How Labor + Coalition Broadband Policies Differ: A Hype-Free Explainer

Broadband — in the shape of the National Broadband Network (NBN) — remains a key point of difference between Labor and the Coalition's policies going into the federal election. Our politicians are not paying lip service when it comes to these differences. There are significant variations in cost, in delivery types, in download and upload speeds, in business opportunities, customer experience and the so-called "future-proofing" of the network, depending on which version of the NBN we continue with. So what are they, and what do you need to know?

Cables picture from Shutterstock

At the 2010 election, Opposition leader Tony Abbott threatened to scrap the NBN. But under Malcolm Turnbull's deft handling of the Shadow Communications Minister's portfolio, the Coalition's Broadband Policy, released in April this year, recognises the need for a national, wholesale broadband network and shares many characteristics with the existing NBN model as conceived under Labor.

As with Labor's NBN, an NBN under the Coalition will be a wholesale network, open to any retail service provider that can connect to the network. There are some differences in pricing strategies between the two policies, primarily around whether prices are uniform across the country (as in the Labor policy) or capped (as in the Coalition's policy) but the service model is broadly the same.

Both Labor and the Coalition will use newly-launched satellites to take broadband to remote areas, and fixed wireless to cover rural areas, where wired access such as fibre or copper is either technically unfeasible or economically unviable. But the key difference between the two policies is the network technology to be used in urban areas.

Labor will continue rolling out a Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) network — whereby optic fibre extends all the way to homes and businesses — while the Coalition policy calls for a shift to Fibre to the Node (FTTN) — whereby fibre is delivered to local "cabinets", called nodes, and copper wire runs from these nodes to houses and businesses — in brownfield sites (i.e. established urban areas); and FTTP in greenfield sites (i.e. new housing estates).

Despite some delays in the rollout of Labor's FTTP network, NBNCo — the company tasked with building NBN infrastructure — says the completion date for the project remains fixed at 2021, and that the total cost will be $44.1 billion.

Cost differences

The Coalition's policy calls for completion of the rollout of its FTTN network by 2019, at a total cost of $29.5 billion. The difference in cost between Labor's network and the Coalition's network per premises is about $1000.

To put this in perspective, the recent rollout of smart electricity meters in Victoria cost about $1,200 per premises.

In essence, the Coalition's FTTN network will cost two-thirds as much as Labor's FTTP network, based on the official cost estimates in each policy, but will be only one-twentieth as fast.

Speed differences

The Coalition's FTTN network will provide download speeds of 50 Mbps (allowing you to download an hour-long high-definition television show in a few minutes) to 90% of connected homes, while Labor's FTTP network will initially provide download speeds up to 1 Gbps — 20 times faster than the Coalition's FTTN network.

Labor's FTTP network will provide upload speeds of 400 Mbps — 40 times faster than FTTN. Upload speed is important for activities which require you to send data from your computer, such as video calls.

The speed difference between the two networks comes down to the fact the Coalition's FTTN model relies on the existing copper connections between the node and the premises, while in Labor's FTTP network, the entire connection is by fibre.

The table below summarises some of the key differences between policies:

In recent years, engineers in laboratories around the world have developed technological marvels to extract the maximum capacity out of copper, and these marvels are to be incorporated in the Coalition's network using very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line (VDSL) technology.

VDSL's higher speeds result from the use of different bands of frequency to voice calls, allowing data for multiple applications (such as internet connection and high-definition television) to be transmitted on the same copper wires. It builds upon — and is faster than — current technology used in asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) networks.

But the download and upload speeds achievable with VDSL are a tiny fraction of the speeds achievable using FTTP.

Additionally, with VDSL in FTTN networks, the further the premises are located from the node, the slower the speed. In addition, the speed can be degraded if water gets into the cables after heavy rain — as some users notice in today's ADSL network.

What the future holds

While few households need 1 Gbps today (the average internet connection speed in Australia is currently 4.2 Mbps) the historical demand for broadband network bandwidth has grown at about 30% — 40% per annum.

Today's ADSL2+ network provides around 10-20 Mbps and many households find this to be barely sufficient, especially when two or three family members simultaneously access high-bandwidth applications, such as video on demand, gaming, or various kinds of home office applications.

Using historical growth figures, and allowing for future generations of ultra-high definition television, multi-view services, together with multiple TV displays in a single household, in-home video conferencing and so on, it's likely that domestic broadband domestic customers will be seeking bandwidths of more than 100 Mbps by 2020 and about 1 Gbps by 2035.

Many business customers will require these bandwidths much sooner, as they begin to take full advantage of new broadband applications and services, and to develop innovative new online products. Historically, the development of applications tends to follow the provision of infrastructure. Applications that use increased speed tend to be developed only when those speeds are in existence or imminent.

Based on these numbers, the Coalition's FTTN network will be obsolete by 2020, and will require major expensive upgrades after this. While it's possible telecommunications engineers may find ways to squeeze a little bit more speed out of copper, the only way to move beyond the speed limitations of FTTN is to move the nodes closer to the home.

In practice, this ultimately means an upgrade from FTTN to FTTP.

Fibre on demand

For those who need more than 50 Mbps from the FTTN network, the Coalition's policy provides for a "fibre-on-demand" upgrade path, in which a customer pays for a fibre to be installed from the node in the street to the premises.

The cost of this to the individual could be in the region of $1,000-$5,000, depending on the distance of the node from the premises. Future upgrades of Labor's FTTP to 10 Gbps and beyond will require simple exchange of the user terminal in the home, at a cost typically in the region of $100-$200.

The Coalition's "fibre-on-demand" strategy raises the spectre of a digital divide between households, businesses and regions that can afford to pay for the upgrade and those that cannot.

To illustrate this, a graphic design business that uploads and downloads data to its customers, and happens to be located close to a node, will be in a much better business position that a competitor 500 metres down the road. This will arguably impede the economic benefits of the network as a whole, limiting the application of health, education and productivity-boosting applications.

This will mean the saving of $1000 per premise offered by the Coalition could easily be wiped out by the loss of long-term economic benefits of a high-capacity FTTP network.

Going mobile

Some commentators have argued the increasing popularity of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets decreases the need for the NBN.

But a FTTP broadband network will facilitate this rapid growth in mobile broadband. Telephone companies around the world are now enhancing their mobile networks with an ever-increasing number of small wireless base stations located on street corners, in shopping centres, offices, and even in customers' homes, using fibre connections from the small base stations to their network.

While NBNCo is not yet offering backhaul services (transporting data to a point that would allow it to be be distributed over a network) to mobile operators, Labor's FTTP network is ideally suited for this. Because the Coalition's FTTN network relies on existing copper cable to the home, it is generally unsuitable for wireless backhaul.

Energy implications

Energy consumption is often overlooked in communications network planning, but is becoming increasingly important. The power consumption of the Labor's FTTN network will be about 70 Megawatts and the Coalition's FTTN network will consume twice that — about 140 Megawatts.

The cost of this extra power is relatively small compared with the installation cost of the network, and this comparison does not include end-user devices such as computers and TV displays. But the increased electrical power consumption of the Coalition's FTTN network will have a greenhouse impact approaching that of a city the size of Launceston in Tasmania.

What we know, in short …

The Coalition's broadband policy offers a lower-cost network that will provide customers with modest improvements in broadband services in the shorter term; whereas the Coalition's network will create a new digital divide and require major upgrades soon after it is completed.

The cost difference between these two alternatives is about $1000 per premises.

Labor promises a more future-proof solution that will cost more at the outset, but will stimulate broadband developments in government, business, and entertainment, and has potential to serve Australia beyond 2050.

Rod Tucker is Director of the Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES) at University of Melbourne. His research is financially supported by the Australian Research Council, Alcatel-Lucent, and the Victorian Government. The Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society has received cash and in kind support from a range of companies including Optus, NBNCo, Ericsson, Microsoft, Cisco and Google, through its industry partner program and research collaborations. A version of this article was published on the University of Melbourne's Election Watch 2013 website The ConversationThis article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.



    I'm sorry but this is not accurate. The Liberal Party network will need a massive upgrade in electrical infrastructure to power the boxes on each street, and all the boxes will have to be air-conditioned. This is NOT taken into account anywhere. The cost of building this will be higher than even the most pessimistic estimates, and the maintenance and replacement costs will be astronomical by comparison. Please, please, people, understand the concepts of project pricing and total cost of ownership (TCO).

      They will not need aircon guarenteed. At worst they will need an airfilter. Industry grade networking gear can operate at extreme temps sometimes up to 80 degrees plus.

        I hope it can survive the local vandals.

          Won't in my area! There's a few dept of housing places here, and at least once a week tradesmen are there repairing walls or fixing plumbing that has been broken.

        Came from the horses mouth mate; The people who are pitching for the work...

          you mean the people who want to be paid as much as possible?

        Sure it can, but the Mean Time Between Failures goes up, it's not a linear relationship either. Anywhere that buys its spares, employs people to fault-find, and replace hardware will Aircon...

      If they priced the labor NBN the same way as the same way as the Coalition it would cost 90+ billion.
      Removing your best case (very inaccurate) profits from the cost is ridiculous.

    Perhaps as well you could change the title to "yet another" [...]

    Please read your first table, and tell me, did you use the right 'site'?

      Well spotted. A typo at the bottom of the table is all I spotted. Compering.

    "But a FTTP broadband network will facilitate this rapid growth in mobile broadband....
    Because the Coalition’s FTTN network relies on existing copper cable to the home, it is generally unsuitable for wireless backhaul."

    This is the stupidest retort against the NBN v mobile broadband argument - femtocells and the like in people's homes are for calls, not data, as they rely on a local wired internet connection to function. Also, this tech does not need huge bandwidth requires for phone/video call usage. FTTN will be to shopping centres and street corners, as you mention, making FTTN suitable for such backhaul.

    Also the 2021 vs 2019 completion dates are only for street to access these FTTN/FTTP tech, NOT to the actual home. High rise buildings, body corps and strata title premises (in which a large proportion of inner city residents live) will have to spend thousands of dollars upgrading their infrastructure so anyone can use FTTP. With FTTN Using existing copper in these buildings gives people faster speeds sooner and cheaper.

    Also comparing today's 4G wireless to 2020's wireless broadband capability is like comparing today's 4G to 2G and the very beginnings of 3G consumer wireless. The comparison is almost entirely irrelevant.

    I'm not saying I wouldn't love FTTP, but if you really want this to be hype-free, I would recommend adding these arguments. With Labor's NBN, I know I will not get fibre out the front of my place (inner suburban Brisbane) for 5+ years, so we should not discount the function of wireless yet!

    Last edited 22/07/13 9:50 am

      Indeed, there is a large gulf between today's 4G and the early 3G of ten years ago. But there is a similarly large gulf between today's ADSL and the dialup of ten years ago, and the fibre speeds of the future. Mobile broadband speeds and capacity are growing exponentially, but so are fixed line speeds and capacity. Mobile is ten years and an order of magnitude behind fixed line, and it is not catching up in the foreseeable future.

      The ABS' Internet Activity stats tell the story. Mobile broadband connections are rising as a proportion of all services, up to 50.5% of connections now from 49% a year ago. But the proportion of data that these connections are moving is down, from 6.7% a year ago to just 5.1% now. Mobile is not the future.

      I hate myself for this, but I'm about to put a pro-liberal point forward...
      The Liberals completion date is 2019 or 2016, depending on who you talk to and what "completion" means to you. If completion means "the NBN has been connected to all premises in Australia", then 2016 is your Liberal completion date. However, that 2016 date is only for 25Mbps. Liberals will continue the upgrade to 50Mbps completing in 2019.

      Mobile Broadband bandwidth may be rising, but so are the costs.

      Have you seen the latest mobile broadband prices by carriers?

      Meanwhile, some providers are already offering unlimited NBN data at up to 100mbps for a fixed monthly fee.

      In 2020 there will still be a huge difference between the cost of a Gb of NBN data vs the cost of a Gb of Wireless Broadband data.

    yes, this is all good and well, but during an election, there is more to consider than just what internet you'll be getting. I agree that Labor's solution is much better and more logical, but that alone doesn't make Labor the better party to vote for

      when the difference is the liberals will cost this nation billions and effectively cripple us for the future with this beyond stupid plan of theirs, its all that should matter. Everything else is rather similar policy's differ slightly sure but in terms of what is 100% unarguably better for Australia this is the single largest difference maker and to overlook it simple because of "lol Internets isn't important" is so far beyond ignorant.

      I would also say the summary statement at the end needs to be far more pro FTTP, in terms of benefit to Australia it is superior in every respect, its cheaper in the long run, will give better growth to pretty much everything and doesn't discriminate via wealth. It should be criminal for tony to even have this FTTN plan, it is actually that awful by comparison.

      Does for me, and this is coming from a person who has voted Liberal for 15 years.

        Aah, there's the rub. Labor have done a lot of bad things, which is why they were so unpopular they had to bring back Rudd. The Coalition also have some bad policies, including this one.
        The problem is, we don't get to vote on individual policies.
        Whoever gets in will claim to have a "mandate from the people" to implement ALL their policies - good, bad or mediocre. The NBN is just one of the policies.

          I wish we can vote on policies directly instead of representatives. The question is, who will come up with the policies?

            It's a nice idea, but the problem with allowing voting on individual policies is that it is difficult (or impossible) to avoid having people vote for mutually contradictory things, e.g. lower taxes, more teachers, and better hospitals
            Another problem is that you suffer from the tyranny of the majority. It is possible that the majority of people may want something but for that thing to still be wrong. There is debate as to whether that actually happens in practice, but on the back of an extreme event and with the aid of people like Alan Jones some fairly racist laws could appear.
            As part of a much larger system of individual political involvement then it could potentially work (e.g. having field experts provide information on particular areas, having community forums to discuss issues, and restricting ability to vote on individual issues to those who have been involved).

      The telecommunications infrastructure of the country is not to be taken lightly.

      FTTN is the dial up of the fiber era. We shouldn't be this low on the list of countries with good Internet nor should we be trying to ensure we stay there.

      What it does do, however, is pretty much turn the tables right in the direction of the Labor Party. This is to say, it makes it really easy to agree with what they are saying because of the NBN- I am usually a Liberal sort of person but I am very much a Labor person when it comes to broadband!!

      Tell you what, demand a referendum from your local "member" for a direct democracy, and you actually will have a say...

    "and many households find this to be barely sufficient, " Where's your evidence of this? "Many households" doesn't mean most or even a tiny percentage. So what do you mean? 1%? 2%? 10%? You and your family only?

    I have 4 adults in my family all sharing a standard ADSL link with absolutely no issue. My kids are at Uni and rely on our connection to stream lectures, and my wife and I are both attending online courses which include video at the same time. No issues.

    So put up a link to your evidence. Hype-free? What a crock!

    Last edited 22/07/13 10:32 am

      Yeah, I appreciate the attempt by this article to stay factual but I cringed when I got to this part.

      So what's you adsl connection speed then? What's good for you is good for everyone else right?? My adsl connection is 2mbit. 2!. I pay the same price as someone who can connect at 10mbit, 15, heck even 20. What you're saying is a crock.

        Currently 8.9Mps (I used 2Mps is low. What I was saying is *mine* is OK, and asking for the author's evidence. You don't necessarily need fibre. You may just need some line maintenance. In fact, I'd bet if you were able to get 8.9Mps you might actually see it's enough!

      The unfortunate reality of a copper network is that there is no standard for "ADSL". You have ADSL and appear to be getting a 15-20mb connection, I have ADSL and I'm on a 1.5mb connection, I have to buffer 240p videos and god forbid more than 2 persons using the internet at the same time.

      So while ADSL at your current location is sufficient, ADSL at a different location, and largely a majority of ADSL service locations, would not be suitable for you.

      Last edited 22/07/13 12:41 pm

      We have five full adults. Three gamers and two pensioners. Between iview, foxtell go and two HD YouTube clips. My bandwidth starts to hurt a little on my gaming. Currently on 25mbps.

      And again, just because its good enough now doesn't mean it will be later. Technology keeps advancing.

      In my opinion, the biggest problem with the current connectivity is upload speed. Even if 25Mbps is adequate download speed, 1Mbps upload is not (in my opinion). Even if you accept that most people do find current connection speeds adequate, that certainly does not mean it will remain adequate for much longer.
      (Which isn't to say that the original claim of it being 'barely sufficient' was correct).

      The latest information from NBNCo is that 39% of all connections are for the slowest connections (12 or 25Meg). 33% of people went for the fastest connection (100Meg). In other words, 67% of all connections are not for the fastest connection.

      As I have said before, the connection speed is only one issue. I have 100/40 NBN connection but it is nigh on impossible to stream movies on a Friday or Saturday night.

        That's something that hasn't been discussed much: if the coalition plan is going to keep the same sort of speed tiers or force everyone into "speed lottery", where everyone pays the same whether they get 7/1 or 100/5 due to quality of their copper. At least with fibre you will get what you pay for, at worst everyone will be degraded equally if there is congestion. Sounds like your internet provider didn't get enough bandwidth so they'd have the same problem no matter which technology delivers the packets.

      If you are talking low res streaming, then yeah 4 people aint no problem. Bump it up to some HD streams and then you are going to hit issues.

      Good luck streaming a HD movie with the wife\GF\whatever, while the others are streaming HD porn\lectures on your 25Mb connection.

      My previous residence had a 1.3MB/sec (10 megabit) download speed; We had no trouble with a single 1080p stream from youtube or similar and could get away with with it while someone else was just browsing the net, but not if they were trying to run another HD stream.

      Currently we have someone who streams live lectures and she has a lot of trouble with the stream, even with the rest of the house avoiding the net while she streams; we only hit 480KB/sec (3.5 megabit) download here though. Mind you, the stream isn't even 1080p.

        I completely agree, @data-cain. However, you don't need to *stream* movies (even in HD) to enjoy them. Slight changes in behaviour can mean you get to enjoy all the things you want to without insane bandwidth.

        For example, I subscribed to the iTunes Game of Thrones Season 3, and downloaded each of the episodes (2Gb in size each) overnight while I was asleep. I viewed them the next evening in crystal clear HD without needing any streaming bandwidth at all.

        So I question this 'need' for fibre speeds in households. It's definitely a 'great to have' - no argument there, but if we're serious about value for our taxpayer dollar I wonder whether the extra money is better invested elsewhere.

        As a final word, I'm as keen as anyone for the Coalition to prove there's serious savings with their plan. But watching the pace of the NBN rollout in my area (yes, I'm one of the 'lucky' ones!) I have serious doubts any of Labor's figures (dollars AND timeframe) are even close to reality.

        Last edited 07/09/13 11:14 am

    When Telstra is willing to sign a contract to maintain the copper network or the next 100 years, that they say it will last for, and guarantee the speeds promoted by the LNP at a fixed cost, plus inflation indexing, then and only then will I consider their "broadband" policy to have any basis in reality. Also they will need to guarantee that they will be able to achieve speeds comparable with the networks of other developed countries broadband networks for that whole time. They would need to supply a rather large deposit, say $100b along with this contract.

    The coalition scheme is terminally broken and only brings us to the present day in technology. By the time it will roll out, it will already be obsolete. The only advantage of it is that it may still preserve a telstra monopoly for the small hops of copper still required. Who needs that?!
    If you're voting on a communications future - go Labor.

    The comments regarding "standard ADSL link with no issue" - sure, you're probably right, and may be lucky enough to have a decent DSL link (most urban areas have ancient, crappy, Telstra/Telecom cables that hamper ADSL). However, the NBN is about enabling *new* technologies and *new* ways to communicate in a world that is rapidly changing and will continue to do so. Putting our heads in the sand will not help us keep up with our international peers.

    IF Liberals were offering their FTTN plan and you didn't have the Labor FTTP plan to compare against - would you think the Liberal plan is good policy?

    It's only compared to the cost and tiem frame of Labors plan that the Liberal FTTN plan even gets a look in.

    By itself - its an atrocious waste of money.

      Fttn should have been rolled out 10+ years ago. Of course Telstra wanted to but didn't want to have to share it with its "competitors".

    LABOR - Will conect fibre optic directly to your the year 2376.
    COALITION - Will connect cheaper and quicker, by connecting high speed optic fibre to a node....which is then connected to your house with existing copper telephone line.
    GREENS - Will give each Australian household a telescope, texter and large white board. All made from biodegradable, recycled materials.

    Last edited 22/07/13 1:05 pm

      LABOR - Which will last 50+ years, require little maintenance costs, is guaranteed speed and can be upgraded to massive speeds as required.
      COALITION - Will require massive maintenance costs, will be slower, is not guaranteed speed, still weather effected, will take another 3 years before it even starts getting rolled out and will require upgrade in 10-15 years to FTTP anyway.

        NOOTHER - Should have been donged on the head with a hammer shortly after birth.

        I'll have mine LABOR... shaken, not stirred

        Last edited 22/07/13 1:26 pm

        Oh, and if your current copper lines are in extremely poor condition with a lot of noise, you can kiss goodbye to getting any benefit from the Liberal FTTN scheme. For a lot of people the bottleneck (even with current ADSL) isn't from the node to the rest of the world, it's the copper line from the premises to the node.

          ....Shut the fuck up ippy...You're out of your element..

          Last edited 22/07/13 3:38 pm

            TECHNOLOGY - Remember when CD's would last us the next 100 years, DVD's were 50 years ... technology moves too fast and you would be naiive to assume that any technology is the pinacle for the next 5 years, let alone 10 ...

            LABOR - every premesis to fibre, if you give my grandma fibre, she'll think you're talking about something entirely different ... lots of people can not afford adsl and dont have internet, fibre will be more expensive for them and there WONT be an alternative ...

            COALITION - the network will be faster, you can keep ADSL if you want and if you want fibre, you can have it, but you have to pay for it ...

            DEPLOYMENT & COSTS:
            this is a fun one, so we'll break it down to the parties claims
            LIBERAL claims
            Labour 90bn & 2025 / Liberal 30bn & 2016
            LABOR claims
            Labor 45bn & 2021 / Liberal 30bn & 2019

            Even though LABOR have a horrible track record with estimates & figures, lets assume the benefit of the doubt & split them both half way:
            LABOR 60bn & 2023
            LIBERAL 30bn & 2017(july)

            I still know which I would prefer because i will pay a little bit extra & have it nearly 6 years sooner when the technology is still recent enough to be usable

              You've got hold of the wrong end of the stick. Expenditures are irrelevant.What counts is revenue!!! The FTTP will return at least 7% on capital. FTTN will be lucky to cover it's running costs let alone make a return on investment. Compare the cost to taxpayers rather than the project budgets. FTTP will cost taxpayers $13.5B in interest payments (up to 2033). After that it's all gravy. Rivers of gold. The fraudband alternative will be a total business failure. FTTN will never repay its investment.

          Was just joking with you mate. I prefer Labors NBN plan but sorry man, there's no way I'm voting for that bitch at the next election.

      The Greens remind me of those stoners in memes!!

      GREENS - Support the Labor plan, with the exception that they want to retain the infrastructure/NBNCo (you know, since it will make money)

      Last edited 06/09/13 12:32 pm

    If A/C is required at the node, then you'd need A/C at the home ... another insulation situation, people dead & homes up in flames??

      Wow, that's a good point, let me think for a bit. Oh wait, my mistake, that's absolute bullshit. (credit to Tim Minchin)
      The equipment required at a node is different to equipment required at a home installation. You know, because it is a single endpoint which doesn't require DSLAM equipment, etc.

    Typo... "The power consumption of the Labor’s FTTN network will be about 70 Megawatts and the Coalition’s FTTN network will consume twice that — about 140 Megawatts."

    Labor's NBN is FTTP.

    Also, there is another consideration when it comes to power... The application process (to get power to a node) itself is... exhaustive. For example in northern QLD its not uncommon for an power application to take 6 months to get approved.

      And then a cyclone will take it out and you'll be left without phone and internet for another 6 months!

    I work for one of the Service Delivery Partners for NBN and my rolei sto position the cabinets you're all speculating about.

    I also design from the node to the premises -- ask an engineer what to build and stop opinionating a technical topic. So much bs, deliberately false info and flat-out wrong info from alot of people who use tech but know too little about how it works.

    Fibre Access Node is powered and yes the power can take months to get connected - WA and QLD are the worst for this.
    VIC power distributors are vastly superior in speed of delivery, liason with stakeholders and technical expertise in tricky builds. NSW is in the middle, SA, TAS not bad and ACT requires extensive governmental input (not a state).

    I repeat what I said before -- the Liberal proposal is a ludicrous waste of money and only differs to FTTP because they cannot be seen to support a Labor proposal.

    As to the copper -- Telstra has been neglecting $1billion worth of upkeep annually due to the FTTP no longer needing it - so, degraded internets over last 2-3 years as the politics interferes with the pragmatic construction of the correct and best technology. Speed of Light will always be > hmmm ANYTHING ELSE CURRENTLY KNOWN.

    I was going to vote liberal and just suck it up that we get a cut rate version of the NBN, but now that Labour got rid of that cow Julia, want to scrap the carbon tax and make the boat people live in PNG (sucked in line jumpers, you deserve it ) I'm going to vote labor and get the full Monty. Finally gaming without the lag when playing against other countries.

      The Liberal Party are sure to sustain our needs in order to facilitate our wants later. However, scrapping CT could very well be another political scandal as well and as for "Julia", come on! A little respect for the highest position in the land please! There were many things that she could have done better but we cannot be so demeaning to someone of her status. Despite what you may be thinking, running a county is not quite the average walk in the park!

      Finally gaming without the lag when playing against other countries.

      Lag is not a bandwidth constraint, lag is a physical constraint. You will never be able to connect to somewhere half-way across the world in under 200ms. At the end of the day, it's limited by the speed of light.

      What it does do though is when the infrastructure here has improved, companies can now look to set servers up in Australia as it become affordable, efficient and more people are utilizing them.

        While it is true that lag is not a bandwidth constraint, it is partially a function of the number of intermediaries in the chain. If there is a switch from fibre to ADSL at a cabinet then that is an additional hop.
        Some technologies also have a greater inherent latency than others due to rate of transmission, filtering requirements etc. That isn't to say fibre is necessarily faster than ADSL or the converse in this case, though.
        That said, you're completely right about the speed-of-light issue with regard to long distances, and probably that better infrastructure can attract better service provision.

        But you do reduce lag by a little by avoiding traveling at much slower than the speed of light for that bit through copper wires.

    This question may have been answered before and I may get shot down for asking this. But do we really need 1Gbps speed? I know we should be future proofing our technology today but I struggle to understand why we would need that much speed.

      Because technology and media requirements grow substantially. If you asked during the dial-up era if you really needed a 20mb connection, you couldn't think of many reasons why. I mean, all the pictures available were small sizes, videos were 120p, the internet didn't have many uses for high bandwidth. The average consumers would struggle to understand why they would need 20 times the bandwidth of dial-up speeds.

      But not everyone would need it, just like there are people today who still function on dial-up connections (we have several dial-up customers who are happy with it). It's about providing the flexibility and options so it's there when the demand increases.

        There is a limit to how much bandwidth you need. Audio quality topped out at 16 Bit 44.1 kHz for consumer consumption @ 1411 kbps and then along came mp3 with 320 kbps doing about the same thing. There is really only so much video quality you need for real time domestic use. 720 p video calls @ 5000 kbps will be more than enough for the 99%. So, let's assume you get 10,240 kbps (which is achievable now with ADSL2+) and so if it takes you 5 minutes to download your HD movie, so what? That's a lot quicker than getting in the car and going to the store AND you can't watch it that fast either. At some point enough is enough. If we can guarantee 24,000 kbps to every household (or the 98%) then we are fast enough to do pretty much anything we need...except robotic neurosurgery at home via the net. People are way over-estimating the band-width needed for the 99% of things you may ever want to do on the net. Added to this, technology has a habit of filling in the gaps. For the record I am living and working from home in the IT industry on about 10,000 kbps (developing multimedia content) and it's ALMOST good enough now. I'd just like to lose the A in ADSL since I upload a lot too.

      Because one day in the future YouTube will be streaming 8k videos..

      And the guy with the horse and cart couldnt see a need for paved multi-lane "roads".

      The guy with the first toilet couldnt see a need for a fully reticulated sewer system.

      The guy with the first commercial airplane couldn't see a need for flight path mapping and Air Control Towers.

      The guy with the pistol couldnt see a need for a machine gun.

      Thankfully, there were other 'guys' to see beyond the limits of the first guys vision.

    Whilst I had an FTTP connection in VIC, I don' have one in NSW and personally it made no difference to me.
    I agree all new premises should have FTTP mandatory and included as part of the building cost. What I don't agree is that FTTP to a premises should be the responsibility of the government. I'm siding with the Coalition on this, FTTN and be done with it. If YOU want FTTP, YOU pay for it. Government already provided you with an FTTN which is fair enough. Suddenly having home owners coughing up for FTTP cost themselves for gaming & video streaming doesn't seem all that viable. Luxury vs Necessity?
    This is after all tax money and some tax payers will have to pay more than other for the same benefit. Enter free loaders?

    Also what the country needs and what it can afford should also be considered, The LNP traditionally spends all the savings made by Coalition, so no surprise their budget wheels came off big time.

      I don't understand, FTTN will cost more in the long run with maintenance and power costs and will generate much, much less revenue for Australia as a whole, plus when the inevitable upgrade to FTTP is performed, the FTTN equipment will have to be thrown away making it the poorest of investments. FTTP is an investment in Australia's future that helps the economy, businesses can now look to setup shop in Australia without spending $5,000 on a decent internet connection to make their business viable, more jobs can be performed from home, there are many more possibilities that we haven't even thought of. To say that it's just for gaming and video streaming is a very poor statement.

      If money is the issue, it seems like a no-brainer that FTTP is the winner, unless of course you're not looking at more than the upfront cost and no more than 3 years in the future.

      And by the way, the average funding per premise is $2400 (FTTN) vs $3400 (FTTP). Not worth it.

      Last edited 23/07/13 10:14 am

      That's a nice idea, and if there were no coalition NBN plan then it might be viable. A problem with the coalition NBN plan is that the per-premises incremental cost of a later transition from FTTN to FTTP is much greater than the incremental cost of doing FTTP initially. That is, the coalition plan saves up front but costs more longer term.
      It also isn't tax money. See the NBN myths site for more details.

      It is a nice idea that broadband shouldn't be the responsibility of government, but in reality large infrastructure projects are done as government projects (e.g. original water pipes, copper lines, sewers, power grids), not private projects. Part of that is because a government can include in the calculations of investment value the effects of infrastructure on wider industry and community rather than requiring a return purely on the infrastructure itself (for example, rail can provide benefits through reducing the use of roads and thus road maintenance costs - particularly for freight).

      Perhaps a cost-benefit analysis should have been done, but the LNP isn't planning one either so whether it would have been a good idea or not it doesn't provide a reason for one plan over another.

      Obviously, I think a FTTP NBN is the sensible option when stacked against a FTTN NBN, but that is basically because I think it will have much lower long-term costs rather than being an interim solution. I also do think it could facilitate technology development because of the improved upstream performance (and just better throughput, but mainly because of upstream advantage).

    I can solve many of the problems with Labors delivery times and cost... We train the boat people and offer more 457 visas. It could be the biggest Labor project since the Pyramids and best of all we wont need the whips and chains because people actually want to come here free willing to work and live.

    As an online gamer (Call of Duty) I already notice the difference in connection performance when you come up against someone running a fibre connection.

    I currently have 20 Mbps ADSL2+, yet despite being an impressive connection by ADSL2+ standards, there are members of the gaming community now that are now running fibre and the lower latency of their connection makes them online multiplayer juggernauts!

    I certainly hope I don't end up on the coalitions copper-based FTTN whilst FTTP is rolled out into new estates :(

    One point I'd like to make the 1Gbps for the Labor side of the table is the maximum you can get, whereas the 50 Mbps for the Coalition side is the bare minimum promised. I'd also like to point out that you can get 1Gbps over ethernet which is copper...

      Look at the above chart. Copper is fantastic if you live 100m away from the exchange, but anything over 100m means gigabit ethernet copper twisted pair no longer become viable for gigabit speeds and switches over to fiber.

      This is the biggest issue with copper, it relies to heavily on 1) it's environment and 2) it's location. Because of these two factors it is not reliable. Unless they plan on placing a cabinet inside 100 meters of everyone's premise, which is going to be costly (and keep in mind that VDSL2+ can not attain over 100mbps and that the coalitions first promise is 25mbps speeds followed by upgrades to 50mbps, the inevitable upgrade to fiber will mean trashing every single one of those cabinets that were costly installments).

      Refer to the below chart for speed over distance comparison for a copper network vs a fiber network.

      Last edited 24/07/13 10:31 am

        Isn't the coalition policy to have FTTN meaning a node serving every street basically? This would mean less than 100m over copper for my area for sure.

          The Coalition policy only promises 25mbps first and then 50mbps in 2019. That's about a 500-600m exchange distance in 2019. If you were to go for a 100mbps service upgrade to all of Australia, the cost would blow out to many times that of FTTP and you'd be getting 1/10th of the service with expensive infrastructure that needs to be thrown away when the inevitable upgrade to fiber comes.

      "the 1Gbps for the Labor side of the table is the maximum you can get"

      How do you know what fibre provides? Exactly where did you get that tasty morsel of info? The current record is 26Tbps through a single fibre of commonly-manufactured composition over 50 km:

      The electronics at either end can be upgraded cheaply, as is mentioned in the Gizmodo article.

      Last edited 24/07/13 8:36 pm

      Well sure, you could use ethernet if you have a node out on your front nature strip... Ethernet connections can only reach an absolute maximum of about a hundred metres.

      I'd like to point out that 1Gbps is not the maximum possible speed of fibre. Whereas 50 Mbps is not too far off the maximum speed that most people living on the other side of the block will be getting through copper.

      Last edited 06/09/13 11:54 pm

    you can also get 10Gbit over copper... but at a very short distance.
    As a person who has moved many many times and relies on reliable internet (3G / 4G is not reliable at peek times) for my job.
    The copper network is just not up to the task, i have lived in apartment buildings where the line speed on the ADSL at the MDF has been 3MBit and only 1.9Mbit at the unit and that was in Surry Hills!
    Copper Lines inside the apartment buildings are outside of Telstra's area and badly need to be replaced...
    Even now I get good line speed (16Mbit) however even with my modem on the most stable profile I have it will still drop out 2-3 times a day and varies wildly depending on the WEATHER!

    I know with VDSL they will install the cabinets in fairly close proximity but VDSL gear will be far less weather tights than fibre.
    I want FTTP..... and will vote that way

    A former Chief Technology Officer of British Telecom - the UK's equivalent to Telstra - has said in testimony to the UK Parliament that the FTTN rollout in the UK was "one of the biggest mistakes humanity has made."

    In September I was just getting my name crossed off and not putting anything on the ballot paper/s. But after reading the article + every comment + every link as well as these articles + every comment + every link thereof:

    It is looking like I will be writing a 1 next to the ALP. What sins they have perpetrated in the past six years pale into insignificance. This is so crucially important to Australia. The financial benefits to business, the economy, health care and education are justification enough. I will bet money that the Coalition's FTTN will definitely cost more than Labor's FTTP NBN.

    "The telecommunications infrastructure of the country is not to be taken lightly."

    "do we really need 1Gbps speed? I know we should be future proofing our technology today but I struggle to understand why we would need that much speed."

    "Because one day in the future YouTube will be streaming 8k videos.."

      FTTN rollout in the UK was "one of the biggest mistakes humanity has made."

      Oh god is that a legit quote? Has this guy never heard of war, nukes or television?

        It's in the linked ABC article, just after the video and yeah, I guess nuclear weapons might be up there as well. As for TV, three words: RuPaul's Drag Race.

        Last edited 07/09/13 5:43 pm

    So FTTP requires 70MW of power, while FTTN VDSL2 uses 140MW of power. I understand that the stage 2 VDSL2 with vectoring uses more than plain VDSL2. Does anyone know if stage 2 still uses only 140MW?

    Also, does anyone know what power our existing ADSL2+ uses.

      Yes I do, and it's proportional to how far you live from the exchange.

    The table looks at the project budgets but where is the total cost to taxpayers over the life of the project (out to 2033)? FTTP has a return on investment of 7%. FTTN will never have a return on investment. FTTP's total cost to taxpayers (out to 2033) is $13.5B. FTTN will have a total cost to taxpayers of $50B. (Interest + total writeoff of obsolete infrastructure + ongoing maintenance of copper + other OPEX costs + purchase of Telstra's 215,000km of copper which won't be free.

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