Turnbull: Our Broadband Plan Could Cost Same As NBN, But With A Catch

The Coalition is running its broadband plan up the flagpole as a cheaper solution for nation-wide high-speed internet that will be delivered to us faster. It's interesting to note, however, that the architect of the policy, Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull is now saying that the cost to connect each home could end up being the same as the price it is to connect to the government's National Broadband Network (NBN), sort of.

Turnbull's plan will see the nation connected to high-speed broadband via a fibre-to-the-node strategy. That means that instead of running fibre down every street to every home in Australia like the Government's more-expensive fibre-to-the-home plan, fibre broadband will be run to boxes or "cabinets" at the end of just about every street. The last-mile between the node and the home will be connected up via the existing copper network so as to save some cash and get broadband delivered faster.

The Coalition has said that its plan will cost the country $29 billion compared to the Government's planned $37.4 billion, mostly because the Coalition's plan cuts down on labour costs.

The Coalition's entire broadband plan is based on the idea that nobody needs 100Mbps broadband piped into their house right now. If you do need it, then you can shell out some cash to your local telco who will connect your house up to the node via a fibre connection rather than saddling you with the copper. Therein lies the rub: the Coalition doesn't really know the remaining life of the nation's copper network, and when it eventually fails -- which it will -- it will replace the lines with fibre anyway.

It's for this reason that Turnbull thinks it might actually end up costing exactly the same in the long term. In a doorstop interview yesterday, Turnbull told CIO that a conservative estimate to connect fibre to the node would be about $900, while the cost of connecting a home to fibre to the home would be $3600.

Turnbull argues that because the average household doesn't need more than 25Mbps right now, the company deploying the network isn't going to see a return on investment on the FTTH investment for some time, and the extra few thousand dollars per home can be invested somewhere it's actually needed first.

Sound theory, but he added that once the copper does need to be replaced with fibre it's going to cost exactly the same, it just won't cost that right now.

Turnbull said that by prolonging the switch to FTTH, you get more flexibility in how you actually want to deploy your network.

Read the full piece over at CIO for more info. [CIO]



    Turnbull knows the Coalitions plan is stupid, it's just all politics, it would be terrible if they admitted Labor was right.

      But if they are going to win the election regardless, then dont touch the current model which is currently underway!

        Here is politics at work, they want to slash the budget at the cost of the future of the nation.

        They are going to win, now comes all the "promises" that they think they can get away with before being elected. They will claim they ran under the platform of cutting back the NBN when really they will be elected for other reasons. In the wash they will say you gave us the mandate to do so when the fact of the matter is the majority support the current NBN plan as it stands.

        Abbott will do this all to say that the LNP are the financial masters.

          nbn is outside the budget

            Surely they are not above taking money out of the future fund to put back into the budget? I can hear it now, 'a surplus budget does ensure our future'. As with Howard and the much loved Margret Thatcher their beliefs that assets can be sold for a short term fix or return is still an ideal of an Abbott lead LNP. I am not ruling out Abbott dissolving the Future Fund.

            The public voted that the NBN should be scaled back as we got elected running on that platform so lets scale back the Future Fund as well as it is indicative of the former Labor governments over spending and cowboy strategies of economic management.

      It really is a shame because Turnbull is pretty good in every other aspect. I reckon he'd make a better PM than either Gillard or Abbott.

        That's why no one wants either of them.

          How's this for a plan
          Turnbull becomes leader of the Libs and says he would follow the new Communications Minister's recommendations.
          The new Communications Minister (some younger minister) says the FTTP stays.
          Libs crush labour in the election

            Or they do nothing and the LIbs still crush Labor in the election.

              That's what's expected.

      Just read that Austin, Texas is get fibre at 1Gbps while a number of cities in Japan are getting fibre at 2Gbps. While our ersatz tech leader is happy to claim 25Mbps is good enough.

    To anyone wanting to learn more about FTTN vs FTTH, I advise you to check out Simon Hackett's (co-founder of Internode) talk last week on the situation. He goes into detail to explain why in just about every sense, FTTN is not a good idea for Australia.


      I've been swinging slightly backwards and forwards, sometimes understanding the Coalition argument, sometimes thinking it's nothing more than a different opinion to Labor for the sake of the election. That video cemented my opinion quite soundly that not only is the high speed component necessary (something I've always believed) but that the financial aspects of FTTN are not as sound as Turbull and Abbott would have us believe. Thanks for the link.

      I think that should be shown to every coalition supporter and FTTN promoter and then ask them to justify their position. Thanks @mattm

      true aussie XD the brutalest nastiest fag ends of the thing XD this dude is awesome

      Last edited 17/04/13 11:21 am

      Mum and dad can't afford the Ferrari they have ordered, but hey get it anyway.. Doesn't matter if it cripples us financially! (ONTOP of the other debts we have at this current time)

      Who actually NEEDS 100/1000mbps at their HOUSE? - to upload/download porn/pirate movies/illegal music? The Apple TV can stream 1080p movies on a 4mbps Adsl plan might need a 10min buffer. (Slightly faster - would be nice)
      If YOU NEED stupid fast internet to your HOUSE , pay for it yourself. (As it will be still available to the house - should it be required- will it not?)

      Run it to schools/ hospitals/ businesses, keep us competitive on the global market.... but why should every person in Australia pay for something (+interest) that only a very small percentage need.

      You pay for plumbing to be at your door even if you don't use it, I can't imagine having fiber at your door and not having to pay for it...

      Hangon - take from the non deserving higher income earners, they will pay for it!

      Fuck, the logic of is a bit like, my first house should be a million dollar mansion because I plan to have one, one day.

      Labour has always tempted everyone with plans that require credit cards! And its most certainly not the low income/doll bludgers that pay for these schemes....

        Check out my link before you start a rant.

        At the end of the day even if you don't like the FTTP plan, the coalitions FTTN will end up costing more in as little as 4-5 years, won't generate anywhere near as much revenue/increase gdp like FTTP would, and has much higher maintenance costs. So sure, be against FTTP, but if you're for the Coalitions FTTN at the same time then you've showed nothing but blatant blind party support.

        Last edited 17/04/13 8:47 pm

        Hope you are trolling.
        No one can be that stupid....

        Apart from the fact everything you said is rubbish (your taxes aren't paying for it so stop pushing that barrow) your analogy is just awful.

        How about being offered a Ferrari for $40k and saying that the clapped out, broken down, rusty , one month to go on its rego Hyundai excel someone is offering for $30k is the better option as it will still get you from a-b and its cheaper.

        It's obvious the excel will cost more in repairs.... And also obvious the Ferrari is worth more than its asking price..but no one should need more than a clapped out car.

    So if you want better Internet you simply have to go out and dig around til you hit your phone line. Also I live in a neighborhood where gangs of ,i'm guessing, youths like to set everything on fire. I think hundreds of white boxes at the end of every street is going to make their day.


      Last edited 18/06/15 9:42 am

        But those hubs are small enough - and more importantly, robust enough - that they can easily be placed underground with an access cover. A FTTN cabinet which requires power and a large piece of hardware cannot easily be put underground.

        Do we know the numbers? I know current FTTH design guidelines specify an FDH cabinet for every (at most) 150 premises. The best I've heard for FTTN is "almost 1 for every street!" which just sounds too much like "won't somebody think of the children!?!" for me -- I wonder if FTTN actually would be one ugly cabinet per around 150 premises too.


          Last edited 18/06/15 9:41 am

            Were you one of the very early group of houses being connected to the NBN? The number of premises per FDH seems to get revised every three months :P The current official NBN documents (publicly available at http://nbnco.com.au/assets/documents/installing-pit-and-conduit-infrastructure.pdf) tell us to design for 172 premises maximum per FDH, although we've been asked verbally to make that 150 per FDH (although, I'm just "some guy" on the internet, you probably shouldn't take my word for that)

            Another possibility is that brownfields NBN might be getting designed differently to greenfields NBN.

            As for the short distances for 25Mbps you mention -- correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought Liberal's "25Mbps" was a "theroetical, up to 25Mbps" similar to how right now, I can get a theoretical up to 24Mbps on ADSL2+ (but I actually get around 2.4Mbps with frequent disconnections since I'm at the outer edge of my exchange's reach)

          Two things have been pointed out to me since I made my comment above:
          (1) FTTH cabinets will be smaller than FTTN cabinets. I've seen photos of Telstra's example VDSL cabinet, and I've met NBN Co's FDH cabinets in person, and they don't seem very different in size to me. But I have to admit that it's hard to compare the two. A photo of the two cabinet side-by-side would help.
          (2) FTTH cabinets will be completely passive with no electrical equipment needing to be powered, whereas FTTN will need powered, active equipment and an array of backup batteries in case of power failure. That means more maintenance and repairs, more ugly battery chemicals being dotted around australia, and a whole lot more power being consumed across the board.

          Last edited 17/04/13 9:36 am

            FTTN works out to about 500,000 car sized batteries being dumped every ~2 years IIRC, zero batteries for FTTH. FTTH FTW

    "It’s for this reason that Turnbull thinks it might actually end up costing exactly the same in the long term. "

    No it'll cost more in the long run. It's the same deal with any construction job(and I imagine a lot of other jobs too). You can do a bunch of things all at once and pay a company once for engaging them or you can do it piecemeal and pay to engage them each individual time.

      Not just inflation though, there's also the cost of buying, installing and maintaining all the useless hardware and the cost of running services (ie electricity) to that hardware.
      And the Elephant-in-the-room that is impossible to quantify in dollars... the economic advantage of being the first country in the world to have "universal" Fibre!
      (ie. Australian startups who with FTTH will have developed the skills, service maturity, and equity to be able to expand Internationally when the rest of the world finally catches up with us?)

      Last edited 16/04/13 4:14 pm

      At the moment I'm working for a company that manages the building of large construction or infrastructure projects, and in this industry at least, stage work is a much more time- and cost-efficient way of going about a project. It gives the coordinator much finer control over expenses and can ensure milestones are being properly met.

      I can't speak for every infrastructure industry, but in the ones I've had any experience in, it's actually pretty rare to try to push the whole project through in one stage. That tends to lead to cost blowouts, sensitivity to changes in contractor wages and often attracts a whole lot of cruft in the middle layers of the project management. It also makes projects less flexible because the design work and rollout plan is all locked in at the start and that work has to be redone if anything comes up between ground-breaking and commissioning that wasn't anticipated.

      I haven't read much about Turnbull's version of the NBN and the tech nerd in me is demanding to be given fibre internet 'rite nao' but what I've heard makes it sound like he'd prefer to break the project up into logical stages and roll each out successively as business requirements demand, and if that's true, that's how most large infrastructure projects are done so it doesn't sound 'Liberals want to fuck the NBN' to me.

        It's because of the inherent incompatibility of FTTN and FTTP infrastructure that is making the Liberal's plan sound really stupid to many people. There is no direct upgrade path from FTTN to FTTP. Even if the eventual replacement of the last mile of copper was costed into the Lib's plan, you still have to account for:
        1. Re splicing the existing fibre to be compatible with an FTTP node
        2. Ripping out ALL FTTN nodes and replacing them with FTTP nodes.
        3. Junking the FTTN cabinets because they are unneeded
        4. Paying the telcos again to access their copper.

        So in this case, breaking the project up into stages is not logical because FTTN is not a 'step' on the way to FTTP.

        I haven't read much about Turnbull's version of the NBN and the tech nerd in me is demanding to be given fibre internet 'rite nao' but what I've heard makes it sound like he'd prefer to break the project up into logical stages and roll each out successively as business requirements demand,

        Except what he's doing is a large scale roll-out of an outdated technology that has much higher maintenance costs in order to say that the upfront cost is cheaper.

        FTTN will spawn an estimated 60,000 nodes around Australia, and guess what happens when we eventually have to upgrade to FTTH? All those 60,000 nodes become absolutely useless. Wasted investment with absolutely no benefit. Not to mention those 60,000 nodes each require 8 batteries and proper maintenance and the nodes themselves are quite large.

        As opposed to the splitter boxes for FTTH which require no power, are a fraction of the size and the maintenance isn't anywhere near as costly as copper.

        You want a much more detailed explanation? Spent 15 minutes listen to the co-founder of Internode discuss the issue.


          The nodes only become useless when all the premises in that area are connected by fibre directly. Each one can be replaced individually as demand or maintenance need presents, and if that need isn't there for a particular node, there's no need to upgrade the node-to-premises connections that node provides.

          I don't much agree with either party's plan for the NBN. Labor's version is overbuilt, the Coalition version is underbuilt. You should always build for foreseeable demand, but not in excess of that. That lets you spend money in places where it will be made back, it lets you take advantage of cheaper hardware costs (from manufacturing improvements), and it lets you roll out better compatible technology as it becomes available.

          The tech side is something people seem eager to dismiss, but it's important. Not just the end- and mid-point hardware but the physical cabling itself. Not all OFC is the same, nor does data travel through OFC at the speed of light (actual speed varies based on the properties of the cable but it's usually about two-thirds light speed). There have been consistent improvements in OFC design over the last 40 years, from fibre diameter changes to refractive index improvements to material improvements, all of which have a non-negligible effect on transmission speed and quality. The rollout currently happening from Sony in Japan, for instance, uses a different type of OFC than we're using here, that is capable of higher transmission rates than ours is. The Japanese national carrier NTT is experimenting with yet another different type of fibre capable of petabit transmission speeds in a single fibre.

          This is a bit of a bugbear of mine, because something I hear constantly is 'fibre is the best there is' and 'nothing beats the speed of light'. It's not as simple as that, and given the choice between rolling out the entire country's network with 2010 fibre technology over say a 10 year period, versus rolling out 2010 fibre technology for the backbone and core suburbs as needed, 2015 fibre technology to the new suburbs being upgraded to FTTP in 2015, and 2020 fibre technology to new suburbs being upgraded in 2020, you'll end up with a better result with the latter. Yes, you'll have a mix of 2010-2020 fibre technology, but you can then go back and upgrade the 2010 hardware to 2020 hardware to bring the whole network up to 2020 standards of technology. To do that with the former, you'd end up having to replace the entire network, not just the oldest components.

          Edit: sorry for the long reply, guess I had a bit to cover. I should clarify again that my view on the rollout isn't one of political loyalty, as I don't think either party is managing (or planning to manage) the rollout correctly. I'm just giving a view purely from an infrastructure rollout perspective.

          Last edited 16/04/13 5:46 pm

            This is a bit of a bugbear of mine, because something I hear constantly is 'fibre is the best there is' and 'nothing beats the speed of light'. It's not as simple as that, and given the choice between rolling out the entire country's network with 2010 fibre technology over say a 10 year period, versus rolling out 2010 fibre technology for the backbone and core suburbs as needed, 2015 fibre technology to the new suburbs being upgraded to FTTP in 2015, and 2020 fibre technology to new suburbs being upgraded in 2020, you'll end up with a better result with the latter. Yes, you'll have a mix of 2010-2020 fibre technology, but you can then go back and upgrade the 2010 hardware to 2020 hardware to bring the whole network up to 2020 standards of technology. To do that with the former, you'd end up having to replace the entire network, not just the oldest components.

            This right here is exactly why in as little as 7 years, the costs will blow out to much, much more than Labor's NBN will cost. You will not have to upgrade our gigabit fiber technology to this experimental fiber technology you speak of, current fiber technology is already capable of reaching gigabit speeds and won't exceed demand until 2050. You will have to eventually though, upgrade all existing copper to fiber. That is a given that the Coalition has agreed to, however they can make their upfront cost appear cheaper by saying they will roll it out as needed.

            I beg of you, take the 15 minutes to listen to Simon Hackett's presentation. It addresses all of your points.


              On re-reading my reply above, I can see that the wrong impression is given that I think copper is an appropriate goal on the network. My first paragraph was meant to address one specific point about the Coalition plan, not to reflect my own view on what the NBN rollout should be like. Apologies for the confusion.

              As I said, I don't believe either party has an ideal plan for the rollout. Just because I think the Labor rollout is seriously flawed doesn't mean I think the Coalition proposal is any better. I don't believe copper is appropriate as a component of the network (except in certain circumstances) and I think FTTP is superior to FTTN. Again, I'm not taking the position of 'choose between A and B' here, I'm saying a third option, C, is better than either of them.

              I didn't suggest upgrading to experimental technology, which would be unnecessarily expensive. I said it's more cost efficient over the life of the network to make use of whatever standard fibre technology is available at each stage of a staged rollout, instead of committing to the technology available at the start of a single stage rollout. This is a proven strategy in every other major infrastructure rollout Australia has had, from roads to electricity, even the existing copper network (the poor quality of which you can thank Telstra for, not the rollout strategy).

                Didn't you say you haven't read much about the Coalitions plan? maybe you should do that before you comment.

                  Already did. That post was 4 hours before your comment.

                  Last edited 16/04/13 10:32 pm

            Just note that under the FTTN plan there is heaps more equipment involved and lots more maintenance, a pure FTTH network cuts out lots of street-side equipment and batteries/air-cons etc. And under the FTTH system upgrading the network is as simple as replacing the terminating hardware at the end points, and under a pure FTTH network there are lots less terminating endpoints. The Fibre cable itself is extremely unlikely to change.

              Yeah, I know. The post you replied to above from me was badly written, I tried clarifying my position in other replies below. I don't think FTTN is an appropriate solution.

                I would like to say, I really enjoyed reading your level headed, common sense comments. It's interesting how everyone wants the best NOW. (Must be the consumer society we live in)

                Fiber for business/schools/hospitals! (As far as the "investment" justification of the COST goes... Absolutely worth every dollar!!!! )

                Now 100/1000mbs to the home. For what exactly? Can someone tell me how on earth anyone needs such ludicrous speeds to their home - today or in the next 10 years that 25mbps won't be able to handle perfectly!
                Over 99% of people I know just need the Internet for emails/ web browsing/youtube and the odd streamed 1080p movie. Which 4mbps can handle... albeit at a stretch....

        That's not to true for linear infrastructure zombiejesus in my experience. I'm in electricity and we certainly don't break our projects up. Mobilisation and demobilisation costs are huge burdens and cost blowouts. We basically get the job all done from a design and legislative perspective then award the contract for someone to do all the work.

        Weather and unforeseen events do cause issues (look at the highway delays) but as with highways you have one company dealing with the whole project. They are responsible for the issues that arise. You do it once...you do it right...breaking it up just makes less people accountable and provides more opportunities for it to go wrong.

        Linear infrastructure is very very different to general construction.

          Who do you work for? I worked with both Electricity Commission NSW and later Transgrid during a few major rail infrastructure projects in the past and it's always been broken up into stage work. Infrastructure doesn't get much more linear than rail =)

      Exactly. Factor in time, the extra labour costs, inflation etc and basically they're offering something crap for twice the price.
      It's the old "poor man's" bargain: buy the shittier option because it's cheaper, end up paying 3 times the cost in the long run because it wears out, faster, needs more repairs and replacements.

      The same sort of thing here- this is essential infrastructure now, you simply cannot go with a shit option because you'll still have to pay for the real thing in the end anyway. Deferring costs is NOT saving.

      Last edited 16/04/13 6:21 pm

    In other words, the Coalition of the Unwilling will replace the copper when it will be much more expensive than doing it now and while the country has strong revenue streams.

      There will probably be plenty more costs in the way of maintenance, as the old copper lines die as well.

      At the moment my work's running some services over infrastructure that's not suitable. We have to waste a lot of time and money trying everything thing we can first (playing with QoS, sending people onsite to reinstall devices, install antennas, etc) before mgmt finally go back to the clients to say 'here's the solution: upgrade your link'.

      I envisage something similar from this FTTN idea, in the long run: Lots of dicking around at the consumer's expense.

      ...and perpetuate the gap between rich and poor. Those with money will have access to high speed information and services. Those without will be left with redundant garbage.

      What strong revenue streams? Mining companies are cancelling projects left and right, China is slowing down, which means we're slowing down.


    Last edited 18/06/15 9:42 am

      Yeah I see the new deal being so bad they haveto. In fact I think it's basically the way Turnbal has engineered it to fail. There is no way in hell any new deal with telstra will make the FttN system more cost effective, and the LNP being the LNP, they will be unable to waist that much cash. I foresee we will still get FttP.

      Additionally I have no issues paying to have the FttP installed under the LNP plan.

      Last edited 17/04/13 11:55 am

    One of the things that stuck in my mind from the press conference was Tony Abbott admitting that they hadn't budgeted for replacing degraded copper. I know from personal experience that it's not just copper that's degraded, it's also the pipes carrying that copper. There's a lot of very old suburbs in Australia, probably more older than newer. Their budget will absolutely blow out.

      Hey man! It's not in their proposed budget, so obviously it can't affect them for good or bad.

      .. right?

      We already have customers in metropolitan areas that when applying for a phone line for naked DSL have been waiting months for a distribution cable upgrade as the cables are just old and need replacing. Telstra seem to be hesitant to invest in upgrading and maintaining the network that exists.

      If you look at the breakdowns in their background document, the final mix under the Coalition's plan will be 22% FTTP and 71% FTTN (and 7% satellite and fixed wireless). That 22%, or 2.8 million premises, includes 1.6 million premises where the current rollout will have been completed or started by the time of the election - that work is going to be allowed to be completed. The other 1.2 million (or a neat 10% of all premises) are the ones where the copper is too degraded to reach the minimum speeds, so they will get fibre instead.

      Problem is, the expectation that the copper will be too degraded to meet the speed requirements at precisely 10% of premises is entirely pulled out of a hat. Only Telstra has any idea exactly what that figure is, and Telstra isn't talking. One of the only pieces of evidence we have to go on is this leak from an industry insider, suggesting the failure rate may be as high as 30%:


      Obviously any figure higher than 10% raises the cost of the Coalition plan.

      why is it always conservative governments who espouse sound economic management always pull this kind of shit? It's happening with FraudBand, it's happened with GWB, his legacy is tarnisehd because of the shit he pulled with introducing Medicare without costing it, and also starting the Iraq war without budgeting for it. America has been saddled with that nincompoop and Obama has spent the last 5 years trying to fix his mess.

      The lesson: conservatives are bad at basic accounting, why do everyone think they'll manage the economy better?

    The whole point of FTTP is to get rid of the aging copper which is designed for voice calls from the ground.

    Copper corrodes and costs money to maintain. Why not just replace it with fibre to begin with?

    Its not going to be done quicker. I can tell you at the moment working for an ISP that ftth is the way to go. Do it once. Do it right. Don't mess around.

    IT doesn't matter who is building it will always have positives and negatives.
    One thing to note is different contractors are being used with money being allocated for separate parts of the network that are supposed to be done in a certain time frame by that company but the problems are:

    1. ALOT of Telstra Re-mediation is needed thanks to low investment in infrastructure e.g. Non existent pit and pipe, cables run over land instead of being in the ground.

    2. The Contractors are sub-contracting just like in the building industry which could have some problems with sub-contractors going bust just like in the building industry when the parent falls and the fact that the Main Contractors are squeezing the Sub-Contractors.

    3. Specialised workforce needed for alot of the jobs however I think anything physical could be done by alot of people e.g. hauling fibre through pit and pipe. All you need is common sense.

    4. Council and Local populace objections.

    5. State/Private power companies trying to prevent them using the power polls.

    Just vote Labor! Ignore the drama of party politics. Only one party has a real plan for broadband, education, the environment, disability insurance and yes the economy. What does the coalition have? More money for rich women to have babies and drones to stop legal asylum seekers from entering our country. WAKE UP or suffer 4 years of a clueless (but undivided) Abbott government!

      None of the parties have an ideal plan for broadband, let alone the rest. And I think each proposal would be better scrutinised if people assessed them based on their merits, and not some sense of political loyalty or campaigning propaganda.

        Hahaha Zombie, good one. You compare Labors plans to Coalitions non-existant plans, you can easily see what the better party is. If the Coalition get in just watch how bad they will be at leading, Labor have done a good job at running this country (despite what the media says) it's just a shame that the majority of people buy into the propaganda.

        Last edited 16/04/13 8:26 pm

          "You compare Labors plans to Coalitions non-existant plans, you can easily see what the better party is"

          Have a think about how absurd what you just said is, for a second. You compare one party's proposal for something with another party's proposal for the same thing, and come to a conclusion not about which proposal is better, which would be the logical thing, but about which party is better?

          I can tell you care a great deal about politics, but not everyone else does. Personally, I don't care for it at all. I like looking at things rationally, regardless of who came up with the idea, and figuring out if I like it or not. I don't like people trying to force politics down my throat, or pulling some weird 'us vs them' nonsense like I either support [insert your favourite party here] or I'm a dirty [insert derogatory term for the other party here (Fiberal/Failbor/No-alitionJuliar/Rabbot/whatever)]. I don't buy into the idea that a political party is worth my loyalty. As far as I'm concerned they're all scumbags and crooks.

          So when I say I think the broadband policies of both parties are bad, I'm not having a go at your favourite party. I don't care which party came up with what plan. I just think there's a better option available.

            Agree with you on the politics and looking at things rationally, regardless of who came up with the idea, and figuring out if I like it or not

            You say you're looking at this rationally, but the rational conclusion is that one party is proposing a more expensive plan, but delivering far better value than the other's plan which is slightly cheaper but delivers much less value.

              I'm looking at what I consider the best approach to rolling out the network is, not which party's proposal is better. There are options beyond the two proposals on the table, even if neither party will entertain them.

          as opposed to Labor's non-existent plans on anything and everything? Every single one of Labor's policies can be broken down as follows:

          1. Think of a good/positive high level, broad idea/goal or alternatively find a policy put in by the coalition and go for the exact opposite approach Kim Beazley style.
          2. Do no research
          3. Do no detailed planning
          4. Ask the union bosses how much money they want in their pockets
          5. Make sure the announced costs will cover no 4
          6. Throw money at it in the hopes that it works out

          Take a look at the debacle that is the National Building Program. The tragic deaths caused by pink batts. The Mining Tax that not only raised barely any money, it scared the mining companies into cancelling a lot of projects (with some help from bad business conditions in general). Wayne Swan's insistence that "we will have a surplus" followed two weeks later by "we don't have a surplus".

          I do not like the coalition much. I think Tony Abbott is an idiot, although he seems to be more honest(or more prone to gaffes depending on how you look at it) than other pols. I complained loudly back when John Howard decided to join George Bush's stupid quest for oil just like I'm complaining loudly now about all of Labor's half baked plans. If my choice is between people who can get some things done properly versus people who will get absolutely nothing done properly, I choose the former.

          I do not like either NBN plan, but if I have to choose, I choose the coalition's plan because in their plan we are not overcommitting ourselves and throwing everything in one basket.

            Just one point...tony Abbott is more honest? Is that because he openly tells us he's a liar?
            He's said it in different versions multiple times.

        I would look at issues with neither of those biases. On merit there is simply no way a discerning person could possibly say the Coalition plan for the NBN or any other policy is better than what Labor is offering. I don't even think anyone is debating it. Unfortunately people are disatisfied with this govenment for other reasons like disunity (out in the open!) and are going to hand the reins over to a much worse one just to teach them a lesson. Nevermind the actual policy on the table.

          I never suggested the two proposals were tied even (I think they're both bad personally), just that people are largely unable to examine policies rationally if they're coming from a basis of political partisanship. The merit (or lack thereof) of the proposal is what matters, not who made it.

          Last edited 16/04/13 9:39 pm

            You keep saying the Labor NBN is bad, but what exactly do you mean by that? Please enlighten us so maybe the Labor party themselves could use some of your ideas, if it turns out to be good.

              I covered my biggest problem with the Labor rollout below in a reply to Well. The deal with the independents, while a sound political move, was a bad business move. I also consider the current NBN's stagework to be weak as it seems to be locked into hardware acquisition based on the starting date of the rollout instead of being responsive to future advances.

        No really, tell us how Labor's NBN could be better. Please let us know. Becuase Kevin Rudd, who's a total policy wonk, always went out of his way to consult the very best experts, regardless of the politics. That's what I lieked about him, he was a geek at heart. The NBN is his work based on sound technical and business advice. I would love to hear a rationale on how the NBN could be better.

    Zombie Jesus, your idea that having better tech for newer suburbs will make little difference in the real world as you will still be dependent on the original fibre, its like putting a bigger hose at the end of a long narrow and expecting more water.

    Our local copper and junction boxes according to the Telstra techs are heavily corroded but they won't fix it due to cost, so guess how shite our speeds will be.

    As for the constant comments on the other stories re the NBN and a legal use for FTTP that FTTN will screw is using the cloud the way it should be, ie back up an entire HDD of data rapidly since it will have poor upstream speeds.

      I don't think copper belongs in the NBN. I wasn't clear on that above and I apologise for the confusion.

      You're correct that while the big hose is connected to the small pipe, the extra capacity of that hose is unutilised. That's a known factor though and it was taken into account in what I described above. The difference is that when it does come time to upgrade the backbone from a small pipe to a large pipe (which is inevitable as technology ages and demand increases), the new suburb is already equipped to take advantage of the increase immediately.

      To put it as an overly simplistic example (collapsed so you don't have to read it if you don't care for it):
      Say the backbone is built with $20/m fibre over a 1km stretch at a cost of $20,000 at the start of the project. Suburb A is also connected at the start with the same fibre technology, with say another 1km of distance, $40K spent and everything is great. 10 years later, Suburb B gets connected, also for 1km of fibre. The original fibre is cheaper now at $10/m, and there's new fibre tech at $20/m. Your network at that point costs $50K if you roll out B with old fibre or $60K if you use new fibre. At that point the extra expense seems wasteful because half its value isn't being utilised with the backbone acting as a chokepoint. But let's say the backbone gets upgraded the very next year (so the fibre options are the same). That costs another $20K. At that point, you have a new fibre backbone with one of two situations: either Suburb B is old fibre and the whole network cost $70K so far, or Suburb B is new fibre and the whole network cost $80,000 so far. Suburb A is on old fibre regardless because that was all that was available when it rolled out. To get from that state to 'whole network is on new fibre' is where the cost efficiency actually comes from. In the first case (A and B are old fibre, backbone is new), you have to spend $40K to roll out two lots of 1km of fibre, one each in A and B, for a total network cost of $110K. Your whole network is now at 'new fibre' level at a cost of $110K. In the second case (A is old, B and the backbone are new), you only have to spend $20K to roll out 1km of fibre in Suburb A, and now your whole network is new fibre at a cost of $100K.

      The principle is to never roll out obsolete technology unless current technology is incompatible, and it works in any infrastructure project that is broken into stages. For railway construction, it might be using wooden sleepers for the first stage and concrete sleepers for the second. For electricity, it's using better cables and cable pits instead of overhead for wiring. For roads, it's using better surface materials on newer streets. You pay less over the life of the project to keep it up to date by following that principle than you would with the single stage alternative.

      Last edited 16/04/13 7:24 pm

        The point is, most of FTTN infrastructure IS incompatible with FTTP. You cannot simply dig up the copper lines and put in new fibre lines to change FTTN to FTTP. The individual nodes will have to be replaced. FTTN also requires more nodes to be effective, meaning you'll be junking redundant nodes. Your scenario also discounts future labour costs and costs of capital (which will be higher). It also discounts rebuying access to the copper network. Telstra still owns it and unless NBN is willing to buy it off them, they'll have to compensate Telstra for continuing to maintain it.

        I agree that rolling things out in stages can be more cost effective, IF there is the ability to roll things out in stages. That is not the case here. It is either: 1) Pay $37b now to do a project right that provides an upgrade path to better tech in the future or 2) Pay $29b now to save $8b and get a dead-end upgrade wise.

          I agree, FTTP is a better plan than FTTN. My suggestion wasn't based on a mixed fibre/copper network (copper doesn't belong), just staging the rollout properly. Future labour costs are already factored into the NBN's current plan, so that shouldn't change in any major way either way. It takes time to build the network no matter what method is used, so as long as the stages are designed to take advantage of technology advances not just in equipment but in cable as well, it'll provide a better, more easily upgradeable network long into the future.

          I think a staged rollout is possible, but it doesn't serve well politically - saying you're building a $40B infrastructure project has more political capital than saying you're laying down a backbone and expanding the network gradually as needed.

          Partly the oddities of the NBN rollout are related to the deals made with the independents, which end up putting fibre out to regional areas before the urban areas are properly connected. Again, good political move to reinforce power, but bad business sense no matter how you slice it. Building it the normal way, as an expanding tree network, would have brought more income online faster and netted more total income by the time the project is finished, since it would have had the bulk of customers on and paying for the longest length of time.

          Of course, I doubt either party is going to change the rollout schedule to be more logical, so if forced to choose between the Labor and Coalition plans, the Labor one is the clear choice. I just wish they'd clean up the rollout schedule and build it more efficiently (ie. inner infrastructure and largest consumer base first).

            The problem with that idea is the "needed" part. MT has said that copper will be replaced with fibre in areas that can't acheive his arbitrary minimum 25Mbps but how is that assessed and by whom?

            The LNP has estimated a figure of 10% of the copper requiring replacement today - other independant assessments say more like 30%. Telstra themselves estimated the copper had 10-15 years life left in 2003. Why would anyone take the risk? Why spend money on FTTN specific infrastructure over the next few years that everyone agrees will have to be replaced pretty much as soon as it complete?

            I disagree that it's bad business sense. Rural obviously needs it as it will never be economically viable for private to undertake. So one factor to consider is not an economic one....that the need is greatest in rural areas and it reduces the risk of the national plan not being implemented. (If it all goes pear shaped private will bring it to Sydney and Melbourne)

            i question your assumptions of the fibre reducing in price and this being an issue....isn't it better to do the less intense fibre rollout but labor/time intensive part...then wait for prices to drop to do the network that needs lots of fibre on mass?

        ... and if the price of cabling goes up instead of down?

        Wouldn't it make sense to use the contractors and subbies while they're already geared up? If your company was laid off the construction job how long would it take them to rehire, retool and retrain a workforce? Doesn't it cost more to do it twice?

        And what of the FTTN infrastructure that becomes redundant the instant FTTP is "needed". MT himself has acknowledged that this is inevitable so why waste the time, effort and money on 60,000 boxes of equipment that will end up being scrapped?

          Why do you keep mentioning FTTN? It's not anywhere in what I said and I've said like 4 times on this page already that it's not the way to go.

            How else do you do a "staged" rollout if not FTTN and the FTTP later on>

    With FTTN the cabinets require power, and your old copper phone line will be connected to it. So does it replace the standard PSTN phone system? So that means that if there is some natural disaster that knocks out power all phone line communication will be knocked out once the backup batteries in the cabinets are exhausted. Where as the FTTP box requires no power, so in disaster where there is no local power the phone system could still work?

    Usually in a large area emergency the mobile phone system can't handle the number of calls.

      The home phone for the FTTP requires power so if you're power goes out, you won't be able to make a phone call after the backup batteries run dry. So some sort of analogue backup is required. I hope I got that right with the NBN Home phones

        yeah cuz phones that dont use power are so commonplace now anyway -_- seriously guys cordless phones require power where is the difference...

        Last edited 17/04/13 4:15 pm

          I've always got an analogue phone in the cupboard in case of blackouts and I need to make calls and my mobile phone is dead. Something I learnt the hard way

    There is also a article related to this last year.


    zach galifianakis would make a better PM than Abbott, Gillard or Turnbull

    cut down on labour cost?

    Teltra maintenance guy "sorry dude, but that part of copper has rotted so we are gonna charge you extra to put in new copper. (which gonna rot away and we can charge you extra for it in the future, sic)"

    So he knows that it'll end up costing the same as the NBN sooner or later, but he's still going with that stupid plan.. I honestly dont get these politicians, they shouldn't talk about things that they do not know about.

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