Coalition NBN Policy: Six Things To Think About

The Liberal/National Coalition has finally announced its official National Broadband Network (NBN) policy, confirming its preference for fibre to the premises and claiming it can deliver this faster than the current Labor plan, without actually making good on earlier threats to dismantle NBN Co entirely. What are the key elements of the Coalition plan, and what aspects remain undiscussed and vague? This is Lifehacker's comprehensive guide.

Tangled cable image via Shutterstock

As we've pointed out many times before, the debate over broadband in Australia is often hopelessly politicised. Supporters of the NBN in its current form treat any criticism of its frequently messy implementation as coming from hopeless luddites; those opposed to it argue it's a waste of money without recognising that there are massive problems with our current system.

Political point scoring does nothing to contribute to an informed debate about how we might actually improve broadband speeds and availability in Australia's relatively unique circumstances (large land area, dispersed population, relatively high areas of wealth, near-monopoly control of existing networks by a privately-owned company.) At Lifehacker, we're much more concerned with the technology than the rusted-on policies of either side, but we can't ignore that aspect entirely; this stuff doesn't happen in a vacuum. So while we're not, for example, going to give much mind to the Coalition's entirely self-serving attempts to compare Kevin Rudd's original NBN plan to its current version (Labor itself repudiated that approach and it's not a relevant comparison six years later), a little politics inevitably enters the debate.

The new Coalition policy, while more detailed than any previous pronouncements, still lacks much of the detail the existing NBN implementation plan offers. To some extent, that's to be expected; opposition parties don't have the same pool of resources or access to the same range of data. But with those caveats noted, here are some key issues to bear in mind and some questions that remain unanswered.

In utterly basic form, the Coalition is claiming that by concentrating on fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) rather than fibre to every individual home (while letting individual home owners pay for FTTP if they wish); by utilising existing cable and copper networks where these are sufficiently speedy; and by picking out individual areas where speed provision is worst for the first rollouts, it will be able to deliver faster speeds to the majority of Australians and to do so by 2016. If such a policy was adopted, what are the consequences and issues we need to consider?

Previous Anti-NBN Arguments Are Now History

Much of the previous anti-NBN rhetoric has centred on four arguments:

  • We haven't seen any solid business case for the need for higher speeds. (Insert comments about how we shouldn't fund people watching YouTube videos.)
  • Any such needs would be more effectively met by private enterprise than by a government-owned infrastructure company. (Insert comment about need to protect all those battlers who chose to purchase Telstra shares, and ignore the periods when those shares were under water during various stages of privatisation.)
  • The growing use and speeds of wireless networks mean we should concentrate on those rather than fibre. (Insert ignorant rubbish from Alan Jones.)
  • The amount of money being spent is simply too high, and we can't afford it. (Insert comments about waste and the GFC and try not to mention Australia's economic performance by global standards.)

Under the circumstances, it's worth stressing this point quite strongly: the new Coalition policy effectively accepts that all those arguments truly don't amount to anything. A proposal which promises a set minimum speed higher than most of us can currently achieve, which maintains NBN Co as the implementation vehicle, which relies on wired rather than wireless technologies, and which uses government funding in the tens of billions, effectively throws all those points in the trash can. (The point about wireless was always rubbish in terms of backhaul as well, but as the policy explicitly suggests fibre to the node, that's a point which has been entirely conceded as well.)

I'm not so naive as to assume that this will be acknowledged by everyone who has previously mounted those arguments. Many of them, especially those of a determinedly right-wing slant, will immediately start arguing that this is a sensible NBN plan and that Labor's is rubbish by comparison. If those commentators truly believed everything they'd said before, then the Coalition plan would be dismissed on the same grounds, as it has the same basic features. But consistency is rarely a feature of this debate, whether that's in the Twitterverse or on talkback radio. We need to move on.

That said, lest I be accused of fighting with straw man arguments, let me point out that opposition leader Tony Abbot has argued in the past that the NBN should have been cancelled entirely to pay for damage from the Queensland floods. A $30 billion NBN might be cheaper to implement than the current Labor version, but if that criticism was valid, it's hard to see how it wouldn't equally apply to the Coalition version at (on each party's numbers) just $7 billion less.

How To We Identify Areas Of Need?

The Coalition has long favoured the argument that we should concentrate provision of faster broadband in the areas where it's needed most urgently. Seems reasonable on face value. What hardly ever gets discussed is the issue of how you identify those areas. It isn't as simple as saying that country areas are worse off than cities. It's undeniably the case that remote areas have lesser broadband provision, but it's also the case that those areas will be serviced by satellite or wireless rather than fibre, and that element of the NBN plan is unchanged in the Coalition vision.

What gets messy are the individual suburbs, where one street address might have HFC cable, the place round the corner only has ADSL, and someone two streets down only has the option of a badly designed pair gain line which is unlikely to be replaced in the near future. Try ringing Telstra today and asking what your broadband options and speeds are at a given address. It won't be a speedy conversation, and the information you receive will often be wrong. And the Telstra experience counts; in many areas you still only have the option of a Telstra line, even if you buy it through another provider.

More than a year ago, opposition MP Paul Fletcher was saying that any approach to the NBN would include a comprehensive audit of speeds available at every Australian address. The Coalition policy states that this data would be collated within 90 days, but gives no indication of how it would be achieved, or how much this data collation would cost. This will be an essential requirement if we're going to actually address the "areas of greatest need", and it deserves much greater detail than we've seen to date.

How Will Cost Blowouts Be Controlled?

NBN Co has been widely criticised for recent delays in its rollout projections, and that has been seized on by the Coalition to argue that the final cost of the NBN will be much higher than current projections. Yet — and we have to make this point again — the Coalition plan does not call for the elimination of NBN Co or a fundamental change in its structure. What processes does it propose to ensure this won't happen with its revised plans, especially since the targets are even more ambitious and require an even higher level of price regulation? Assuming you don't take it as an article of faith that this will happen simply due to a change of government, the detail is a little thin.

Large infrastructure projects often end up costing more than projected. That's not desirable, but the notion that this happens only under one political party seems ridiculously naive.

What Speeds Are We Talking?

The Coalition document talks optimistically of future improvements, but only commits to a guaranteed broadband speed of 25Mbps for downloads. While higher than current average speeds, that falls well below the 100MBps which the current NBN promises to anyone on fibre connections who wants to pay for that speed. Bear in mind both speeds represent a best-case scenario, and most users, as now, will get less most of the time. (The Coalition notes that average download speeds for Australians are 5Mbps, but that's an average figure; many of these people will be on lines theoretically capable of higher speeds.)

Perhaps more tellingly, the Coalition document doesn't mention upload speeds anywhere. That's not altogether surprising: if the connection to the premises is an existing copper line, then upload speeds will always be an extremely poor cousin. That in turn makes the Coalition NBN markedly less effective for data sharing applications such as telehealth. It's this aspect more than anything that justifies describing the policy as "cheaper but less effective". Even assuming you accept that the cost won't change one cent from current projections (an amazingly naive view), it can't be treated as an equivalent when the upload speed isn't even specified.

What Happens With Multi-Dwelling Units?

One big issue with the current NBN is that if the body corporate for a given set of apartments (or "multi-dwelling units" in broadband speak) declines the FTTP installation, there's nothing that can be done without fundamentally violating property rights. This aspect would not actually change under the Coalition arrangements. What would change is that the copper network would be maintained into premises that didn't make that choice, but that absolutely doesn't guarantee better broadband. I'm speaking from personal experience here: I live in a block of units with appalling copper connections. If we don't switch to fibre, I can't see any major improvement coming.

The Coalition policy says it will actively seek "private sector involvement", but doesn't explain how this will help. If a body corporate doesn't want a low-cost to-premises connection from the current NBN Co, why would paying a private company help?

What Will Paying Per-Premises Cost?

A core element of the Coalition NBN plan, and one which shadow communications minister Malcolm Turnbull foreshadowed earlier this year, was the notion that individual homes or businesses could pay for a fibre-to-the-premises connection if they wish. That notion fits neatly into the Coalition's favouring a 'user pays' approach in many economic areas. Whatever you think of that approach, we don't know what it will cost.

The policy says that NBN Co may pay 50 per cent of FTTP rollouts where business or home owners want to pay the other 50 per cent. On current NBN costings, that would cost at least $2000 per premise. It's also worth noting that this figure assumes an entire area is being serviced — if you're the only home in your street that wants FTTP, the figure will obviously be much higher. (In reality, it seems unlikely you'll get that option — this is only going to work on industrial estates or unusually wealthy suburbs).


To restate: It's good to see a Coalition policy, even if it is light on detail in many areas. It moves the potential debate out of "too much money yaargh" territory and into actual questions of implementation, and that's the discussion we need to have if we want to make the NBN a consideration when we vote in the Federal election in September. But as it stands, there are many questions still to be answered. What do you like and dislike about the policy? Tell us in the comments.

Bonus point I didn't originally mention: another factor that the Coalition plan doesn't address is whether we'll still have to pay line rental given the continued presence of copper, as Brendan Brooks points out on Twitter:

WATCH MORE: Tech News


Comments

    This is no different the liberal's last plan.

    Offer slower speeds to less people using older technology for marginal savings.

      Don't forget to mention that it will be completed way - WAY - sooner than Labor's NBN. Labor doesn't expect to finish until 2021 - I can barely imagine that far into the future. Liberals will finish in 2019 - that's practically tomorrow.

      EDIT: I thought I was being pretty obvious, but I guess when you hit a topic like the NBN where everyone expects "the other side" to make stupid and uninformed statements, sarcasm tends to go over people's heads. My sarcastic comment above (as comments below have pointed out) is that the Libs are claiming they can get the NBN completed WAY sooner than Labor can, but in the end they're only quoting 2 years difference. A 13-year NBN vs a 15-year NBN - is it really much of a difference at all?

      Last edited 10/04/13 10:04 am

        I'd just like to point out the difference between your 'unable imaginings' and your 'practically tomorrow' is only 2 years, 24 months, 104 weeks. LOL

          Thanks captain obvious. That's a little thing called sarcasm. welcome to the internets

        Right, completed way sooner with a long term commitment. So into the foreseeable future, forget about high bandwidth technology, it'll be about as good as what we have on mediocre connections now (yes, read the article, think uploads at the very least). While the world moves on we will have made this commitment if we choose to. Fibre on the other hand works into the foreseeable future, and the article clearly states (quite rightly) that FTTH will be out of the question for the average joe under the coalition. While the world moves to HD media Australia will be using tech that won't even be maintained anymore, akin to what we had back in the early 2000's. Few people here have the vision to see the true value of high speed internet to a majority of homes, this is too important to stick in the smoke and mirrors trumped up policy pile.

        Seriously, who in hell thinks Abbott has any hope of doing anything right? Gillard while not the choice of many (most?) has it all over him.

        Wake Up Australia!

        We have a slower network that is there already, so I fail to see the issue in waiting 24 months for a superior network as opposed to cutting corners to get something sooner

        realistically though, theyre going to have so many issues with telstra's rusting copper cables that they'll end up taking the same amount of time and the cost will be ramped up for a sub par product.

          sorry but copper doesn't rust.

            he was talking about corrosion, different term same effect:

            Copper develops a strongly adhering oxide layer, which thickens to acquire the familiar green patina we see on copper roofs. In the presence of atmospheric sulfur dioxide (SO2) the transition from oxide layer to patina is accelerated. In applications such as roofing where the green patina has
            aesthetic value, the increase in formation of patina is desirable.

            This is definitely not the case in electrical system applications where the formation of this thick non-conductive patina is undesirable. Where the greenish corrosion product is
            found on a copper conductor, this corrosion product must be removed by means of a wire brush or emery cloth to ensure low resistance contact between conductor and connector. Nickel-plating and tin-plating are also widely used as means to prevent copper corrosion.

            So you can either go around and clean every copper wire in the country and nickel/tin jacket them so it doesn't happen anymore, else just keep cleaning every few years. Or use fibre to permanently fix said problem and get a better more efficient network to boot...

          THIS

          it would be long winded and not adding to their argument to discuss the foreseeable complications and project blowouts (time and money) that this model will cause

        It's no difference really, if anything its a huge step backwards, especially when the faster option is not faster at all, it comes with a 75% sacrifice in speed, a major cost hike to private residences but a major boon to businesses and the rich (Really Liberals? You didn't think we'd see that one?) and makes the NBN out of reach for the common man, whereas Labors plan puts it theoretically within reach of everyone.

        Last edited 10/04/13 10:38 pm

      If the Liberal's were to develop the telephone network in the early 1900's, then they would deploy copper network to the node and use tin cans and string to connect each house to the node. Why would you want to connect copper to every home, when tin cans and string is good enough? Everyone will be using wireless phones eventually anyway.

        You got downvoted for that? Seriously? It's the best bloody analogy I've seen all day. lol.

          His wireless point was pointless. Wireless is a very limited technology with massive capacity and quality of service problems.

    I think the approach you are taking here is misguided.
    We don't just dismiss criticisms of the NBN because of the Coalition's plan which seems to ignore those criticisms.

    The fact there doesn't seem to be a cost-benefit analysis still exists.

    The coalition plan may have many faults, but it could also be the lesser of two evils.

      Jono, you say it is the lesser of two evils.

      Other than its price and its speed (where a lesser number is bad) how do you feel that it is a better option for Australia.

        Whats the better option for the long term? NBN Co in its current form that will blow out budgets many times over before the end result is even close.... or select a half-assed lesser approach and save some $ that can be used to repay the country's accumulating debt?

        Right now, I'd go for the half-assed lesser approach so that we can protect our economic future

          what? So you think...the coalitions plan....will never be upgraded? Will never need upgrading beyond copper? That copper will always suffice? Laughable....and from a Gizmodo user. The 29billion...copper plan will always cost more when it inevitably has to be upgraded at a later time. Rubbish.

          1. The NBN is vital infrastructure
          2. Why do you think other cities around the world rejoice when they find out that they will be getting a fibre optic network?
          3. A half-arsed approach will waste tonnes of money and not provide the service its supposed to.
          4. The NBN will return a profit to the country.

          The Sydney Opera House blew out its budget many times but can deny its value to Australia?

            1. The NBN is NOT vital infrastructure. It COULD become vital infrastructure if people's pipedreams about telepresence and doctors happily diagnosing multiple pensioners who can barely use the internet as it is over the internet happens. Could it happen within the next 10 years? yes. Is it guaranteed to happen? No.
            2. Because Australian Federal Labor is not the one who drew up the plans and implementing them?
            3. As opposed to wasting a lot of money now so that we maybe get the service someday?
            4. Based on what numbers? The number released so far are not even close to promising.

            The Sydney Opera House is pretty useless overall. I've been there it's not worth seeing. Similar to the Perth Bell Tower (built by libs) that I personally opposed.

            Personally I don't like the Coalition's plan all that much but it's still better than Labor's "throw money at it" plan. Just because they're forced to use parts of Labor's plans because of contracts already signed and work already done doesn't mean the arguments against those are now invalid.

            If somebody's building an unnecessarily high tower then another owner takes over and decides to make the tower lower, they're not going to completely demolish the partially done construction, because that would be a huge waste of money. They'd have to find a way to incorporate the parts that have already been done and modify their plans accordingly, which is part of the reason why the coalition plan is not significantly cheaper than Labor's

              This is the problem. Lack of vision. Pensioners who can barely use the internet now will be replaced by internet savvy pensioners in 10 years. You're attempting to fit the entire internet economy into what's available now which is not what NBN is about, and which seems to be the focus of all this useless debate. Give us the fast connections and this will be the tool for a new breed of Australian exporters and an efficiency catalyst for internal initiatives including health which is a massive load on the country (people need to realise that global initiatives will also mature in the field of health).

              The really silly thing is people want to know what every last little service and initiative is going to be that will justify the cost in advance. Everyone said at the start years ago that the internet and internet businesses were unsustainable. Then when the internet businesses started doing ok, all the critics said that media would bring a swift close to the internet due to an unsustainable growth in bandwidth requirements. Wihtout a fast NBN, the likes of Telstra will deliver bandwidth at an astounding price well beyond our dreams of NBN at a cost that is directed only at successful business. Start from those little things and work forward and use history a bit to start thinking a bit.

              This is a vision that was embraced by Australians as an initiative that was accepted in a VOTE (verified by the polls) and is only disputed by those who have their own agenda to run or those who don't use or understand the 'net anyway.

              Last edited 09/04/13 8:36 pm

              You're right, it's not guaranteed to happen. But if it does happen, and we don't have the technology to support it, well, that's not good. I'd rather take the risk of being able to support new things if they do happen, than take the risk of missing out on big improvements.

              2. Because Australian Federal Labor is not the one who drew up the plans and implementing them?

              We really really want fiber, but the ALP can go and blow itself? Is that what you reckon? That has to be one of the most idiotic comments I've heard about this entire debate. You sound like a petulant child who got sent to bed without dessert, but when mummy came in with a big bowl of ice-cream you tipped it on the floor out of stubborn stupidity.

                All you guys are probably having wet dreams over getting fibre, but are you actually in the designated zones to receive the NBN in the first place?

                I'm not in one of the zones, no plans for +10years so the Labor government can go fk itself as its chosen to give the NBN to its Labor electorates first, then the rest later...

                Regardless, where I am, I'm on Optus fibre and with a 100+Mbit connection, but that's only within Australia. The moment I start downloading outside Australia, it drops to 10-20Mbits..

                So how about we lay some more deep sea international high speed backbones first, then upgrade the local stuff more seriously later..??

                  Because the local stuff is complete shit. What's the point of upgrading international links when you can't utilise them using the current infrastructure?

                  I'm not in one of the zones either, but currently I get < 1.5 Mbps on ADSL2+. Have cable just down the road but Telstra isn't doing anything about that, it's just not profitable. So I'd rather see local infrastructure get installed correctly over the entirety of Australia, even if it does take 15 years.

                  ... I wasn't commenting on the fibre (I approve of it, it only costs a bit more than liberals proposed crapheap, and delivers a lot more)

                  I was commenting on the quality of a post - 'we all want fiber but not from labor'

                  F*** man, read the post you reply to.

                  It isn't coming to you first so you are saying Labor can "go fk itself" talk about false sense of entitlement. It's not coming to me anytime soon either but that's just what happens with things like this.

                  I call shenanigans. Where in Australia gets Optus cable that isn't getting the NBN?

                  Your previous statement is also rubbish. The NBN has been audited by treasury and our debt is rather minor...it will achieve its goals as efficiently as any ther company undertaking a major project. Some blowouts in cost and time due to unforeseen circumstances...some wins to make up some of that defecit and hit pretty close to the overall projections.

                  I'm in a Lib electorate (safe seat for the past 30 years) and scheduled to get Fibre within 12 months.

                  Logically, it makes zero sense for Labor to roll out Fibre to Labor safe seats! They already "own" those seats, so they don't need to pander to them to win them!
                  If you were complaining about Labor trying to buy votes by rolling out into Liberal and Marginal seats to try to "buy" votes, then I could understand the argument..

                  But then, you wouldn't have a petulant argument to make I guess?

              I don't know whether you're a troll or not since you were too cowardly to register but what you fail to realise is that you're looking at things you can't even foresee. Look at the roll out of the original copper network. They used it for telephones and it was hardly used by the whole population at first. Then they started using it for data transmission and faxing, then the internet was run over it! I'm sure it was never foreseen that you would be able to use it for the internet. You can't just look at a piece of infrastructure and be so selfish to think just because you won't benefit from it or 80 year olds won't benefit from it so we shouldn't build it.

              What about your children and your children's children. Would you have liked it if they decided that the copper network wasn't worth it because the people in the early 1900s wouldn't benefit from it? Let's look to the future and think about how its going to benefit society as a whole. You can even see that the speeds that the Coalition is spouting isn't going to be enough. The next technology in television is going to require a 28mbps stream for one single stream! And that technology is already about to be released!
              I'm a dentist and the 3D imaging that is required for my patients will require 500mb files each. I am going to have to upload that data to a backup server as well as a dedicated radiology center for analysis. Doing this on today's internet or even on the internet promised by the coalition is going to be severely crap. This is the kind of stuff of the future that's already here and it's only going to get worse if we don't create the fibre backbone that is sorely needed.

              And I don't want to hear about the crap of user pays for the last mile stuff... if you're going to roll it out, just do it right and do it once... not this piecemeal crap... and don't even get me started on Telstra...

                do you have any type of information on your 28 mbps tv stream will be coming from? you do realise we will still have digital TV and satellite pay TV right? and that is still the way most people watch TV, personally i do stream most entertainment content, my current download speed is around 4-5 mbps and i stream HD movies without any trouble. The coalition plan is to "create the fibre backbone that is sorely needed" fibre to the node is the backbone, fibre to the premises is the foot bone. Also i am not very well versed in the new 3D dental imaging but i know a 3D dental scan with a normal 64 slice CT would be around the 50-60 MB mark i dont see why it would be any higher with the new cone beam dentistry systems?

                  "you do realise we will still have digital TV and satellite pay TV right?"

                  And there is the short sightedness everyone is trying to point out. Typical Liberal supporter, never thought about anyone but themselves.

                  "so i am not very well versed in the new 3D dental imaging"

                  If you have no idea, why bother commenting?

              "4. Based on what numbers? The number released so far are not even close to promising."

              http://www.zdnet.com/nbn-co-pulls-in-au5-2m-in-six-months-7000013489/

              I think a jump from AU$354,000 in their first half of 2012 to AU$5.2 million in the second half of 2012 is quite promising actually. Especially considering the NBN is still in a state of development. I am sick and tired of hearing from the neigh sayers on this matter. If you really think the Coalition's NBN plan is the better of the two and you genuinely can't see the need for this country to invest in a fibre infrastructure, then I'm sorry, but you clearly don't know what you're talking bout.

          Labor's NBN IS our economic future. Protecting and investing in the Labor NBN is the best way to shore up our long term competitiveness, considering how much of our lives will be web/cloud based by 2021...

            Long term competitiveness for what? How can we compete when our Deep Sea fibre backbones are the bottleneck??

          Here's a comment explaining why the Coalition's plan will cost more and Labor's NBN will generate funds/GDP and require less maintenance.

          http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/2078747#r38182220

          By the time the Coalition's plan is complete, the technology will already be outdated (XDSL). All to save 25% of the cost, on top of that you're having to maintain copper which comes at a much higher cost, account for future upgrades to the copper, and you're generating much less money from the network, not to mention it doesn't have anywhere near the economical affect a fully fiber network would have to the country.

          If you don't plan on living longer than 2 years, yeh sure I guess the Coalition's plan suits you best.

          http://simonhackett.com/2013/04/09/cd-syd-2013-problem-with-fttn/

          Edit: Added link of Simon Hacketts (co-founder of Internode) 15 minute presentation on the Coalitions FTTN plan at CommsDay last week.

          Last edited 17/04/13 11:22 pm

            A lot of people will be dead and buried before they even get a taste of the Labor Partys' NBN... the length of time its already taken is just farking laughable!! Contractors milking it to the MAX at the tax payers expense.. Great logic.

              You think this has been a long time for a project so big? We're talking about laying fiber to 92% of premises in Australia.

              Sounds like it doesn't really matter and you've just sworn allegiance to your party.

              It's taking a long time because of the Telstra deal setting things back (which the libs would have to renegotiate and Telstra have flat out said will now cost more) and because they are in testing phases for different conditions so once it starts ramping up they can be efficient and successful.

              You know very little for how opinionated on this you are....I'm starting to you're a troll.

          lol are you kidding.. protect our economic future? Digital infrastructure IS our economic future.

          @cheetah2k you say go for the half-assed lesser approach so that we can protect our economic future.

          No Thanks! a half assed lesser approach could destroy our economy!
          This is the biggest piece of infrastructure in Australia since the Snowy Hydro Scheme, You Do It Once and You Do It Right!!!
          In the long run if you don't it will cost a lot more, what the LNP is proposing (scenario) is to build a beautiful Carbon Fibre House then finishing it off by going bush and acquiring all the rusty tin sheets of old farms and shearing sheds to use as a roof on this immaculate brand new home, it'll get you by for a couple of years with a bit of luck but it won't last long, 10 years ago I had a 10 GB HDD and was hooked up to a 56k modem, in another 10 years the copper wire won't have any capacity to operate effectively in the space we'll be in, history tells us that and with the speed digital and IT technology changes these days (e.g. Windows 95 will still work with a 56k modem but it's useless, the same as copper wire will be in 10 years) also what the LNP plan doesn't take into account and hasn't budgeted for is the fact there's hundreds and thousands of kilometers of copper wire in the system and the LNP don't know how much of this is past it's use-by date or what condition it's in so the cost of this alone not to mention the continuous maintenance on what's usable over the next 10 years could make the cost of the LNP's plan more expensive but useless in comparison with Labors which when completed will be future-proof.
          Malcolm Turnbull said if people feel they need to upgrade from copper wire to optic down the track they can put this connection in themselves at their cost, can you imagine that cost if you happen to live at the end of a street that is one kilometer from the nearest node, I don't know what the cost would be even now but just thinking about it 10 years down the track scares shit out of me, astronomical's my guess???
          As I said earlier with major infrastructure like this You Do It Once, And You Do It Right The First Time, you can't cobble together 18th Century technology with 21st Century technology and expect the most efficient results.

      The Coalition clearly knows that their broadband version is grossly inferior and overpriced considering the technology they will use. They just want to appear to care about improving broadband access to win the election. This will not mask their true mantra, leave everything to private sector. It also reinforce their core character; cheap talk and without any vision for the future. I agree their version is far more lesser and naughtily evil.

        They more than know it. They freely state it..... When it's the other guys policy.

        "if they think a FTTN will deliver high-speed broadband to rural and regional areas, or they are being deliberately deceitful and are trying to trick the public into supporting a plan they know is flawed."
        http://www.fionanash.com.au/Media/MediaReleases/tabid/84/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/213/LABORS-RURAL-FRAUDBAND.aspx

    So how is the Coalitions nbn policy different to the debacle that was Gungahlin in the ACT? It was FTTN I thought? Is there greater back haul bandwidth? This plan just seems like a jumbled mess where labor's was pretty clear. One network to rule them all (excluding the wireless and satellite components which I don't think add much confusion).

    Last edited 09/04/13 5:26 pm

    Well the only fibre i get is all the convoluted comments from all political parties on this subject and it still gives me the S##ts.Build the network the best we can for the future

      And in the future where will we be? Will we actually be able to afford the fastest internet on the planet when we're all unemployed and on the streets begging for pocket change because of the gross economic failures of the Gillard/Rudd government?

        Cheetah2k stick to the crosswords in the Daily Tele! Liberal spent $60 Billion on Collins Class subs that remain stuck in port Every government wastes our tax but we have to back vision and reform like NBN that actually makes a difference

          Actually Collins class sub program was initiated under Labor. Worth reading the below article, just to understand how long large projects take. And always political.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collins-class_submarine

        What country do you live in? Have you seen our economy lately? Lowest inflation, interest rates, and unemployment in decades, and this is while we're in the tail end of an economic crisis that the rest of the world is still recovering from.

        Please do tell us what metric you're judging these "gross economic failures" on.

          do you understand economics at all? Do you know why our interest rates are low? Because the RBA thinks we're in a bad spot, that's why. Wayne Swan in his incompetent glory was so desperate to be able to claim credit for anything at all that he touted it as his personal achievement. Meanwhile the facts are that the RBA is an independent body and they're so worried about our economy that they've been steadily decreasing the cash rate.

          Unemployment is likely to go up, because mining companies are cancelling projects left and right. Yet Wayne Swan thinks he can use them as his personal piggy bank. The bubble has already burst in those other places that's why they crashed. China is starting to slow down and if they go, we're next considering how much we rely on them. The bubble hasn't burst here yet, hopefully we can make the bubble deflate slowly instead of bursting.

            @me. From your post it is obvious you must be a Professor in economics. Yes, low interest rates are a sign of a terrible economy that is why John Howard once said interest rates would always be lower under a coalition government. It is also why everyone loved Keating in the 80s when interest rates were over 15%. According to the Professor, our economy was booming then. In fact, low interest rates is an ideal position to be in when you also have low inflation and low unemployment.

            Right, so it was a good thing when interest rates were at 17% back in the late 80's, the dollar was low and we're no better off now... Mining companies are closing low profit initiatives whilst investing heavily in CSG and profitable projects. Yep, go back and worship the great Tony.

              See? Now your getting it! How hard was that?

              When things are good and people are happy and want to buy stuff, it puts pressure on inflation. High inflation is bad. To counteract this, the RBA puts interest rates up, to make you think twice about buying that second BMW.

              When things are tough and everyone is saving their money for that rainy day, the economy slows down. People stop buying things, stop going to the shop to buy luxuries, they stick to essentials. Business start to fail. people lose their jobs and stop spending money, and the whole thing snowballs.

              When it gets to that stage it’s called "depression". People start to die from starvation. Industry fails, crime escalates. all in all a bad thing.

              That is what makes me laugh when you see a wanker like Swan or Costello in front of the media banging their chest about how they got the interest rates down.

              What they are in effect saying is that they damaged the economy to the point that the RBA has had to step in and counteract their incompetence.

              The only reason Australia didn't go into recession when the rest of the world did, is because under Howard/Costello, Australia built up a large surplus which allowed Rudd to spend heaps of money on infrastructure projects to keep people in work and give them the confidence to go out and spend money.

              They spend money on a new TV or fridge. The person in the shop who sold that TV or fridge sees the increased sales and decides to take the family out to a nice dinner. The waitress, serving the dinner sees the family out and takes her money to buy a new TV or fridge. And the cycle continues.

              Managing the economy has more to do with psychology than it does dollars and cents.

                You liberal fanatics believe any of the spin that gets tossed your way don't you. You've got your heads so far up your arses you don't see that out "crippling debt" is 27% of our GDP, a level that the rest of the world is currently looking at with envy, we are in our 21st consecutive year of economic growth, countries around the world are talking about the "Australian model" and the "Asian Century" as ways to improve their economy and strengthen ties with China and other booming Asian economies. The only thing that kept this country afloat was the spending of the labor party to stimulate the economy and preserve consumer confidence. As such we are at risk of overstimulating the economy and hurting exports due to the AUD getting too high. Rates will be going up very soon, and all because the labor government has seen us through the GFC practically unscathed.

                Infrastructure creates industry and jobs, the NBN is the biggest and most needed infrastructure upgrade this country has needed for the last decade. We're far behind the world in terms of technology and internet speeds, and if we want to keep up we need not only improvements in the short term, but a substantial fiber network that future proofs us. You don't build infrastructure for what is required right now. You anticipate what will be needed in the future and build accordingly. The current Labor plan is a plan for Australia's future, while the coalition plan is barely fit to be called a plan for right now, let alone in 7 years when it's completed. If Tony Abbot is voted in as Prime Minister, it will be the worst thing to happen to this country in decades, we will take so many steps backwards, the rest of the world will look back and laugh at us.

                Ok, you were making sense until you mentioned the "RBA has had to step in and counteract their incompetence..."

                You've demonstrated that you don't understand the difference between fiscal and monetary policy, how they relate to each other and the independence of the RBA.

                Based on your assessment the Labor Federal Government should have spent MORE money to combat the GFC? That way interest rates wouldn't have dropped?

                Or do you support a tightening fiscal policy AND monetary policy to the extent that you force a depression?

                Obviously the Labor Federal Government could have run a surplus throughout the GFC and the RBA could have implemented negative interest rates. Oh wait...

                Costello kept interest rates low because he ran a tight budget in boom times. This meant the RBA didn't have to increase interest rates and Australia was able to pay down debt. Sound management.

                Swan has been more interested in protecting Australian employment from the GFC, which required more government spending. It appears that the RBA agreed Australia needed boosting by lowering interest rates. The end result has been low unemployment levels and controlled inflation. This has all been achieved with moderate government borrowing. Sound management as well.

                The best bit about ALL of this is it has nothing to do with the NBN.

                  Awesome, level-headed summary of the situation.
                  (although I'd argue that Howard/Costello didn't squirrel enough away in the boom times)

                Geez, people like you make me want to leave Australia, but then I remember there are uninformed conservatives in every country.

            If low interest rates are the sign of a bad economy, let the economy go bad, I say. More affordable mortgages are better than less affordable mortgages.

              yeah, that'll help when you're company restructures and you find yourself in the dole cue..

            Hey, you don't need to take my word for it. Just don't take a politician's word for it either, because you're certainly not going to get an unbiased opinion from them - regardless of who's in power.

            What does the IMF think? "Australia has the strongest economy in the developed world and it is expected to outperform all comers for at least the next two years, according to the International Monetary Fund. http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/australian-economy-leads-the-world-20120418-1x6ac.html#ixzz2Q1sXOSOz

            Global fund managers? "Whether you are looking at budget balance or public debt to gross domestic product, whichever way we look at it, Australia comes out exceedingly strong." http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/economy-gets-big-tick-20130116-2ctw9.html

            Overseas investors? "The performance of the Australian economy over the last 2 1/2 decades was phenomenal." Offshore equity fund managers are confident Australia can continue its more than 20-year economic expansion http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/financial-services/strong-economy-continues-to-attract-foreign-investors/story-fn91wd6x-1226595065154

            Our dollar is strong, our stock market is bullish, unemployment is at near-record lows - these are not signs of a weak economy. Divisive politicians will always take figures out of context for political point-scoring, so look for the opinions of unbiased third parties. Particularly right now, our economy is one of the strongest and least-risky in the world.

              Roy Morgan stats show the unemployment rate is more realistically sitting at 10.8%. Don't be food by Juliar's BS statistics measurement tools.... I could work 2 hrs a week and not be classed as unemployed, and then theres all those long term lazy a55 labor supporting unemployed that fudged their way on to the disability pension which accounts for another 2-3 % of the unemployed that never gets accounted for....

              http://www.roymorgan.com/news/polls/2013/4881/

              Last edited 10/04/13 7:44 pm

                My numbers came from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, not a politician. I tend to trust them more than a market research company, since they have nothing to gain from misrepresenting anything (they don't get elected or paid for specific results), but if you wish to consider them "more realistic", suit yourself - just ask yourself why that might be.

                I note you're not challenging the foreign opinions I linked, who also have no reason to misrepresent anything. Here's an appropriate one about how Australians don't realise how lucky they are.

                hahahahahahahhahahaha "Juliar", you Liberals crack me up, you can't let your crazy bias influence all your opinions. You guys get sucked in by the media too easily.

                Why do you say labor supporting? I know a few dodgy people who have what I would call fake disability pensions and they are hard core lib/nat supporters.

        You are expressing your dogmatic political view. Politics and science does not mix nicely. Just look at Tony A, I was hoping that Malcolm would be different but I pity the man trying to sell something I know he does not believe himself. Since you only care about cost, let me give you a good analogy. Wise people will choose Toyota Corolla over Kia Rio. For a difference of few thousand dollars they know they have value for money. Good resale value and lower maintenance cost. Buying cheap thing will cost you more in the long run.

        Yep, take it back to the Young Liberals or whatever you are called now.

    Um, the beginning of this article is a little confusing. Coalition are promoting the use of FTTN, not FTTP/FTTH as mentioned in the introduction. Might want to fix that up.

      Yea me thinks Angus got a little confused...,FTTP/FTTH is the same, FTTN is the evil twin... lol

      https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/32/FTTX.png/300px-FTTX.png

      I am not going to vote for the Libs, was going to IF their plan made sense...

      The LNP's proposed plan worth $30bn doesn't even consist of a Telstra and Optus HFC deal...., so where is the hell is soo much money going ? Absolute waste !, worse than the ALP's spending spree..., reminds me of when Aus were capable of investing in a High Speed Rail network in 1984, but didn't..., now we can't/won't because it costs 10x more...

      Last edited 09/04/13 6:58 pm

    Until the sea lines have been improved fiber is practically useless to us in Australia! Sure you'll be able to access content from Australia at much faster speeds but most content is hosted overseas and you will only see a slight benefit from fiber! Until the infrastructure connecting us with the world is improved fiber is a big waste money!

      Totally agree!!! I've got a 100Mbit connection on Optus fibre which is great if I'm downloading within Australia, but the moment I download from the US or even Asia, DL speeds are in the toilet.... I would guess that at least 95% of downloaded content is from overseas - so.......

        Read Dyls comment....for some educated and non-political biased reading.....cheers.

        Because of how poor our current infrastructure is why 95% of the content we access is overseas. In a fully fiber network, we can start migrating everything here and start to see the content availability we see overseas right in our backyard.

      What you are forgetting is that with our current speeds, there is no real reason for anyone to upgrade those cables. FTTP in Australia will generate that demand.

        Not only that, but higher speeds and lower latency locally might convince overseas entities to set up local versions of their content here.

      Good point, but...the same could be said for the coalitions plan....both will inevitably come to the same dilemma you pose. The solution? Upgrade those lines....or do nothing...what do you prefer?

        BS it's a good point. If you think he has a good point you're as brainless as he is.

      Educate yourself. Our overseas links have improved a lot in the last 5 years, including laying PIPE-1 to Guam, so that we now have plenty of unused capacity, and more cables are in the works.

      Latency won't improve, so that'll always drag our browsing responsiveness down, but there's no shortage of available bandwidth. Infrastructure is not your bottleneck - I'd look to congested backhauls from skimping ISPs instead.

        Latency wont improve untill Australia moves closer to America or someone finds a way to get a signal to go faster than the speed of light.

          Cracker!

          Light can circle the entire planet over 7 times a second... Latency has nothing to do with the speed of light.

          If I hadn't read your economics lecture above I would have assumed this comment was just a joke...

            Nothing to do with the speed of light?

            You are correct that light will travel the 40,075 km 7.4 times in a second. This however assumes that there is a vacuum present.

            Last I checked the transmission lines between Australia and the US were glass fibre. the speed of light through glass is about 200000 km/s.

            The cable distance for Endeavour from Sydney to Keawaula is 9125 Km. Then there is the extra 4000km from Hawaii to the landing point in San Luis. Lets call it 13000km total journey. that gives a time of 0.065 s. But of course that doesn't take into account the return journey to we have a return time of 130ms. This of course does not take into account where you are in relation to Sydney or when the server you are connecting to is in relation to San Luis. If your in say Melbourne, that's an extra 1000km to the journey and another 10ms to your ping time. That’s before you take into account time for the server to respond to your request and send the information you are requesting.

            Tell me again how latency has nothing to do with the speed of light?

              I love the way this is tacked on to the end... "That’s before you take into account time for the server to respond to your request and send the information you are requesting."

              Attributing latency issues in Australia to the speed of light over the distance to the US is the equivalent of attributing global warming to the distance of the Earth to the Sun.

              So I can assume when my latency fluctuates I shouldn't be concerned it is just the speed of light varying???

              Seriously, read a book on economics and another one on networking rather than lecturing people with your crackpot ideas.

                jordan_joyce's original post was that the international calbles are congested and that this is the cause of high latecy to OS sites.

                Since, the link between Australia and the US are not at capacity, well the Telstra link atleast, congestion of the international link would not be the cause of your latecy fluctuations. The Endeavour cable has a 1.28Tb/s but is only running at about 160Gb/s.

                The fluctuations you are reporting are going to be load of the DSLAM you are on, load of the backhaul from your DSLAM to the Sydney landing point, the connection between the landing point in the US and the Server your trying to connect to or the load of the server itself. NOT as sugested, congestion on the international cables.

                So please, before suggesting someone read a book, How about reading the posts in the thread you are posting in.

                On a side note, it looks like local backhaul congestion will be a thing of the past. I won't post the link here because Giz will delet my post if I do but if you do a google search for Sydney to Melbourne Cable upgrade there is a story on a couple of sites, the first one I saw was on smarthouse, showing that the backhaul has much higher capacity than is currently enabled.

                  Dont' worry... I read it all. I particularly liked the helpful feedback you provided:
                  "BS it's a good point. If you think he has a good point you're as brainless as he is."

                  Your contribution to the thread... and actually all comments on this article exhibit the classic symptoms of ignorance AND arrogance.

                  Pull out the economics textbook and networking textbook and get reading. At least that way you'll just be arrogant!

            The speed of light is certainly a major factor in latency when you're talking about satellite links and 72,000km round-trips.

            It's true that it's a much smaller factor in trans-pacific submarine cables - the issue there is more to do with all the retransmission delays. But it's also true that distance is a major factor. Shorter cables require less repeaters, and thus fewer retransmission delays. Technically, both the GP's statements are true, but of course there are somewhat easier ways to reduce latency.

              And that is a balanced and reasonable bit of feedback...

                I could study my entire life and never be as arrogant as you.

                  That's probably true. But at least you'd no longer be ignorant.

      So we have to wait for the rest of the world to be using faster speeds before starting to role out a network that can use it. So we won't have it until.....when, and then it'll cost....$+. That's not to mention the benefits we'd get internally here in Australia in the mean time.
      Businesses would be far more likely to move out of the major cities if communications were good. Thus reducing the pressure on infrastructure. One of the reasons Australia won a slice of the Square Kilometre Array ($2.5bil) project was due to the NBN implementation.
      Everyone needs to sit back and remember what was happening 10+ years ago and how fast things have developed. Its not going to slow down. Governments have to plan for the future for all of us, businesses especially, as they employ us. Australia has always suffered from the tyranny of distance, internally as well as externally. Lets for once change that and install something that can future proof us with a system that's as fast as light!

        Hey, if you have a fireplace , wood stove and candles, why in heck would you ever want the government to waste money on electricity infrastructure?

        j/k

      Until the sea lines have been improved fiber is practically useless to us in Australia!

      Really? My work has 3 servers in a data centre in the Brisbane CBD. They are connected to fibre. The end users all throughout Australia are accessing databases on those servers using broadband in their homes and offices. Most of those connections are ADSL2, several are only ADSL.

      There is a lot of traffic that exists just within Australia. To claim otherwise is factually incorrect.

        I said practically not completely.... But the fact of the matter is people see figures like 100Mbps and go oooo YouTube is going to so much faster or my online gaming will have a lot less lag!

          you need to learn some simple economics buddy... ever heard of supply and demand? What do you think an all fibre network will do to the economics of the international undersea cables? Don't you think we'll become content providers instead of consumers as well... don't you think that these companies that are hosting overseas will see a market over here if the whole country was fibre connected? dont you think that once the fibre is here the market responds to that?

      what improvement is needed? Endeavour is only partialy lit. Its currently running at about 160Gb/s. Its design capacity is 1.3Tb/s. Then there are the other transpac cables which can be upgraded. Do you think that every body in Australia is going to be on 100Mb/s plans? Do you think that those who do go on 100mb/s plans will all be using the maximum speed all at the same time?

      Why do we have to have the capacity to opperate every connection at 100% all at the same time when that isn't what will happen?

      Thats like saying there are a million cars in a city and we have to design roads for them to all be on the road all at the same time all the time. It's stupid and not how business and infrastructure work. Get your idiotic, views back to the mad abbot so he can give you a scratch behind the ears for swalowing his crap without a second thought.

      The biggest benefit from a complete fiber network will be what it can offer to this country and the services it spawns. Hosting will no longer need to be done overseas on the account of it's cheaper, which means we can start to have much more locally stored content. Services such as education and medicine can now be offered online which is something not possible on current or XDSL standards.

      Your reply seems to think fibers biggest purpose is downloading from overseas, which actually sits at the bottom of it's list.

        it's all that swedish porn he's been downloading Xp he thinks everyone does that 24/7

      There's little local incentive for undersea cables to be upgraded while the entire nation is stuck on slow connections. If every Australian had access to high-speed NBN services, the demand for overseas traffic would skyrocket.

      In addition, just because you already have decent internet access, it doesn't mean everybody else does. You are conveniently ignoring the hundreds of thousands of Australian households who are stuck on unreliable and very expensive 3G connections because they can't get ADSL. Not to mention those who CAN get ADSL, but are so far from the exchange, or the copper is so badly degraded, that their data speeds are <1Mbps. For them, the NBN (even the Coalition's half-baked NBN) will be a vast improvement.

        I live in wollongong and run a small business from home in a well populated suburban street. It is 2013 and every time it rains heavily the pit at the bottom of the hill floods and we go without ANY connection for a day or two till the pit dries out and the copper connections stop shorting. Now tell me how FTTN is going to be so much better for me! (BTW there is about 40 houses on our run that go out when this happens.)

      The NBN is for business, so improved trans-Australian speeds will result in a world of benefit.

    Logically, the coalition's plan can not be compared to Labor's plan because Labor's plan has already started. The LNP plan has costings that start from next year, disregarding any cost already spent by Labor's plan. As a lot of the work has already been done, this is disregarding a massive chunk of the cost. Comparing the two without factoring this in is just extremely misleading.

    If you then factor in the costs required to maintain and eventually replace the copper network with fibre, the coalition plan works out to be a LOT more expensive than Labor's current plan.

      EDIT: Sorry, some how replied to the wrong comment. I agree with poedgirl 100%

      Last edited 09/04/13 6:51 pm

        Don't comment if you have nothing to say.

        ummm...she hits the right issues...exactly. More people with her insight and reasoning...should be the only ones voting based on policy.

        Please explain how I apparently don't have a clue. From everything I can see, their costings all assume a start date in 2014. This is therefore disregarding the existing infrastructure in place already by NBN Co.

          Sorry, as edit above. I was meant to reply to jordan_joyce

          Last edited 09/04/13 6:53 pm

      So essentially what you're saying is that the LNP intends to spend more $? Are we talking about the LNP or Labor? LNP isn't about wasting tax payers $....

        The liberal plan...will always cost more as a long term result. It is a very short-sighted plan and in the long term, a grand waste of money. The only way the LNP plan will be fruitful....is if we never upgrade to fiber......ever....this is why it is a stupid, stupid plan...made by a political party with very short-sited ideals that will inevitably cost the public more. Please, take off the LNP delusions to recognise bad policy when you see it.

    The one thing I'm interested in is the idea that monthly fees to consumers can now be $24 less per month. In my view, the NBN wholesale rates for 100mbps are way too high. I can do better on Cable or ADSL so think the libs have a very strong argument in saying
    High speed Internet will remain iunavailable to too many simply because it is unaffordable.

      im not sure what you are saying...

        Saying that 25mbps at half the price NBN want to charge for fibre will provide a decent speed to a lot more people who will not be able to afford the over the top retail rate that Labor's plan had resulted in. Many will just go wireless (eg. Kogan) unless retail prices for NBN are around $30/ month.

          It is a concern, but I imagine prices will continue to drop as they do, each year. Also....fibre will have to be implemented eventually....this is only a temporary measure, unless we become a laughing stock in the year 2025 for business and education.

      Relax its early days yet. 2 years ago I was paying $50 month for a 40GB download limit. Now the same provider is giving me 200GB for the same cost.

        Did you notice though that prices have started going up? On my grandfathered ADSL plan and mobile plans I can't replace them at anywhere near the cost from plans implemented less than 2 years ago on the biggest providers.

        Combined internet, 2 mobile phones with data will cost around $40 a month more with maybe more home data (for the extra cost) and less mobile data (for the extra cost).

        HD content for everyone everywhere HAHA!

      Well, aren't you lucky to be one of the tiny minority who has a choice between ADSL and cable. Most of us have far less choice.

      Under the current NBN you're not forced to have a 100Mbps connection, if you don't want one. If you're happy to settle for 12Mbps or 25Mbps speeds, you can choose that instead and pay much less.

      Current NBN pricing plans for a 12/1 connection are about the same as current naked ADSL plan pricing, for the same amount of data. If you can't get a naked connection (and there are plenty of people who can't) then the pricing for NBN is generally ~$10/month cheaper than ADSL + line rental.

      AFAIK it's not yet clear if line rental is still required under the Coalition's wanna-be NBN plan.

      You're missing the point, it's not just internet, if fibre is everywhere naked DSL voip phones will become prominent since you bundle your phone with your net, and you can essentially call anywhere nationally for nothing including cell phones that are on the same ISP. That's just voip that doesn't encompass the other services that are likely to start becoming more popular such as Ultraviolet for example.

    How has the argument on cost been accepted as not amounting to anything when one of the main points of difference with the Coalition plan is its lower cost? I like that you can talk about "just $7 billion less" but to some people, 'billions' is actually quite a lot of money.

      Yes to you and me $7bil is a lot of money but to a country with the annual income of Australia its peanuts.

        If you use the coalitions figures the difference is not $7 billion it's $60 billion (Labor NBN $90 billion + whereas LNP NBN is $29.5 billion. More than peanuts.

      One plan will be an investment into the country's economy, the other plan will be a vote grabber. Your vote decides what we get.

      The coalition plan logically must have a higher annual maintenance cost because the copper is older than new fibre installations.

      If your plan saves $7 billion dollars, but costs half a billion more per year to maintain it doesn't take long for that difference to be made up.

        Not to mention that every single node (there would be thousands of them) needs electricty to run - and not a tiny bit either. That's an ongoing cost that will grow every year, in addition to the ongoing copper maintenance costs.

      Because that $7 billion extra amounts to a plan that increases revenue and GDP while the Coalitions ends up providing an equivalent service to todays standards, with no extra benefit while having to maintain the costs of Copper repairs/replacement.

      http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/2078747#r38182220

      Refer to the above link for a broken down analysis and why, even if the Labor's NBN was to go over budge, would still work out better for Australia in the long run.

    I'd pay a few grand to get my house connected to fibre. Not only do I want the speed, but I think it would be a good investment in the property.

    How about awarding the contract to contractors who can do the bloody job properly for a start ?

    Sack the current knuckle draggers and find a crew who can do the job.

    Last edited 10/04/13 6:59 am

    Its laughable to think private investment is a better option. In the 10+ years ADSL has been available I still know people in the metro area who are not serviced by ADSL. Some are in ADSL areas but are on a waiting list where no time frame can be given as to when they might be connected. Reasons such as 'a line has to become vacant for 6 months then is is released to the next person on the list' 'your line is too old' 'your line is to long'. Again no time frame or position on the list can be given to the applicant and they seem to see no reason to invest in some areas. What makes the coalition think the private telcos will suddenly spring into action if they won't invest in these areas to start with?

    I am one of the lucky few with telstra cable that can support 100mbit connection. I currently save 10 bucks by running a 30mbit connection instead. I ran the 100mbit connection for a couple of months but 99% of the time I never used its full speed specially for anything outside of torrents. I now run 30mbit and its more than what any average person requires for an internet connection.

      Meanwhile back in 1995

      I am one of the lucky few with telstra adsl1 that can support a 1.5Mbps connection. I currently save 20 bucks by running a dial-up connection instead. I ran the 1.5Mbps connection for a couple of months but 99% of the time I never used its full speed specially for anything outside of downloading pictures. I now run dial-up and its more than what any average person requires for an internet connection.

      STOP. WORKING. ON. CURRENT. NEEDS.

        Tell Tony Abbott that :(

        Would have to be extra lucky to have an ADSL line back in 1995, when it wasn't rolled out by Telstra until 2000 and it didn't even get invented until 1998 ;-)

    I'm just going to leave this here:

    http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/2078747#r38182220

    A broken down analysis of everything wrong with the Coalition's NBN. You should incorporate some of this stuff into your next article.

    I wonder if we can bring this discussion back to practical issues.. why should it cost $2000 to run between the local node and the premises? We have copper infrastructure, whether twisted pair or cable, which has the enclosures and conduits which are perfectly suitable for fibre termination, and we don't need both... A fibre termination panel on the outside of the house need be no more sophisticated than the cable box, and need only terminate 2 fibres. A house cable need only run to a single outlet box in the house for the fibre modem. Total cost of a new installation from the node in the same block would be $300 for cable, pigtails and boxes and $200 for labour using existing access.
    This infrastructure is capable of supporting 50GHz-km termination equipment today, and this number will grow enormously over the next few years. None of this 25Mbps or 100Mbps currently being thrown about is relevant in the medium to long term.
    Certainly there are new skills to be learnt to install and maintain fibre, but it is not rocket science. Any good comms tech will soon be stripping fibre cladding with his old wire strippers and snapping on mechanical splices with the best of them...
    Can we just put aside all the old vested interests and get on with the job of providing a future for Australia?

      The biggest cost with running fibre is pure labor. Fibre termination is substantially more difficult and fiddly then copper termination which is basically punching down copper wires onto a block.

      Also fiber needs to go further than to outside of the house, it will need to be run to the local router.

      Finally off memory of some of the original nbn installations they installed battery banks and a couple of other things to allow the telephone to work in the case of a blackout.

      I believe they also had some local phone termination box to allow the copper lines to work with phone calls ??

      All in all i think $2000 sounds about right. likely two well skilled contractors a full days work + 600$ worth of equipment.

    So while we're paying less per month for the Lib's Internet, we'll still end up paying for line rental on top of that?

    I've been wondering for a long time now what has happened to the CSIRO's plans to utilise the analogue TV network when it is switched off....

    http://www.csiro.au/en/Organisation-Structure/Divisions/ICT-Centre/Broadband-coming-wirelessly-to-the-bush.aspx

    Broadband delievered wirelessly to everyone who could previously pick up TV via the old analogue network, assuming decent speeds could be achieved, would render this whole debate mute.

    And save taxpayers a bucketload.

    CSIRO invented a lot of existing wireless technology, they deserve a lot of credit in my book. We should be funding a lot more research and development in this country.

      Wireless is a fine short-term solution for remote or sparsely-populated areas, and the analogue TV frequencies are near-ideal for this, with a good balance between penetration and capacity.

      That said, analogue TV reception frequently sucks in rural areas. Wireless bandwidth is still divided among all users, it still suffers from weather interference and dropouts, and will never have close to the speed and reliability of fibre. Eventually, even the remote areas will have to get wired.

    There is a pretty comprehensive write up about the differences here http://www.abc.net.au/technology/articles/2013/02/21/3695094.htm

    It is a good read but a bit too long for me.

    My house literally shares a fence with my telephone exchange, and my DSL sync speed is already 20 Mbps (with a conservative SNR margin).

    I'm wondering what this FTTN model would mean for my situation? That is, there's no need to connect my premises to a Node, however the exchange will ultimately only have fibre feeding into it (from the Nodes). This means that instead of my current copper running around the corner to the exchange, it'll likely end up running off in the opposite direction to the nearest Node, which will presumably be further away from my house than the exchange (to maximise the number of premises seerviced by the node). So ultimately my connection speed may very well decrease under a FTTN model, that is unless the exchange itself also houses a node specifically to accept copper connections from premises in the immediate vicinity of the exchange. Hopefully this will be the case....

    So the Libs are going to spend money to do what Telstra was always going to do in any case? While Labor was going to waste a lot of money on something that Telstra would likely have done in the same timeframe to maintain market postion.

    All I want are some good actaul real life reasons as to why Australia actually needs to waste all this money.

    Also Gizmodo, your politics is shining through!

      There are only two sure things in life: death and taxes.

      The NBN will be revenue positive.

      Why do you think Telstra, a private company, would've paid to run a fibre optic network across the country?

      The copper network is dying and will need to be replaced. Is that a good enough reason for you?

      The promotion of a better technology is not proof of any political bias.

      Labor was going to waste a lot of money on something that Telstra would likely have done in the same timeframe to maintain market postion.

      No, Telstra was never going to commence a nation wide fiber roll out. In fact, they would have never done anything unless directly threatened by another competitor and no other competitor is close to doing a nation wide fiber roll out. Telstra's best interest are their share holders not customers, it means profit over satisfaction. It's the reason I'm still stuck on a RIM with ADSL1 speeds.

      It is much to profitable for Telstra to maintain the copper monopoly they have to willy nilly spend billions commencing a nation wide fiber network. What's worse is that with the Coalition's NBN, it's still going to be maintaining the copper network which is a huge money sink in itself in repairs/replacements. So although the upfront cost appears to be cheaper, you're spending much more maintenance/repairs on a network that is only capable of producing 25% of the results we'll see with a fully fiber network, and on top of that you have to commit the funds sometime in the future where you eventually have to upgrade to fiber.

      On top of that, the Coalition's NBN doesn't offer any of the economical wonders that come with a fully fiber network which will in turn increase revenue and GDP.

      To put it real simple:

      Coalition: $5 upfront cost, $1 in repairs, .50 cents revenue, 25% effeciency. Large future upgrades required. Small economical advantage. 2 years shorter.

      Labor: $7.50 upfront cost, 0.75 cents in repairs, $1 revenue, 100% effeciency. No future upgrades required. Large economical advantage. 2 years longer.

      So in the end they've achieved their goal. They can say to the public "This is cheaper and it'll be delivered quicker" but so much has been sacrificed in that little advantage.

      Last edited 10/04/13 2:41 pm

        Overall i agree with a fibre to the house implementation,

        But every network has a maintenance cost, i would be interested to see actual numbers supporting what the cost of maintaining the copper network would be vs the cost of maintaining the fibre network would be. (note that one needs to include all associated factors and the nbn off memory has more bits client side in their box then the copper network does)

    I live 4km (as the crow flies) from my local node which is probably shorter then the copper cable takes to get to my house. I live within the borders of a sub-exchange and the connection speed is horrendous. If the Coalition go ahead with this, even if my local node gets NBN connection, it will travel along the copper cable and give me the same speed I've always had. Sure, the current system is going slower than normal but I'd rather be patient for a fast internet connection, then get little to no change in a shorter time. Coalition, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    To put a simple analogy, The Coalition will use the brand new Highway just built for you to get to your suburb, but, to get to your home you will have to take the same dirt road built for horse and cart. Infrastructure is critical to a nations economic success and its citizens quality of life. When bigger ships were built for exporting goods, bigger ports were built. When cars and trucks improved abilities, better roads and transportation hubs were built. When mobile phones improved and more people used them for business and personal needs, better tower infrastructure was built. Computers are thoroughly intergrated into all facets of our lives today. Internet is now!..not the future! Whatever the cost, it is essential to our economic and way of life that this Infrastructure be built now, with the foresight to the future.

    Last edited 10/04/13 1:56 pm

    Has anyone released the speeds of the LNP plan if you pay to have the FttP installed? This is the actual key factor for me. They should release that information, if it's normal fibre speeds (I guess there is no reason it wouldn't be) then why is everyone blowing up? We will still have a high speed fibre connection you'll have to, shock horror, pay for YOUR internet connnection, YOURSELF with the money YOU earned from YOUR job.

    Last edited 10/04/13 2:35 pm

      It will be that same speeds as a normal fiber connection. But they haven't really told you what is required of this to happen. Depending on how many people in the suburb are wanting to pay for a FTTP option, will depend on how much the cost will be to each person.

      So for example if you are the only person in your suburb wanting the FTTP option then you're looking at thousands of dollars in instillation fees. Depending on how far away from the node you are then you could literally be looking up to $5,000-$10,000 for it. However, if a lot of people are wanting it in your suburb then you may be able to get away with a $1,000-$2,000 installation fee.

      Incidentally, this is the same reason many international companies do not want to set up base in Australia. Many large corporations require HD conferencing, which requires a fiber connection to support, which is a very expensive installation/monthly fee in the current network.

      It's another reason why FTTH has been shown to increase GDP.

      Source: http://www.nbr.co.nz/sites/default/files/images/BellLabsWhitePaper.pdf
      Source: http://www.wrs.govt.nz/assets/WRS/Projects/WGNDOCS-865780-v1-Broadband-BERLreportonGDPimpactsofearlyUFBrollout.pdf

      good point, but what if it's a ridiculous price. I heard $2000 for FttP damn that makes it an expensive internet. Unless you paid it off like a phone contract extra $15 per month but even then it would take over a decade.

        Well until the full price and speeds of the LNP FttP is released I can't make up my mind, as I do not have the full picture. But the facts as they are, the ALP NBN is obviously better. I however have no issue with us paying for the top tier ourselves.

        Last edited 10/04/13 5:11 pm

      BT (formerly British Telecom) are currently working out the prices for their own scheme to allow on-demand upgrade from FTTN to FTTP. At the moment it's looking like there will be a flat 500 quid fee, plus a variable fee ranging from 200 to 3500 pounds depending on the distance from the node to the premises, plus 500 pounds a year line rental, plus VAT. They predict the typical cost will be 1500 pounds.

      So $A 3000 would seem like a decent ballpark at this point.

        OK if you live in Strata or plan on staying in your house for a long time. That line rental fee is fucking nuts, I doubt we'd have that here since once it's connected it's connected. The UK has weird telecommunications costs though, their mobile is ludicrously cheap. A grand would be about my limit as long as speeds are 1Gpbs.

    There's a few things here to consider if they haven't been discussed already...

    As someone who was personally instrumental in the development of a fibre loop within a metropolitan area, the benefits have been outstanding for the corporate clients connected to it. So there's no denying the benefit of a FTTH network for those that require that level of service. However people seem to think that there is almost zero maintenance cost to fibre which is incorrect. At the time we were continually repairing issues with the loop, all quite costly. So although it's not as costly as maintaining an old copper infrastructure, it won't be as cheap as suggested.

    Everyone having 100MBIt is awesome, except for the lack of bandwidth for the majority of our data use - international. Unless the plan includes a massive undersea cable upgrade, I can foresee data bottlenecks becoming a real problem when a 5 million connections want international data simultaneously.

    I don't understand why we aren't seeking private investment in the project. I know that everyone can say that we don't want another Telstra, however surely this can be negated? Google is rolling out fibre in US cities and offering outstanding pricing to customers. The initial tender process called for FTTN and was thrown out by the Rudd Govt before presenting their own FTTH plan. Why not seek tenders for FTTH for the various geographical locations/cities across Australia? Use the ACCC to regulate pricing, offer subsidies, etc.

    I understand we are talking 'future-proofing' but with a large number of households moving away from the traditional fixed line services, how does spending so much to connect everyone benefit us all? I know the point is to get rid of the dated copper network, but surely not everyone requires FTTH? Yes and I do realise that there is a limit to what wireless technology can do, but that is only currently. Surely as tech improves so will the reduction in these limitations?

    There must be some form of compromise here that reduces the overall cost to the taxpayer while allowing those that want the extra to spend on it?

    My two cents. Feel free to flame me but just trying to find some rationality here.

      I think the main argument is the maintenance cost of Copper vs Fiber. I haven't seen many people argue that Fiber itself is cheap to maintain.

      Everyone having 100MBIt is awesome, except for the lack of bandwidth for the majority of our data use - international. Unless the plan includes a massive undersea cable upgrade, I can foresee data bottlenecks becoming a real problem when a 5 million connections want international data simultaneously.

      Why is a majority of our data use international? Because we do not currently have the infrastructure in place that allows us to compete on pricing for data storage in our backyard.

      A national fiber network would mean we would slowly start to see a majority of content we download coming from our backyard and not overseas, as people start finding it cheaper and easier to host content in Australia.

      ___________________________________________________________________

      Google is able to do so as the density of American states (in comparison to Australia) allows it be quite profitable for a private company to take upon themselves. Remember they have 10-15 times our population.

      I understand we are talking 'future-proofing' but with a large number of households moving away from the traditional fixed line services, how does spending so much to connect everyone benefit us all? I know the point is to get rid of the dated copper network, but surely not everyone requires FTTH? Yes and I do realise that there is a limit to what wireless technology can do, but that is only currently. Surely as tech improves so will the reduction in these limitations?

      Actually this isn't true. Fixed line continues to grow and actually outgrows Mobiles each year.

      Source: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/8153.0Chapter8Jun%202012
      Source: http://www.nngroup.com/articles/nielsens-law-of-internet-bandwidth/

      On top of that, FTTH doesn't actually make any sense in Australia.

      Source: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=ecita_ctte/completed_inquiries/2002-04/broadband_competition/report/c04.htm

      There must be some form of compromise here that reduces the overall cost to the taxpayer while allowing those that want the extra to spend on it?

      There doesn't need to be though. With the GDP and revenue growth that a complete a national fiber network offers, and the reduced maintenance cost in comparison to FTTH network makes the extra cost quite negligible in the long run.

      In fact, even if the NBN blows it's budget, it could easily still be viable

      Source: http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=2015334&p=99r1971

        Your link to that Parliamentary Inquiry into Broadband Competition was interesting. It's from 2004, so some of its facts are out of date, but I found this passage of particular interest:
        One alternative Telstra outlined was that the existing network could be upgraded to provide very high-speed DSL by replacing parts of the existing CAN with optical fibre. However, it said that that architecture [FTTN] was unlikely to provide a sufficient increase in speed for long enough to justify the cost of its deployment. The more likely alternative is that a passive optical network, which delivered data to the home over an optical fibre, would be deployed.
        (Emphasis added). Seems even Telstra agrees; FTTN won't be fast for long enough to be worth the money.

        And that was in the early days of ADSL2, when copper had more headroom. Now that even VDSL2 is still limited to 50Mbps at 1km, we're a lot closer to the maximum we can squeeze out of FTTN, and it makes even less sense.

      Not trying to disagree with you or anything, but your comment about wireless gets repeated so often. Saying wireless technology will improve implies that wired technology won't. Surely the same technological advances to come which improve wireless technology will be matched, if not bettered by advances in wired technology. The argument seems moot.

      We aren't seeking private investment because that would jack up the price. The government, with its AAA credit rating from all three major agencies, can, through the issuing of bonds, borrow more money more cheaply than any private company in Australia. It's also in a position to be satisfied with a lower rate of return than a private company would need to achieve - they're targeting 7% as opposed to something more like 14%.

      The undersea cable thing is a furphy. Firstly, though local content caching declined during the early days of Web 2.0, video is something like half of all internet traffic these days, and video is perfect for local caching. Secondly, increased demand for undersea bandwidth will drive supply of it, as has always been the case.

      Lastly, wireless is never going to be the answer. Two years ago, wireless broadband connections were 40% of all internet connections in this country, but moved just 9% of all data. Now, wireless connections have risen to be 50% of all connections - but they now move just 5% of all data. Wireless is, and always will be, complementary to fixed line, unless it is built out nationwide to the same scope and scale as the fixed wireless rollout under the NBN, which would be utterly uneconomical.