What Happened With The NBN This Week?

The Federal Opposition hit back at the Government this week with its own plan for a national broadband network, but there's a bit of an issue: it's incredibly vague and cross-bench MPs like Rob Oakeshott are warning it might not save that much dough in the end.

The Coalition's plan for broadband was included in its Real Solutions manifesto issued over the Australia Day weekend. Within the 27-page document, only a few words are said about broadband:

Delivering more affordable broadband — rolling it out faster

• The Coalition will deliver high speed broadband that is both affordable for families and businesses and cost effective for taxpayers
• We will for the first time do a fully transparent cost-benefit analysis of the National Broadband Network, to find out the quickest and most cost-efficient way to upgrade broadband to all areas where services are now unavailable or sub- standard. This is the cost-benefit analysis Labor didn’t do before committing to spend tens of billions of dollars on the NBN.
• We will roll out super-fast broadband using whichever is the most effective and cost efficient technology and we will use existing infrastructure where we can.
• We will roll it out faster to high priority areas.
• We will end billions of dollars of wasteful spending on the NBN and deliver more of the modern infrastructure we urgently need while encouraging competition wherever possible to put downward pressure on prices.

There are a lot of unanswered questions here that we hope to have cleared up in the road to the election in September.

No matter how vague, some are warning it might not save that much at all. Independent MP Rob Oakeshott has warned that it might only save $5 billion on the $37.4 billion build cost estimated by the National Broadband Network Company.

Meanwhile, our thoughts go out to those affected by the Queensland floods this week. Telcos and the NBN Co are still fighting to get services back to the area. Stay safe, folks.



    Did I read that right? Warned it may only save 5 billion? I suppose when you haemorrhage money like the current government does it is only chicken feed. I can't want until September.

      haha good one, it will be a close election or Julia will win, don't get your hopes up too high.

      Coalition already announced that it's putting a 15% income tax on anyone who earns below $37,000 if it gets elected.... they're already trying to screw things up, why would you tax someone that's barely making enough money to live????

      You need to stop reading News ltd and get educated about both parties, you will see Labor is easily the better one.

        And the coalition in government is going to forego/slash expenditure while introducing the world's most expensive childcare leave system, saving money on the NBN with their own Fibre to the Node system but not accounting for the costs of the nodes, etc., etc, etc.

        Time to stop believing in the fairies that live at the bottom of Tony Abbot's garden I think.

        currently someone earning $18000 - 37000 are taxed at 19%. Now I'm no math wiz like you but isn't the coalitions stated $15% LESS than the current rate?

        Want to go away and rethink your possition or have the unionists completed their brainwashing of you?

          Hey Tony, is that you? While what you said is true, it will be EVERYONE earning under $37,000, not just people earning over $19,000. Try again Tony.... that means 3.6 million people in Australia will now be taxed on their already unliveable wages. http://www.wealthprofessional.com.au/article/more-superannuations-in-the-firing-line-148349.aspx

            Hi chestbrah. Why dont you try reading the article you quoted. There is no income tax being brought in, only the scrapping of a Superannuation Subsidy. It even says it in the link u provided. But I suppose thats the Labor way. Dont let the truth get in the way of a good story.

      Remember it might save 5 billion now, but in 2 years when the service is not up to scratch you need to pay roughly the same as the initial investment, so you save 5 billion now and pay 34 billion in a couple of years as is happening in NZ and UK where they went the way the Coalition would like the NBN implemented.

      Also Australia by virtue of distance has more to gain than those countries. With the technology being implemented now, the majority of office workers can realistically work from home (not that they should, but they can). That will not be possible due to the technology the coalition wish to use due to data volume issues.

      Once you start reducing the effect of traffic and travel on the community, so much other wasted expenditure becomes uneccesary. New roads, new public transport. All can be made unneccesary. And in fact governments will have complete control of this, as their labour forces are big enough that mandating a single day working from home per week for employees will reduce traffic and congestion that huge swathes of infrastructure won't be required. And large amounts of interstate travel.

      The problem here is that the analysis proposed was confirmed by Malcolm Turnbull to not include projections of savings in other policy areas as a result.

      Yes, you did. The opposition's vapourware plan will save 5 billion and provide Australians with deprecated technology.

      The NBN is vital future-proof infrastructure which Australia needs.

      I agree it still sounds big, if considered out of context. In context, it's calling out the hypocrisy of the Opposition. They've been hammering the Government for wasting $40 billion dollars of taxpayer's money - an amount they've repeatedly claimed is enormous. But their plan will still cost $35 billion. As opposed to Turnbull in November last year saying of their plan:

      If you were starting from scratch without any of their existing contracts we know it would cost about $15 billion to do the whole job

      After that, Turnbull talks about the cost going up because of existing contract commitments. The Computerworld article also mentions a BIS Shrapnel report costing the maintenance of the copper network would cost $700 million a year.

      Yeah! Can't wait till we get a government led by a technophobic moron who couldn't explain anything about his NBN policy before the last election and constantly mumbled that he wasn't "technical".

      Please Liberal - country hick coalition, can you dump this moron Abbott and bring back Turnbull? Then we can all actually feel good about a coalition government and not have to cringe every time Tony "foot in mouth" Abbott is representing us overseas.

      Why anyone on a tech site would want that short-sighted idiotic technophobe Abbott as PM is bewildering. Yeah the NBN is expensive, but it's a vital FIXED COST piece of infrastructure that will only become more expensive the longer it's left.

    The most worrying part of this plan (besides it being incredibly vague) is this line: "to find out the quickest and most cost-efficient way to upgrade broadband to all areas where services are now unavailable or sub- standard." The way I read that is that they will upgrade areas so that they meet the current standard. The problem is the standard is 20 years behind the rest of the world. Upgrading the whole nation to Fibre Optic may be expensive at the moment, but it has been proven to be the world leading technology at the moment, and has also been proven to be upgradeable for future technological needs.

    Tatiana, perhaps you need to see how much governments spend annual...5 billion IS chicken feed..

    Personally I consider pretending to 'save' 5 billion just to win votes by picking technology (FTTN) that experts unanimously call outdated and needing of upgrading in 10 years (and thus ultimately costing in the end far more than FTTH from the start) I MUCH MUCH bigger waste of money..

    Look past your blind politically ideology, thoroughly educate yourself on the intimate aspects of FTTH vs FTTN, listen to the experts and maybe just maybe you might start looking past the liberal propaganda you and many others so religiously follow. Look at projects based on their merit not whatever rubbish the politician of your choice feeds down your throat...

      Wow. I'm definitely not a liberal zealot. Seeing the over the top responses to my brief comment shows the labor lovers are as aggressive as the party they support. Anyone who isn't wih them is an enemy.

      I can't stand Gillard and her cronies AND I don't care for Abbott and co.

      A flippant remark about the value of 5 billion to a politician does not merit some of these comments.

      For the record, I do not believe the Internet being faster/reliable is a human right that any government should pay for. I don't live in ignorance or ignore experts because I have a different opinion than rich labor stooges.

        I'm laughing at your thin skin, I think it's your response that is WAY over the top. In no way were the responses to your first (false) post in any way inappropriate. If you have a problem with people correcting your factual mistakes I suggest try to avoid factual inaccuracies in the future.

        However, an infrastructure that Australia needs when the mining boom is over is a necessity that either side of government CANNOT ignore. To be honest, the sticking point isn't the NBN here, it's the problem of cost. The Liberals are quite happy for them to waste money on another CBA when clearly they don't need to. All the other reports by KPMG-McKinsley and as well as Allen Consulting confirm the NBN must be built and feasible today. Read that last section again, FEASIBLE, meeting costs, whatever. The reason why it costs so much is because of short term costs like labour costs, material costs (fibres and the boxes) and as well as fixing the infrastructure that was neglected for ages. Once that is done, it'll be a snap to recuperate those costs with the services invested into the network. This include services to rural areas, bringing the country closer in the standards of living.

        Wasting money into another report only shows how inept they are in realising the situation. Also, where is the details of their NBN plan? Apart from their stance on FTTN (which is completely outdated in today's standards), they haven't said anything else. I'm worried they'll try and get the private sector to develop this network. It won't happen as no company would be willing to invest so much for it all. It'll be financial suicide. And if there is a company that will, the company will leave our government picking up the pieces. Example, see the Cross City Tunnel and the mess the government had for that.

        In terms of the technological level, we are way behind many other countries. The ability to host services and expertise long after the mining boom is over will be what we should be looking forward to. New Zealand is beating us in terms of this. So unless you're happy to live with your copper landlines and keep mining for another decade, feel free to do so. I won't as I want progress. Not sitting on your hands and not doing anything about it.

        And just in case you think I'm pro Labor, I'm definitely not as I hate politics. I don't agree with Labor due to their arrogance but the Liberals are just as bad as they're content in leading Australia into the past instead of looking towards the future. Both sides want to believe the mining boom will continue indefinitely when that isn't the case.

        "For the record, I do not believe the Internet being faster/reliable is a human right that any government should pay for. I don't live in ignorance or ignore experts because I have a different opinion than rich labor stooges."

        No one said it was a human right, but then neither are highways or power lines, that doesn't change the fact that they're all vital pieces of infrastructure that are paramount for a 21st century economy to be competitive.

        People who say "oh, my mobile internet is fast enough" and "I don't need fibre optics level speed" are missing the point and don't understand just how all-encompassing this technology is. No, it's not a human right, but it's a public goods infrastructure project that will become increasingly important as the century wears on. And before anyone trawls out Abbott's intensely stupid line about fibre optics becoming "outdated", can you please first explain how you're going to break the light barrier to do that?

          I am extremely pro NBN as labor has designed it, the libs will f**k it up as usual but i have to correct you on a point.

          stupid line about fibre optics becoming "outdated", can you please first explain how you're going to break the light barrier to do that?
          Its not inconceivable that the optics will be outdated, but not for a long time, but its got nothing to do with the speed of light, electricity travels at the speed of light through a wire yet optics is much faster. Its about how much information you can squeeze into the wire at the same time, and optics can carry more info at the same speed than copper. Of course optical switching is also faster than copper switching for other reasons.

          But it is still stupid to think that we shouldn't deploy it because it will be outdated, why build any roads, they will be outdated as soon as safe flying cars are invented, we could save trillions over the course of the next 100 years.

          Once NBN is fully deployed id love FTA tv to stop being broadcast over radio waves, and do it via NBN (without being counted to any download limits), free up that spectrum for more important things.

        In parts of Europe "broadband" is legislated as a human right. We say the same for "telecommunications" now which is why we have the ABG etc. It's in our constitution.

          Yep. Tell that to starving children in Africa, or people being exterminated in Syria. I'm sure they're concerned with your "human rights".

            Don't shoot the messenger. I was just stating facts.

        labor lovers are as aggressive as the party they support

        I don't support Labor. I support the NBN. Whoever supports FTTH gets my vote.

    The coalition will keep us in the dark ages of communications. They aren't looking at the long term plan at all. It's highly doubtful that if Labour got back in after the Libs have a go, that they would try and bring the NBN back. I really hope that labour can either hold on or at least keep enough seats, so that with the help of the independents they can force Mr Rabbit to keep it going. I actually hope they have a spill and put Turnbull in charge. And yes I know he is against the NBN but I can stomach him a lot better than the current tool in charge!

    Labor + NBNCo: Doing it properly from the get-go.
    Coalition: Let's just chuck a few bandaids on and she'll be right mate.

    I notice there's no iron-clad commitment there to do anything differently, really. The first four points don't require any change to the roll-out per se, other than potential shifting of dates.

    The last point doesn't even say they'll spend less, just that they'll "end billions of dollars of wasteful spending", i.e. spend it "better" (and potentially flog bits of it off to the private sector). All they'd have to do is produce a CBA finding that over $2bn spent on some things should be spent on different, not "wasteful" things, and voila, mission accomplished. Technically, they could even increase the NBN spending, and still meet those commitments.

    Last edited 01/02/13 3:01 pm

    I'd like to put in here that back in 2007 Telstra went to the Government with a plan to provide 50mb/s speeds to 98% of Australians at no cost to the tax payer.

      You are talking about the 4.7billion NBN tender. Telstra put in a non-compliant 12 page submission that only covered 80-90 percent of the population (major cities), not 98% as requested by the government.

      Last edited 01/02/13 3:54 pm

        Ah. NO. This was back before that. Telstra's pulling out of the negotiations for this NBN triggered the request for proposals that your referring to. I think it may have been started even earlier. Possibly as early as April/May 2005. But not certain. Doing a search for Telstra and FTTN for that time period is drowned out by all the G9 BS.

        I was quite active on a forum around the time that talked about the different types of technologies that could be used, the pros and cons of each, the performance of each and if/how they could be upgraded to FTTP when the time came.

        Needless to say some things stated in a lot of places about the abilities of FTTN and its "upgrade-ability" are incorrect or make assumptions on the equipment what Telstra was going to be using.

        The "12 page submission" you refer to was never submitted to the NBN tender process. Telstra publicly stated that they would not take part. The submission you refer to was an alternative submitted to the government. It was in no way intended to be a comprehensive, all inclusive submission, but an alternative to the Government's proposal.

        Either way, Telstra wins. NBN goes ahead as planed, Telstra wins. The mad abbot wins, Telstra still wins. Possibly bigger.

        So the extra 8% has cost us a further $40 billion dollars. Good job, good job.

          Incorrect, as mentioned above it was only a stop-gap before FTTP. No matter what course of action you take FTTP is going to have to be paid for anyway. Doing it via the NBN takes away intermediary steps and also takes the power away from Telstra, competitors are basically on the same level field as Telstra under the NBN.

    I reckon that the Liberals should support the NBN, they'd probably get more support.

      The truth is, there is SFA the coalition can do about the NBN. The government has been busy signing binding contracts for parts, equipment and construction work to complete the vast majority of the NBN.

      I would bet, looking at how Labor operate that the contracts will be for areas that are marginal, while coalition strongholds will be on the list that are still to be signed. It will put Abbot in the position where he will announce that he will be blocking work in areas that would normally vote coalition to save money while areas that would vote Labor or are undecided will be told that the NBN will be going ahead regardless of who wins on September 14.

      The NLP have nothing against the NBN, just a dislike for a shameful waste of public money, with no scrutiny on the cost or the executive bonuses paid for failing KPI's. So it's blown out, behind schedule and these people give themselves bonuses? Who's running this, the AWU, Craig Thompson? Unions LOVE the NBN. Wonder why. Follow the money, theres your answer. Labor hate anyone getting rich, unless you're a union boss or labor party mate.

        Partisan trash - about as useful as when the other side says that the Libs hate anyone who isn't a billionaire and wants to force poor people to eat dirt.

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