Turnbull's Revised NBN Schedule May Take A Year To Start

Just a couple of days out from the election, Malcolm Turnbull's started to offer a few more snippets of information regarding the Coalition's NBN plans.

Photo: Getty/S.Postles

In an article in The Australian, it's stated that the Coalition would be re-prioritising its NBN rollout plans "to those most in need, rather than to the most commercially viable installations" — although I've got to admit I'm not sure how that differs from the current FTTP NBN rollout plan — but that the transition could take up to a year to transition away from FTTP to FTTN.

“What we said is we’ll honour all contracts but if there hasn’t been any agreement or any signature then there isn’t a contract.”

It's also fairly clear that part of that prioritisation involves getting private enterprise on board and allowing them to "cherry pick" the more profitable areas — which in theory should allow coverage over those areas that are more commercially viable.

“We think the object of policy is to ensure that everybody gets very fast broadband as soon as possible … we’re not going to prevent competition with the NBN, we think that’s something that certainly shouldn’t be obstructed as long as the competitors are common carriers and are providing a wholesale service.”

I'm sure it's no coincidence that he made the statement while in a privately engineered FTTN enabled apartment block in Sydney's Erskineville, because it shows off his usage case in the most positive light possible. That's politics for you, though; the reality for any kind of fibre installation is that apartment blocks are always going to be an infrastructure challenge. Then again, the history of Australian telecommunications suggests that this kind of cherry picking is exactly what the existing players have always done, ignoring the less profitable areas entirely.

That aside, there's really one thing that stands out for me from this particular interview, and that's the idea that it'll take a year to "transition" from the FTTP plan. The Coalition's stated policy at launch was that they'd get a 25Mbps minimum (download) network up and running by the end of their first term of government. If it's going to take a year to transition off FTTP planning, what does that mean for that schedule?

[The Australian]

Further Reading: Tony Abbott Says Coalition NBN Plan Is "Absolutely Bulletproof"


Comments

    I don't know why they don't just keep the current NBN plan. It's going to cost so much more for them to scrap it than it would to just let it roll out.

      Whilst I don't think FTTN is a good option, I also think that the current plan can be improved immensely. Malcolm could become a hero if he could deliver FTTP cheaper, faster, better than the current NBN plan. All he needs to do is make Simon Hackett NBNCo's new CEO....

      http://simonhackett.com/2013/07/17/nbn-fibre-on-a-copper-budget/

        +ten million I don't need multiple network devices on site. Just a Fibre capable router equivelent to my ADSL router that I have now.

          What about in 10 or 20 years time when you do need the extra infrastructure? Surely it's better to future-proof the entire installation from the beginning with the best technology we currently have. Installing a network with the bare minimum requirements for current usage is pointless.

            Hi Dane,

            It seems as though you either didn't understand my comment or watch the video on the web page I linked to (or both?). I'm actually advocating FTTP (i.e. Fibre To The Premises), not FTTN. You are correct! We do need "future-proofed" infrastructure! We do need the best technology we currently have!

            I think you may have missed the point? Anyway, I'm not sure why you down-voted my post when we seem to be in agreement?

            The point that Simon Hackett made in the presentation on the link I posted (it's well worth the time to check it out, by the way) is that the NBN process and plan could be significantly streamlined and improved, leading to a massive reduction in cost and build time, but delivering better outcomes than the current structure of the NBN plan and rollout.

            TL;DR, watch the presentation in the link I posted and things will make a lot more sense.....

              I had watched the video and think it's silly to be removing the NTD from homes based on a very long-term forecast of the NBN's business plan. The NTD provides 2 voice lines (with battery backup) and 4 data ports to each house. Simon says that mobile networks can be used for voice line replacement but this isn't as reliable as a wired service with emergency battery backup. It's a pretty easy task to build a mobile jammer or for the mobile infrastructure to be overloaded in a natural disaster. He also says that there is no need for the 4 data ports as services can be delivered via the internet, which is true currently but not future-proof. As an example, what happens when FTA TV starts being broadcast via the NBN, does everyone want to use internet allowance from their ISP to access this or just plug in another device to one of the 3 empty data ports? Simon's presentation on making the NBN roll-out cheaper (even though he admits to not knowing by how much) is very biased by his role as a director for an ISP who need to maximise their profits. Removing the NTD will lock everyone into using their ISP for every service that is sent over the fiber.

              Last edited 04/09/13 2:00 pm

                Thanks for your post. It's much clearer where our differences are now. I'm glad that we both agree that the fibre needs to come to the premises! I guess where I'm coming from is that I think the NBN infrastructure should end at the connection to the home and not include the extravagant NTD that has to be installed by NBNCo (or subcontractor to NBNCo) if it means it can be delivered faster, cheaper and much more flexibly.

                Toby wasn't necessarily very eloquent in how he said it, but what (I think) he was saying was a valid point. I don't think the NTD should be determined by the infrastructure company. The end user should acquire the NTD/router that suits their purpose. This doesn't preclude anybody getting an NTD that can be used with multiple providers (like the current NBN one). It just means that the people who want multiple providers fund the cost, instead of everyone getting the mega NTD that they're getting at the moment. I'll follow up with more reasons for my thinking, but I have to shoot off for a second.

                Essentially, I think it's more important to get the non-trivial infrastructure (i.e. the fibre to the premises) built quicker and at less cost than to add extra cost and build time for the relatively trivial end point item (i.e. the NTD), which can be provided by the RSP and easily switched out by the end user.

                  But how much faster and cheaper will it be if the NBN NTD isn't provided? A contractor still needs to run the fiber into your house from the outside connection box. Putting an NTD on the wall at the same time won't take as long as routing the fiber cable in the first place. Then, an NTD has to be acquired by the end-user. Surely this would be cheaper if NBN Co is able to use their enormous buying power of 1 NTD per premises in Australia. There is also the issue of QoS if everyone is using different equipment that NBN Co don't have any control over. Each fiber is shared between 32 premises so 1 dodgy NTD could cause a whole heap of problems. The way I see it, removing NBN Co's NTD will only improve the roll-out time slightly at the expense of the end-user cost increasing and the quality of the network decreasing.

                  Last edited 04/09/13 4:00 pm

                  @moollar

                  Removing a standard NTD is a recipe for constant support headaches. An NBNCo. standard NTD ensure all troubleshooting can be done instantly by NBNCo. to ascertain exactly where the fault is on a service. Removing this option will create much longer delays in troubleshooting.

                  Also, removing the NTD from NBNCo's costings is not a significant saving- it's estimated the NTD, volume rollout, costs between $70 and $80. Compared to the $2300-2400 per premises for total FTTP install. That's less than a 5% saving, while losing significant customer support capabilities and standardisation efficiency (mass rollout of firmware upgrades for bugs etc.....)

                  I do not agree with Simon on this point and never will. There is no significant saving to be had from removing the NTD and it will remove significant support options.

                I appreciate your logical, reasoned discussion, Dane. It's so refreshing compared to many of the arguments that are often associated with the NBN (on both sides). :)

                I think I should point out that I'm not suggesting that what I'm saying (or what Simon was saying) is THE way things should be done. For example, I don't think Simon meant that using the mobile network was THE solution for voice calls, but rather that it could be A solution. Also, we're talking about the NTD part of the network in our discussion, but that's just one small part that could be optimised. I don't think focusing on only one thing is helpful (indeed, I think it's possible that you and I could probably have a lengthy discussion on the subject where we might end up agreeing to disagree). Rather, I think what needs to be done is that the whole NBN plan / process should be audited by someone who has the capability to see where things can be done more efficiently, effectively or both (as Simon implied)!

                I just hope that FTTP is not scrapped if the coalition come into government this weekend. If it came to a choice between FTTN and a more optimised FTTP rollout, I would gladly take the latter. :)

                p.s. There seems to be a limit to the number of levels a discussion goes on Gizmodo, so I had to reply to your earlier comment, because I couldn't reply to your last one.

                Cheers.

                  @seven_tech thanks for your post as well. That was really informative. Does cable have the same support issues with people using differing cable modems on the network? I'm not being facetious, I'm genuinely interested, because the similarity of people sharing a FAN with fibre sounds similar to what happens with cable. Is there a difference with fibre in this case? I can see where you're coming from with only having to support one type of NTD. It would certainly simplify troubleshooting.

                  @moollar

                  Cable is a different kettle of fish. It's much closer to DSL, because it uses copper for the last mile. Up to the optical node at street level, Telstra et al. can see where the problem is. Beyond that, it's good old fashioned tech troubleshooting. And settings like passwords, protocol, attenuation requirements etc. are all usually locked. Of course that doesn't stop many people playing with them.

                  The NTD eliminates many of the support problems we have on a DSL system- predominantly incorrect settings, incompatible hardware, wiped passwords, usernames and the like. These are things that are required due to the majority "layer 3" nature of the provision of DSL- provision must be built into the CPE to distinguish service at the exchange, rather than back at operations, as in the NBN. With layer 2 being handled by NBNCo for the NBN, thereby eliminating almost any input from the user end CPE, the only problems that should occur would be physical and that can still be tracked by NBNCo. as I understand it, via a diagnostic pulse to the NTD.

        But why? It doesn't need to be made cheaper. It's already going to pay for itself in a reasonable amount of time. I just don't understand why people keep raising the argument of cost.

    KRudd should quickly get some contracts signed up to the private sector to guarantee the nbn gets done properly.

      The government is in caretaker mode and can't (legally) enter into any new contracts.

        NBN Co is not in caretaker mode and can sign as many as they like!

          So the banner on the NBNCO website saying
          ' The caretaker conventions related to the upcoming Federal election apply to NBN Co. During the caretaker period, NBN Co is carrying out the current Government’s policies, subject to the caretaker conventions. ' means they can do anything they want does it?

          Not true. Check out their website. They make it pretty clear they are subject to caretaker conventions.
          http://www.nbnco.com.au/

    I predicted just yesterday that one of the first things the coalition would do in government, would be to put a hold on the NBN while it 'reviewed' the project. The result would be that the whole thing will be shelved for at least a year, possibly forever, on the basis that the country can't afford it. This sounds like step one in that process. Watch this space.

    If Labor had gone down the route of connecting the most profitable areas - we'd have started in the CBD's rather than regional centers like Ballarat and Armidale. This may have made the business case more tenable and looked better to superficial scrutiny but they instead decided to prove their commitment to regional australia first and it's being used against them.

    I work on this project directly and I can tell you from 1st-hand experience - we are not rolling out to where the dollars are - we are rolling out to where the divide is currently greatest.

    Either plan will keep me employed as I now have copper and fibre experience but after 10 years in the Industry I cannot in good-faith advocate the Liberal plan - my kids would laugh at me, curse me for hobbling their ambitions and doubley curse me for placing this cost on their future and the additional cost to do it right in 2025 when it becomes clearly obvious which plan was better.

      And wow - 2 hrs after Turnbull makes these statements - my company is letting people go as of tomorrow. They can't afford to keep people on staff with such uncertainty...may even be me! I should now in the next day or so but I hope my copper expertise keeps me employed.

        Could you elaborate on this? Where do you work?

        I hope you keep your job.

          Err not a good idea in a public forum where I am discussing commercial interests - clearly I am from Melbourne...I may also work in Melbourne.

          Edit: deleted from fear and financial insecurity - the self-censoring begins.

          Last edited 10/09/13 8:05 am

            Well. That all didn't take long to start. <.<

            I for one, don't welcome out new LNP overlords.

      "the additional cost to do it right in 2025 when it becomes clearly obvious which plan was better."
      What do you mean, in 2025? It's very obvious right now in the areas that have already been connected, and are using it. I live in Armidale, and have been on NBN Fibre for 21 months, and it really is the best option for most of this country's communications infrastructure. At best, we can expect a maximum download speed of 100Mbps with FTTN, but NBNCo already has plans to increase the maximum download speed to 1Gbps by the end of this year. By the time that 2025 rolls around, I would not be surprised that speeds will be available in the vicinity of 1Tbps, but only for those on Fibre.

        I mean - obvious to even the most-tech-ignorant-curmudgeon -- I think this forum is probably full of people who agree with what you said and congratulations on being in Armidale! The future has arrived early for you, you lucky lucky person. :)

      "we are rolling out to where the divide is currently greatest."

      Really? So explain to me why my suburb is still mainly on pair gains and there is no schedule to have NBN rollout, yet the next suburb over they already had broadband with no issues and are already getting NBN rolled out.

    Reading on the Age about this today.. the main point of concern I have. Labor NBN's was due to roll out in our area in 2015... The Liberals (inferior) service is not due to be rolled out in our area until 2017; that's 2 years later & then I've also read that some areas with cable already may never get connected to the nbn; because cable is 'good enough').. it isn't; my area is seeing some pretty massive growth & every month my cable get's slower & slower as more people connect (copper is rotten in our area; so dsl isn't even an option)..

    So I can't help but feel, we've been stooged. Too little has been said of the coalitions plan so it's really impossible to know what we are going to get.

      So I can't help but feel, we've been stooged. Too little has been said of the coalitions plan so it's really impossible to know what we are going to get.

      This is how I feel about all of the Liberal party policies.

        Sadly the media are going to get the Libs a win :(

    Here's a question. I have optus cable. So I already have fibre to my house. How does that fit into the coalitions plan? Or am I probably already getting cable as good as it'll give.

    I am also in one of those dead spots on the NBN map. Surrounded by area's where NBN starts in the next year or three years.

      Optus Cable isn't fibre. It's cable, as in wire.

        Interesting, I was always under the impression it was fibre.

        Then why the fuck am I in a zone where we'll apparently never get fibre.

        It's a fairly well off area. Surround by area's getting it on the map. Nothing.

          You're not in an area which will never get fibre. You're in an area which won't get fibre within the next three years, the maximum timeframe for NBN Co's published rollout plan. Being in a "fairly well off area" has nothing to do with anything. Send an enquiry to NBN Co and ask them why you're place isn't on the map.

            Correction - @Screamface IS in an area that will never get fibre IF Tony Abbott wins.

              Edit. Never mind. I didn't realise I'd scrolled this far back.

              Last edited 08/09/13 2:09 pm

    So does this mean the nbn will continue as is for a year ?

    Nbnco website says that my area is due to start July '13. But the website hasn't been updated for a while. Are they going to continue all current installations?

    What I don't understand is FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHY!!!!

    * Fibre is nowhere near it's capacity to improvement. Copper is at it's limits.
    * Fibre CAN deliver currently 1Gbps. We'd be lucky to get 25Mbps from our current copper.
    * FTTP will deliver massive productivity increases (sorry no quantification available)
    * FTTP will save on average $3400 per household per year (according to figures released by Delloit today)
    * FTTP nodes are small, unpowered and underground. FTTN nodes are huge, ugly, powered, required cooling and are a bloody eyesore.
    * Business are clamouring for Fibre. Most business groups have been trumpeting the NBN.
    * FTTP costs $36bn dollars of government investment. FTTN costs $29bn.

    What rational group of people would choose FTTN over FTTP?

      Minor correction: FTTP and FTTN nodes (TFANS. iFANs Gen6Cabinets under development at alcatel for fibre/copper cutovers at the node) are actually both quite large and both require power - the Fibre distribution Hubs (FDH) are the smaller nodes you are thinking of and you only see them in New Estates.

      And yes yes yes to all your other points.

      edit: and dont foget that in Korea a trial on Fibre was done which allowed a peta-bit of data to be transfered so the magic Giga-bit is already able to be overtaken.

      Coppers is maxed and will be lucky to get much more out of it regardless of the developments in copper transmission - fibre is so open to further developments.

      Last edited 05/09/13 9:11 am

        I thought you had expertise in fibre? You should know all recent ultra high speed fibre tests (Sony, Japan, China, etc) use OFC with different physical properties, particularly the refractive index, because the core has a different void and glass diameter. Those speeds aren't even remotely possible on the type of OFC being rolled out for the NBN.

          I have expertise in what we are (were) actually building - rather than what we are not building. The Korean example is perfection of the theory and admittedly is not what we have been rolling out - not real world (yet) but as of last night...it's not going to matter anyway.

          I expect there will be ongoing developments in the smaller diameter fiber which will reduce the loss due to refraction and attenuation - just as copper has developed beyond what many saw as it's limits of the time.

          Either way - the horse has bolted - Giddyup Tony Abbott.

            All good mate, I just see a lot of 'fibre is speed of light your all stupids' arguments from people who don't really understand the technology and it rubs me the wrong way. Current commercial OFC isn't as future-proof as people make it out to be.

    25Mbps download? what a joke, I already have 38Mbps on my telstra cable connection. I'm keen for the NBN FTTP network so I can move away from Telstra's high prices. a FTTN network is of no interest to me

      Don't forget who created Telstra and why they are such a problem now...

      You can already get 100mb/s if you are on Telstra Cable. Quit your bitching.

    If you don't like what the Coalition is doing here, make some noise!
    Sign a petition like this and maybe they will take note of policies that people believe in!

    https://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/the-australian-liberal-party-commit-to-building-the-nbn-as-a-majority-ftth-network

    http://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/the-liberal-party-of-australia-reconsider-your-plan-for-a-fttn-nbn-in-favour-of-a-superior-ftth-nbn?share_id=jvwOqWaWDO&utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

      Nice Jimmy!
      Thanks for posting

    Two thoughts:

    1) Just because the government will not provide FTTH as part of the NBN most likely doesn't prohibit it from happening, if it's deemed to be profitable by private enterprise.

    An example of this would be https://www.e-wire.net.au/ - I have not been keeping track of them for several years, but generally their tactics were to talk to land developers and sell them their services (FTTH) before pre-planning even began ('connected communities').

    In their case, they also provide all the digital tv and radio channels through the same cabling and distributed thought the home - which could cut bandwidth use from endless streaming to some degree for most households i'd imagine.

    2) They say it will go to those 'most in need' - but who decides who that actually is? Who's going to be on the list and why?

    Under other plan i only had to wait til 2015 to get NBN in our area.. Seeing our area full of cable (rotten copper) I reckon we'll be waiting at least a decade, or more.. could be time to move..

    If the Coalition doesn't get a wriggle-on - Labor may well end up using the FTTP as their primary election platform in 3-years...I really hope this happens.

    If they review for too long and don't allow the Service Delivery Partners (people building the network) to retain skilled staff and/or re-hire, we may find that 12 months out from the next election - Labor re-polishes the FTTP plan and can use it to go to the next election.
    (Damn - how sad is this argument I am making?)

    In 3 years it will be more apparent which plan is 'future-proof'.

    Didn't take long; there's already a petition: http://iwantthenbn.com/

    you can all talk about the WHY? from the Liberal NBN policy but the reality is that Liberal has killed the NBN for Murdoch!!

    Slow internet = 10 more years of $$$ Foxtel
    Slow internet = more of a reliance on print media rather than new digital services

    Switokwski to head the NBN?
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-10/ziggy-switkowski-tipped-to-head-nbn/4947470
    Maybe they want the NBN to lose 4 billion.
    Why would you appoint a failed CEO in the same field?

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