.

        Arrggghhh. Sorry if I sound like I'm whinging, but it's so damn frustrating. I just need to vent sometimes.

    I wonder what will happen to all the new estates being built as NBN ready, but not actually getting connected. In the city I live in (Gladstone QLD), there are 2 such estates currently being built, but Gladstone is not set to receive the NBN in the next 3 years.

    If the coalition win the next election, are they obliged to connect these estates? If so, they may as well connect the houses around them. If not, I might have to move house.

      Geeknees, the 2 greenfield estates being built now will be connected to the filbre connect work now, even though Gladstone may not get it for a few years. This is as per the instructions from the Govt to the NBN Co.

    i feel sorry for this country if the libs gain control. nbn will be the labour parties crowning glory. all i can say is, dont be blind people, labour needs to stay in. the lesser of two evils.

      LOL thats funny...and its Labor...going into labour laughing so hard

      If only everyone could see like that. Can you imagine actually wanting Abbot and his bigoted Coalition of backward bogans to lead the country? That kind of thought process terrifies me. Are people that afraid of progress? There's people on here that think they're into tech, yet they want a Luddite party that don't give a shit about high speed Internet or any other evolutionary, progressive projects that require money and vision . Not to mention all the other conservative 1950's style thought processes and "policies" (STILL all uncosted) that Abbott wants to deliver.

      Wake up people. You're being brainwashed by a man who knows about 5 clichéd lines (toxic tax, no boats, pink bats, school halls, white elephant BLAH fucking BLAH) that are stuck on repeat.

    I live in Bundaberg, QLD and I am very happy that we will get the roll out of the first 3 year plan. I would like to dispel a couple of things that are constantly raised in the NBN debate. My home is in a strong federal and state liberal electorate and little chance of a labour member in the near future. Therefore the argument of political bias is moot. Regional Centres are the first to miss out so it's nice to see a regional centre getting something . For all the people saying wireless is the answer, come to the country and see how well wireless works and costs when it's Telstra or nothing. I have 3 young children and the NBN will mean talking to family across the country in real time rather than the skype crackle. Before you start on NBN bashing just think about the rest of Australia outside metro areas we get even worse options than anyone.

    The key issue, regardless of political persuasion, is the unarguable fact that the NBN does not have a published and well-founded business case.
    Some lounge-chair experts, such as the ones you find here, argue the business case is about the amazing new productive world it will facilitate. I happen to think that's a load of bollocks. I think it's going to allow you to view entertainment better. And that's great (although the porn experience does not linearly improve with image quality/bandwidth -- at some point seeing ass pimples in HD kinda diminishes the experience). So let's not confuse improving entertainment possibilities that world-changing productivity benefits.
    I've done a vast amount of work around innovation with businesses and know all too well that the constraint on innovation has virtually nothing to do with bandwidth. The constraints are far more about (lack of) cognitive abilities, (ignorance of) cognitive biases and (lack of) education. The NBN ain't doing jack to address those pain points.
    And anyway, if real productivity benefits are realised in certain market segments, it's likely those same businesses that gain also lose via additional competition with international suppliers (as the internet doesn't care where you live) with significantly lower cost bases and probably better product (because other countries are literally hungrier than we are and therefore have lower costs and higher incentive to innovate). So it may lead to an increase in unemployment as industries lose protection (imposed via bandwidth constraints) and therefore start to struggle in a more competitive landscape. I anticipate the answer we will hear from from the same command economy philosophers that want the NBN in the first place will be "more protectionist policy". Sigh. But then, self-interest begets self-interest. (There's significant irony that so much utilitarian-based policy ends up achieving the opposite, but I digress.)
    Turning away from so-called business benefits to the customer. Well, for those customers who want the NBN because it will bring them cheap great bandwidth that they don't have access to now, well congratulations for such a well thought out argument. Who doesn't want stuff subsidised by someone else? I get it. I sometimes eat cheap at an RSL, thanking the schmucks feeding the pokies that subsidise my meal. While we're at it, I'd like a nice big house, a multi-car garage full of classics and access to the country's best doctors and masseuses for free whenever I want. Such desires are completely normal but have no place in a rational discussion about business case. Such arguments are best had by the kinds of people who move next to an airport and then want it closed because of the noise, not by sense-making people.
    Why do we think internet pricing shouldn't be geographically based? All other products work that way, so I don't get it. Should I start whinging that we don't have policies in place that ensure the rent I pay for my pad in the north shore of Sydney is the same as some outer suburb of Adelaide? Of course not! You want location, location, location to only apply to views, distance from CBD and access to public transport? Where's the logic in that?
    I don't want people in the bush to miss out on internet-based services. So here's an idea for such people pay for it and factor the costs into the price of your product (like you do with petrol prices, for example). I then end up paying more for apples and scotch fillet. You get what you want and I get what I want. The marketplace sorts it out. Strange how that works.

    But, no, rather than deal with all that sense, let's just go with some very quickly dreamt up marginal-electorate vote-buying policy dreamt up on plane trip. Yeah, that's a much better idea. Kudos Australia. Wait till the euro and american economies collapse, demand for our resources decline and there's a significant property price correction and banks start to struggle. Let's see how pleased we are then with loaning out tens of billions on faster porn, err… I mean entertainment.

      Thanks for your "unarguable" opinions.

      We could of course continue to leave it for the marketplace to sort out, but we tried that already, and got a mess of a system where a great many people can't get ADSL at all (stuck behind RIMs, too far from an exchange, even in the cities), or where it's little better than dialup speeds anyway, or drops out constantly due to degrading copper lines, etc etc. The marketplace is only interested in skimming off the cream of the customers.

      Imagine if we'd left our telephone network to be built the same way - these same people probably wouldn't have phone service at all. Thankfully, a government monopoly ensured anyone could get basic phone service, and another one is now required to ensure everyone can get usable broadband.

      And you might use broadband only for entertainment, but I require fast broadband to communicate with my overseas customers, my kids need broadband to access the Khan Academy to further their education, and millions of other Australians each have their own broadband needs today which are pretty important to them. Are you going to require that all these people move to areas the telcos approve of? How is that going to help our cities' congestion problems?

      tl;dr: The NBNCo is a business, and will provide good medium- and long-term returns on the Government's investment.

        If your business requires something, you pay for it, right? If you can't find a supplier, you're not prepared to pay enough or something else is wrong. Factoring cost into price is not exactly rocket science. I know by your writing style that you get that concept. I also know you are capable of realising that if your business can't compete on price after factoring in the true internet cost for your location, you need to move. You know that's totally fair and reasonable. There aren't too many warehouses in the middle of Sydney's CBD for the same reason.
        I fear that your argument is founded on your personal self-interest. It sounds to me like you want others to subsidise your desire to be in a location that affords you a quality of life you seek. Sorry, but you know that "subsidy" is just a euphemism for stealing from others.
        Lastly, I'm happy to hear you are using Khan Academy to help educate your kids. I also recommend viewing and debating Milton Friedman's Free to Choose series with them.
        Finally, you say that NBN will provide good medium and long term returns. Is there such a genuine report or is it pure conjecture? I'd like to read it, because I don't understand why private enterprise wouldn't have rolled it out independently if such a thing was true. Just like Google Fiber in Kansas City.

          I understand the "user pays" principle, and it's valid where *all* the costs of doing business are factored in. But that's certainly not always the case. The example I gave - congestion - is a long-term cost that doesn't directly and immediately impact the business that's creating the congestion (in fact, it may benefit that business while impacting many others). There are many other examples (such as pollution). In these cases, carefully applied subsidies, taxes, tax breaks, regulatory oversight etc are needed to take the place of these missing cost pressures.

          Then there's the development of new industries. All governments, no matter how free-market-oriented, subsidise certain key industries that they want to encourage, in order to reduce future costs or improve competitiveness. You simply can't declare that "subsidies == stealing from others" without ignoring half the economy; the world is not that black and white.

          Even ignoring quality of life, there are many sound economic reasons for encouraging your population to decentralise - reducing the artificially-high cost of real estate is an obvious one.

          You should read NBNCo's business plan, but the primary reason they'll generate the projected returns is that their monopoly guarantees customers, with regulated fair prices, and also lowers overall costs by reducing duplication of effort. Private enterprise would eventually roll out fibre, just like they did the HFC cable network, but only by cherry-picking areas. As with cable (and the Kansas City fibre), it would only be available to a lucky few, artificially constraining supply, raising prices and sending profits soaring. As Telstra demonstrated so clearly with ISDN and cable, there's simply no incentive for them to roll it out beyond the most lucrative markets, nor to price it in line with its actual costs. Good news for the shareholders, but bad news for their customers, and the whole market suffers as a result.

          National infrastructure is one of those areas which is simply more efficient and effective if built by the nation. We see it with roads, power, water, sewage, and communications too. In the cases where government hasn't done this (such as the US telecommunications industry), the results are usually piecemeal, overpriced and incompatible, with high profits but precious little evidence of the customer's interests being served.

          Thanks for the Free to Choose tip; I'll check that out.

            Re factoring in "all costs". You can choose to pay more for "green" electricity. You can choose to pay more for an environmentally friendlier car. Suppliers provide these options because they see demand. And customers can then choose what they pay for. That's freedom of choice. And that's one of the most beautiful thing in the world.
            Subsidies empirically end up lining the pockets of those who know how to lobby the best, just stealing from one group to give to another. Your confirmation bias may be preventing you from seeing it from that perspective, but the empirical evidence suggests otherwise. Look at the protectionist approach to the car industry, for example. Money is stolen, in the form of taxes, to pay car companies to stay here (GM recently received more than $250m). Further money is stolen from me, in the form of policy-inflacted prices via regulations that prevent import competition. And for what outcome, exactly? Something about jobs? And yet, surely the NBN further promotes the "global village", thereby increasing competition and putting more pressure on jobs. The book Race against the Machine is critical reading. So is Seth Godin's very short blog article on the forever recession. If the NBN is going to enable wonderful new ways of working, GM shouldn't even need to have a physical presence here but still create jobs! We are going to need to deal with the displaced workers issue. We should be thinking about that sooner rather than kicking the can down the road with short-term policies.
            Re encouraging industries. Even if the policy is actually a good one (unlikely… probably much more to do with lobbying), how frequently does its execution seem to be wanting (pink bats, solar panels, school laptops, NBN without business case, blah blah blah…)? I'm over it. Let the marketplace work it out. Sure it's not perfect. But neither are policies, that's for sure. They seem to produce even worse outcomes, regardless of whether they root cause be incompetence or corruption. And our freedom of choice is compromised. Our money is forcefully taken. I'd rather be free to choose and have to be self-reliant, thanks. If I make dumb decisions, be it on me. Evolution seems to suggest that's the best approach. And for those who can't be self-reliant? The good news is that we are built to feel joy helping the less fortunate. So we will. Also, competent people choose to pay for insurance if they can't afford to self-insure to protect against such misfortune.
            Re "artificially-high cost of real estate". Again, it's policies that are at least partly to blame for your issue around this. Negative gearing policies are very much responsible for the over investment and consequent price inflation in such an unproductive asset class. It also then leads to a culture of credit, leading to many negatives including the increased potential for the kinds of economic downturn I referred to previously.
            Re national infrastructure. Yes, it's a tricky one. But many of the people of Sydney have money stolen from them indirectly through taxes to pay for roads whilst simultaneously paying in the form of tolls. How is that fair? It always makes me laugh when I hear people talk about a congestion charge. What do you think toll roads and $20+ daily parking fees are? The marketplace works out the pricing. And some people in Sydney are prepared to spend up to $50 a day to travel by car and park in the CBD. They must be loving the thought of policies imposing a congestion charge. What a farce.
            And then there's Sydney's desalination plant. 1/2 a billion a year being spent right now whilst the dam overflows. Yet more evidence of policy brilliance.
            Re national infrastructure. Monopolies suck (have you spoken to anyone that had to deal with Telecom when it was a monopoly? They won't have positive things to say, I assure you.) And the thing is, an open marketplace doesn't produce them, government intervention does. As for your argument about how the NBN's monopoly is going to enable it to provide coverage that isn't cherry picked, well last I checked the NBN was doing fibre to the home for an expected 90% or so of the population. Hypothetical question: if you end up one of the 2 million people not getting it, would your argument change? You'd be having money stolen from you pay some family possibly just a few miles down the road to get it whilst you're sweet out of luck. Would you then swing around to my argument of let the marketplace work it out and allow customers to pay for it (more if they live in a geographically difficult area, but co-ops are often useful in such a situation) and then factor it into the price of their goods or the cost of their lifestyle or move? I think you would.
            Freedom of choice is what we all want more than anything else. Unfortunately we now live in a world where it appears we are happy to compromise the freedom of choice of the competent and self-reliant to empower the incompetent. I don't think it's a healthy culture in a world that's evolving to enable more and more competition. We're setting ourselves up to be unable to cope in times of trouble.
            Enjoying the civil discussion.

              Long post :-) I'll try and keep my response brief.
              * Not sure how many companies offered renewable energy until the state-government Green Power initiative?
              * You keep describing subsidies as "stolen" money, which is pretty loaded language, and not exactly accurate.
              * Subsidies for e.g. car companies not only create jobs, they mean we still have a viable local alternative to reduce dependence on foreign imports. Thought you'd be in favour of that.
              * NBN makes our own internet-based companies (such as myself) more globally competitive. It's far more than just a faster YouTube, like some think.
              * You seem to think a free market solves all problems. I think you'd just see a whole new set of problems, since (as I mentioned before), many of the costs of a business are not met by the business itself, so they have no incentive to reduce those costs. Pressure is often required to be manually applied to a market to take the place of those missing costs. E.g. regulation is required to prevent the excessive pollution seen in many developing countries and during the Industrial Revolution.
              * Freedom of choice must always be balanced against the public good and the freedom of others. Levels of freedom vary by country, but it's interesting that there's a correlation between high standards of living and some of the more socialist democratic systems seen in e.g. Scandinavian countries, whereas less socialist countries like the US tend to have extremes of luxury and poverty. Australia strikes a good balance IMHO, but luckily we're all mostly free to move to the country of our choice.
              * I think you'll find that tolls don't begin to cover the full cost of building and maintaining roads. And where are the tolls in the CBD? Bridge tolls and parking fees only pay for bridges and (private) parking. If you're in favour of user-pays, why would you object to a congestion charge that helps cover the true cost of the CBD road network?
              * "1/2 a billion a year" for the desalination plant is amortised capital cost, not running cost. We don't need its output this month, but we could've used it at the height of the recent drought, and we'll have even more need for it during the inevitable future droughts (which are predicted to be more severe due to climate change, and of course Sydney's demand for water is also growing).
              * Private monopolies suck. Vertical monopolies suck. Regulated state monopolies can also suck, but usually less so (imperatives on providing a service rather than profit), and are frequently necessary for major infrastructure, especially when building it (road network is a good example).
              * NBNCo is doing fibre to 93% of the population, not 90%, and the remainder get wireless and satellite. Nobody is left out completely. All services have trade-offs. Customers not using the NBN don't have to pay a monthly fee. Their taxes do pay for building it, but they also benefit from the 7% return on that investment, projected for 2021 onwards (with full repayment by 2034).
              * We all want freedom of choice, but none of us get (or expect) *total* freedom. There are always trade-offs, and I would expect many people would prefer more money and better living standards over greater freedom of choice (though not all of course). Australia's system is a fairly middle-of-the-road compromise.

              No man is an island, not any more. We band together as companies to undertake larger projects, and as nations to build the biggest projects. In both cases unified action is required, even without 100% agreement with policy. But you'll agree we need to remain competitive, and the NBN is a vital investment in the infrastructure required for the country to compete in the Information Age.

                These posts are getting too long, aren't they, so I'll just refer to something I hope you find interesting. :)

                In your point about political systems and quality of life outcomes you describe the USA as the pin-up boy of freedom, Australia as middle of the road and Scandinavian countries on the lower end. The reality is actually very different (which I, like you, also didn't realise until fairly recently). The evidence available to us suggests Australia enjoys significantly more freedom than the USA. As do Scandinavian countries, at least in some categories. Source: http://www.heritage.org/index/default

            Re: artificially-high cost of real estate
            Yet more evidence of the negative impact of all these policies you so love:
            http://www.afr.com/p/business/property/house_prices_up_to_pc_tax_hia_report_bZLnnp7yUn9qSQFSeJta3J
            It would seem to be highlighting that you're actually whinging about yourself and your "let's have lots of policies" viewpoint.
            We both want the same thing. I just think the empirical evidence demonstrates your approach is more flawed (obviously no approach is perfect). And your comments suggest you agree without even realising it.

    i love how people turn this into a political debate. like it matters which party is in power. current govt only cares about retaining power, opposition only cares about getting into power.

    it is like one is black and the other is white when it comes to anything yet we generally have the same outcome. just once i would like the opposition to say, we agree! but no, even if they did agree with anything they will oppose it in the media because they think their name should be taken literally... we must oppose, it is in our name. if the govt agrees with the opposition then they are copying and vice versa.

    this is how we run our country... with zero common sense. it is like 2 idiotic religions going to war

    20 years ago, when I worked for Telecom/Telstra there were a large number of private fibre cables around the North Sydney CBD. (I had the cable maps in my office) The companies concerned paid Telstra rent for the ducts, and for the Telstra staff to run the cables in. As I understand it, they will be "recliamed" by the NBN, without any compensation, so that NBN can use the ducts, and maximise their hold on communications

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