NBN Unveils Its Three Year Plan

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, broadband minister Senator Stephen Conroy and NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley this morning launched the three-year rollout plan for the National Broadband Network. Here's the full blow-by-blow live report.

10:30 I'm at the launch of NBN Co's three-year rollout plan, which is being held at the Australian Technology Park offices of NICTA in Sydney. Odd factoid: The last time I was at the technology park was for a high speed broadband announcement as well. Maybe there's something about the place.

It's expected that the plan will cover a greatly expanded area of Australia, but the devil will, as always, be in the detail. NBN Co hasn't entirely hit the targets in previous plans, so it'll be fascinating to see what's announced as done, doing and being projected. (For those who want to watch along, I believe it's also being broadcast on ABC News 24.)

The event doesn't kick off until 11am, so for now it's just media milling and folks rushing around with clipboards. I'll update this post as new information is announced, so hit refresh for the latest details.

10:45: Media's been moved up to the back of the room. Probably the best place for us. Soothing background music plays...

If nothing else, this will be a brutal test of the wireless going into the place.

11:20: And we're (finally) underway. Or at least the Prime Minister has walked into the room, which is probably the same thing. Unless otherwise stated, all statements in quote marks below aren't mine (unless I mistype)...

Hugh Durrant-Whyte , NICTA (also serving as event MC): "ICT is now pervasive in all areas of the economy"

"The digital economy is taking off; this will be accelerated as the ubiquity of the NBN comes to fruition."

Julia Gillard:

"I've recently been in Korea; I had the opportunity to be on a linkup to a school in Armidale. Watching the power of that education experience reinforced in me that I do not want to see our nation left behind."

"Whilst our 100-year-old copper network has served us well, it cannot deliver the broadband we need in the future. We will see choked off the economic opportunities of the future. This will bring a different way of working and living to homes and businesses."

"We are announcing today that more than 3.5 million homes, businesses schools and hospitals will be connected in the next three years. More than 1 million in NSW alone. Around 700,000 premises in Victoria, 680,000 in Queensland, 480,000 in Western Australia, 330,000 in South Australia, 65,000 in the Northern Territory and over 200,000 in Tasmania. This three-year plan covers about one-third of all the homes and premises in Australia."

"We know in Tasmania its economy is in transition. Tasmania will see the benefits of the NBN today, and the ability for the NBN to transform the economy in the future. High speed broadband is simply going to revolutionise the way Australians live and work."

Stephen Conroy::

"This announcement has been preceded by a lot of work by NBN Co. This ensures that what we are announcing today will be delivered. Includes agreement with NBN Co, the Government and Telstra. By re-using the existing infrastructure we're helping to reduce the disruption to communities. Additionally, it will deliver the structural separation of Telstra. The copper network has served us well. Like the NBN, the copper network was rolled out by the government. The copper is strangling our economy -- the NBN is essential for our future."

"Australians who live and work outside our capital cities will be able to avoid hours of travelling via the NBN. Health services will mean you can see a specialist across town or in another city. Educational services online will mean our kids get access to a world class education."

"NBN wholesale prices are the same wherever you are, with retail services being very competitive. We've seen prices as low as $29.95 a month; with 100/40 plans we've seen as low as $49.95. To those that have said that prices would be high and competition would be low, we can categorically demonstrate that this will be false."

"For mainland Australia; electorates breakdown: 67 Labor, 61 Coalition, 6 cross-bench."

Mike Quigley, NBN Co:

"We've carried out product trials in three Tasmanian and five mainland sites, involving more than 2,500 end users." (Quigley's basically going over NBN history here)

"All this work has allowed us to announce stage one of the large scale rollout today."

(On priorities for the three year plan):

"First: Complete the first stage rollout plans. We had to achieve a balance across the states, and complete Tasmania by 2015. We had to prioritise the corridors where there were greenfield sites. We sequence the build to minimise cost and operate as efficiently as possible. We used optimisation software -- which I won't go into the details of."

"The planners had no idea of electoral boundaries. Not even interested -- I can assure you that wasn't even considered."

"All the key elements of the rollout are in place, and we look forward to being in your neighbourhood soon."

Checking the NBN Co homepage, you can search for your address right now:

Gillard, Conroy and Quigley now taking questions:

"NBN questions first, then others."

Q: Any guarantees if the 3.5 million covered if change at election?

Gillard: "There won't be if there's a change in government. There will be no broadband under Tony Abbott."

Quigley: "We're underway building 250,000 premises. By end of this financial year we'll be adding 500,000. So about 750,000 underway or built by the end of this financial year."

Conroy: "Abbot and Turnbull talk about fibre-to-the-node, which means you're using the copper. Turnbull wants to buy the copper; that's degrading; this is a plan that is rooted in the last century. It's a plan that ignores that the bandwidth demands in this country continue to expand exponentially."

Q: Will the Huawei decision be a problem with China?

Gillard: "I've stood up for Australian national interest; the opposition has stood up for a Chinese company. China itself takes a view about its own telecommunications rollout. We've taken a decision in the national interest and of course we stand by it."

Q: On reports of NBN cost blowouts today:

Conroy: "We reject right wing economic dogma. [Reports today] have serious factual errors; continue to misquote speed and the number of homes connected. The market failed; this is a natural monopoly."

Gillard: "From a common sense perspective in Australia, we're a very big country; needs here are different from countries with different size."

Q: Given polls and public cynicism, why doesn't Labor push the NBN more?

Gillard: "I don't accept your analysis of community opinion on the NBN. Inevitably with a new technology like this, levels of understanding will vary, but when I talk to business people they're very aware of the NBN; [healthcare likewise]. In education they're aware of how it's going to open a window of opportunity to the world."

Conroy: "There is a need for greater community awareness. NBN Co has just started a radio advertising campaign, and there's newspaper advertising coming."

Q: With the three-year plan, when do you expect to complete the rollout?

Quigley: "We've had some delays with the Telstra deal, which has happened. We have to submit a new corporate plan to the government by the end of May; we will be doing everything we can do to catch up; it's expected to be a decade long process."

Q: Have NBN Engineers examined Huawei gear for backdoor spying possibilities?

Quigley: "I won't comment on that."

Q: What about site selection?

Quigley: "We do sites in modules -- about 2,5000 to 3,000 premises. What we do, you may find there are constraints in particular areas depending on whether we have the links, or it could be straight engineering; we don't want to do too many places in the same area because of congestion issues. We know we're going to have some people who are disappointed; in 12 months' time we'll give an update."

Conroy: "What you'll see in areas is that it grows out organically. We can't do every street in Australia in the next three years."

Q: What percentage of premises already connected are using it?

Quigley: "That varies. We have eight sites now; the takeup rates do vary. We built those sites as trials to test operations, construction and general products. The takeup rate we are very pleased with. In Kiama, takeup rates are above 25 per cent. Compared to overseas, they don't get those kinds of takeup rates within four years."

Gillard: "One thing that has to be remembered is that people adapt to new technology. There were a lot of people here hunched over iPhones or blackberries. There were a lot of folk when those came out -- myself included -- who couldn't see a use for it. How wrong was I? That's an example of how technology can take a hold in our community. With the NBN, we'll see the same (thing)."

Q: Will there be new suburbs in the 12 month update

Gillard: "Yes, there will be. We're rolling out -- we're on a roll."

Q: When will we see the copper switched off?

Quigley: "Deal with Telstra has become unconditional. Once we declare, it'll overall take 18 months, although the CEO of Telstra wants to make that faster. That'll happen as we build the modules, we'll do them one at a time."

Q: Any plans to assist businesses that miss out on the next three years?

Gillard: "I understand businesses will be anxious; put it simply as possible we're determined to get the NBN around the country; we'll be saying to the Australian people that this is a project of significance to the Australian people. You can only do what in the real world you can do. If I could snap my fingers and have every premises connected in a second, would I do it? Of course I would. But we don't live in that world."

NBN Co has a video up as well.



    I hope they make a timeline which illustrates the expected completion of the NBN installation for each suburb.

    I also hope they stick to that timeline :-)

      Doubtful, seeing as they apparently can't even run a press conference on schedule ;)

    The three-year timetable will contain less specific detail than the latest 12-month timetable - last updated in February.

    It's my understanding (we'll know more soon) that only the 12-month timetable actually indicates the month when work is due to start (planning work etc). The standard line is that it will be 12 months from start of work to service availability.

    My town, Bendigo, is hosting the NBN roadshow van shortly. With no roll-out plan at the moment its like a kid allowed to lick an ice-cream, then its taken away from you.

      You get to lick it? I thought was more like being shown it behind glass with a sign saying "Coming soon!"

    To the government's 10-odd year timeline, I have an extremely simple solution.

    Just do my house. Problem solved.

      Then mine!

      2 votes, right there.

    Say, if LNP gets voted in next election, will they still go ahead and trash NBN? Now that QLD's election showed everyone hates Labor, this is becoming a true concern.

      If the NBN gets trashed I'm moving to Japan/Norway/Canada.

        If you don't want that to happen, vote Labor! If the Liberals take the reins, move to Japan. I'm probably moving to Japan to work next year anyways.

      Well since abbot tasked Turnbull to "demolish the NBN", I'd say yes, they will trash it.

      Have a search of the NBN forum on Whirlpool, and you will see this is a very complicated situation; essentially it would be very, very expensive to trash the NBN and try to implement some sort of substitute. Basically, it would cost more to the government to NOT implement the NBN in a reasonable way. If the Coalitiion tried this, it would be pretty devastating politically, considering their main marketing point seems to be "competence" (a point I have found laughable).

      In the end, we won't know what the Coalition will do with the NBN right up until the election; unfortunately it's in the political interest to hide your policies, much to the disadvantage of Australia.

        If they win, expect something cosmetic. It'll still go ahead but any stiff that's currently thought of a government infrastructure will by quickly sold off to "help recover costs" at what looks like a tidy little profit. In reality it'll basically all be transferred free and gratis over to private interests with some superficial, long term grant system or some such which means they will likely never pay anything for it and reap all the profits from the tasty free taxpayer funded prize.

        Welcome to the world of the extreme right wing where the majority are fleeced for all they have and told it's good for them.

          my take is they'll sell NBN CO to Telstra alongside some funding i.e. $1-2b a year compo, make changes to the competition laws to favour the providers who weren't given a 1/4 complete National broadband network, and wash their hands of it.

      If you remember back to the shenanigans in the last federal election (where bob catter was given far too much power than he deserves) the votes for most states were almost completely equal for liberal and labor. QLD, on the other hand, was almost entirely liberal.

      The views of people there are far different to the rest of Australia. They're basically our equivalent of Alabama - strongly conservative, backwards rednecks.

      As such, you can't extrapolate any relevent information from their elections and try to apply it to the rest of Australia.

        I agree J, and we're still more than a year away from the next Federal election. Voters can't remember what happened last week, so issues like Rudd, QLD and other issues won't be on the agenda by then.

        All Labor has to do now is keep their heads down and keep on delivering projects. It's a pretty sad situation that they've actually achieved an amazing amount as a minority government in a short amount of time, but all we hear about from the largely conservative media is how shit they are at everything...

      You have to remember that it's in Labor's interest for you to be scared of Liberals trashing NBN. They know it's popular (generally). Just that Abbott's already shot his mouth off way too many times to trash NBN, he'll have to pay a bit of a political cost to retract those statements. But he also knows NBN is popular, just notparticularly to his own base. What I mean is I seriously doubt Abbott, if he's to be PM, will abandon the NBN. Worst case he'll probably scale it back a little bit to put on a show "Cutting back the wasteful parts" he'll call it.

      Does the 3 year plan make sense now? Labour is trying desperately to spend all the money before it or their election term runs out.

      If the take up rate is less than a third it simly wont' succeed.

    I'm not expecting much from this plan. We all know that the whole thing is going to take nine years to fully roll out. Hell, my area is not even getting the NBN for another 3 years. What are they going to say that will make this whole half cooked plan better?

    I wanna see their damn Gantt chart haha.

    Hell where I live isn't even on any rollout plan currently. Apparently not all regional centres are judged equally.

    If the wingnut actually stops the NBN he will be reviled by every forward thinking person in Australia and possibly the rest of the world. I really hope he stops the negativity train if he gets in, otherwise I may have to send him a nasty letter...err or bullet...in... bulletin, is what I meant!!

    Very happy that all of Canberra will be completed by 2015!

    Sadly, I appear to be in a singular suburb of 'nothing in the next 3 years', surrounded by working on-within 3 years areas.


      Thank God I'm moving in the next year anyway.

      You think that's bad, I am currently right in the middle of "Currently Underway" and "3 Years". Instead of just moving east they are skipping me :(

    And I'm hoping that TPG will enter the NBN game soon.

    Damn it, I'm not getting the NBN in the next three years :(

      What makes you think you are ever getting it? They used to have a page on the NBNco website that listed each suburb and whether they were getting fibre or wireless. Can't find it anymore, now they have a 'coverage map' which is worse than useless (too low scale, no locality boundaries or names). If you don't see your locality listed as being on the current 3 year roll out, don't assume you'll be getting it at all.

    love it all the way to not having adsl in hume area aswell as not being part of the 3 year plan just love it

    "There will be no broadband under Tony Abbot"- What a pile of scare mongering BS

      There will be no NBN under Tony Abbott. I think that's the point.

    Looks like my area will be connected within 12 months :-D

    “The planners had no idea of electoral boundaries. Not even interested — I can assure you that wasn’t even considered.”

    Really? Then the figure of it covering 67 labour electorates and 67 non labour electorates is a truely remarkable coincidence ;)

      Looks to me like they are doing it based on current exchange boundaries. Those are never going to fully line up with electorate boundaries.

    Brisbane's scheduled map looks alot like the electoral boundaries split between Labor and Liberal.... /tinfoilhat

    Currently on 50/20 in Tas. Going back to ADSL would be like going from ADSL back to dialup, it's that much of a difference. I get a faster ping to game servers in Melbourne than people in Melbourne do. It's that good.
    If Wingnut gets into power and decided to "roll back" the existing infrastructure he's a bigger clown than he appears already.
    NBN is like a high-grade addictive substance, once you're on it you won't be wanting to go back to the dirty old common stuff.
    Considering I can run several HD Youtube streams throughout the house on a couple of TV's and computers, have six plus torrents running flat out, download other stuff conventionally, use my NodePhone VoIP connection AND STILL GAME with no effect on ping or available bandwidth... I say DO THAT ON ADSL OR WIRELESS MOFOS.
    I'm just waiting for FetchTV to run properly on NBN then I'll be all over that as well. Next thing people will find is their home network is gonna need some serious attention. Fritzbox for the win, majorly.

      Ollie mate, do you understand the concept of the speed of light don't you? If you have better "PING" than someone living in Melbourne then their provider has seriously bad routing policies. Also not mentioning that gaming uses next to no bandwidth all the things you've said run easily on ADSL.

        Mr Far. I am simply stating a fact, make all the matter-of-fact remarks and theoretical declarations you want. I have NBN, you obviously don't. As I said, you try doing all of those things I mentioned, ALL AT THE SAME TIME on ADSL and watch everything grind to a screaming halt.
        I get 20-23ms ping to Melbourne, and 25-30ms to Sydney. With all the hardware that has to go through, I'm afraid that's pretty fscking amazing considering people from the same state as those same servers get between 30-60ms.
        You sound like a bit of a hater? Maybe we should knock you back to dialup then! Maybe you're just jealous because you haven't got it yet. Sorry bro, I'm going to enjoy every minute of having it.

        Also forget about the miles of COPPER their ADSL connections have to go through? and the fact that not all exchanges are created equal? and the fact that ADSL degrades over distance... and that not everyone lives next to an exchange?
        See, I understand the concept of the speed of light just fine. It's why I love MY NBN connection. Routing policies have schweet fsck all to do with it.

    Even if the ALP do lose the next election the whole NBN would of rolled out to far for the Libs to just stop it dead. Anyway looking on the map it looks like my area will be getting the NBN in phases starting December this year with the last phase in June next year. So I may have the NBN as of Jan next year.

    Woohoo, work to commence for Mill Park / Bundoora from Jul 2012 :D

      Im on the Boundary of the current South Morang Roll Out. And 2 streets away from the current Mill Park rollout. My area of Epping is scheduled for within 3 years. Sucks for me. I have 2 different areas, both 2 streets away

    I'm in Colin Barnet's and Julie Bishops electorate, no wonder I miss out.

    Why the absolute devil is Box Hill/Mont Albert in Victoria not receiving this in the next 3 years.
    *Runs outside and screams.

      Narangba Queensland misses out as well (and bordered on both sides by areas getting it) *Joins Jeff screaming outside*

        I Don't know WHAT WE'RE YELLING ABOUT!!?

      Maybe your suburb has fast ADSL2 service already.

    September 2013 here on my street in my suburb, however the suburb changes when you move a few hundred metres west. When I typed my street with that suburb, they've got no plans for the next three years! Hope that's accurate for my end at least.

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