'We Would Always Look At Ways To Reduce Cost And Time': NBN Defends 'Secret' FTTP Trials

A leaked internal document recently revealed that the company building the nbn has been trialling a reliable, cheaper fibre to the premises technology — which has the potential to reach of an all-fibre system to the home.

"It’s a matter of public record that FTTP is part of our technology mix and is the most expensive and the hardest to build," a spokesperson for nbn told Gizmodo today. "So naturally we would always look at ways to reduce cost and time."

STRINGER Image / Shutterstock.com

The trialled multi-technology local fibre network (MT-LFN) uses thinner, more flexible optical fibres and allows the system to bypass the existing copper wire network. MT-LFN was tested in Ballarat from 7 July 2014 to 1 December 2015, and in Karingal from 14 July 2014 to 1 December 2015, according to the internal document.

Because of the reduced size and greater flexibility of the cables used, MT-LFN reduced the amount of civil works required — cutting fibre costs in half, the document revealed. That's a drop from $1,200 to $600 per premises, according to a source for SMH.

"Cost Per Premises is published in our half year results (5 February)," a spokeperson for NBN said. "FTTP costs $4,419 per premises to build and is far slower to roll out than FTTN (which costs $2,300 per premises to build)."

The trials "showed that Malcolm Turnbull has been lying for months about how much it costs to connect to Labor's superior fibre NBN," said the opposition's shadow communications minister, Jason Clare. "It proves the only reason that Malcolm Turnbull is not connecting millions more Australians to the real NBN is politics," he said.

"It's outrageous for Labor to suggest the NBN has been misrepresenting the cost of fibre to the premises," responded Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield.

"Any claims this is a secret plan are nonsense. NBN actually announced that it has been trialling a possible solution using fibre to the pit in the footpath at its half-year results presentation earlier this month. The Government has given NBN a mandate to find the fastest and most cost-effective way to complete the network."



    Maybe its my command of English but does "... has given NBN a mandate to find the fastest and most cost-effective way to complete the network" mean "we've told the NBN to cobble together a 'slow' network using technology that will need to be replaced before it is even complete"?

      TLDR: the longer you take, the more chance that a better technology will emerge.

      Remember that the NBN was planned for years before the implementation and rollout began. During the time of planning , a particular standard of products and technologies was identified and chosen.

      This doesnt stop other manufacturers and technology companies from innovating new hardware and technologies in the meantime which are more cost effectice. You can't just keep stopping and restarting on any joint hardware software project, let alone one of this scale.

      If the NBN project felt it was not running to schedule, it would have done several internal reviews to look at changing things to actually finish the project. Obviously there is a better standard that has emerged which they have chosen for the purposes of getting it over the line. That doesn't mean it was necessarily viable or as cost effective at the point of time they commenced the project.

      Unfortunately this does highlight a major lack of skill on their project management team possibly setting unrealistic goals in the first place (possibly due to political pressure). In turn this can put more pressure on every team and generally when it is more rushed more mistakes will happen. When enough goes wrong more resources will then get diverted to fixing, rather than developing and completing. In that time and space new technology emerges to take its place and you get 'stuck'.

      If the technology they have chosen now WAS in fact available, as deveveloped, and as suitable as it is now then they definitely should look at themselves in the mirror.

      Last edited 04/03/16 4:57 pm

        Also remember they chose an inferior technology at the time to go with because 'it was cheaper' when superior technology existed (not the current, but FTTP did exist at the time). That sure didn't help.

    I'll put this out there. Im a conservative voter. A conservative voter that will quite happily admit in his own side has dun goofed. They have dun goofed, no doubt about it. While I don't agree with the way the NBN was originally setup, the Libs have squandered their opportunity. If you can get better results for a cheaper price, you admit you were wrong and proceed to fix it. Lets just hope that happens so everyone can have some fast cheap internets when all is said and done.

      Conservative voting aside, if anyone thought that gutting labor's NBN was in anyway in Australia's best interest, they need their head examined

      Well said, Seriously if Malcon turned around tomorrow and publicly said what you basically said then i would have so much more respect for him

      The biggest issue for a lot of people was that even if FTTN was slightly cheaper (obviously not all that clear now) it is still only delivering a fraction of what FTTP can. You can objectively say that more bandwidth means a longer life before obsolescence. If you have technology A and technology B and A provides 1/10 the bandiwdth of B then you know A will be obsolete much, much sooner. As an investment in infrastructure, FTTN is a bad choice as far as value for money, ongoing cost and expected life.

      The kicker is that increased bandwidth drives innovation. If you look at the history of google maps (originally developed in sydney) you will see that the early adoption of faster internet technology across the local market helped drive that.

      Furthermore, we are a country with unique problems of size and population. Ubiquitous high speed internet would help us break down the distance barriers. A better ability to work remotely in various ways would be a boon for business and employees as well.

      Such a missed opportunity. House prices aren't going to feed us all, and their GDP growth doesn't represent any real work.

    I've yet to see any lifetime costings - which should be the only cost that's important.

    A) How much does it cost to roll out? (yes, we have that one)
    B) How much would average annual maintenance cost?
    C) How many years before it'll have to be replaced? (due to deterioration OR obsolescence)
    * What is the lifetime cost per year? (A/C + B)

    This would have to be calculated in some detail, of course, due to differing replacement lifetimes etc. And it also ignores the many less-tangible benefits of a national broadband network (e.g. telehealth savings alone can be huge). But it'd make far more sense than throwing around the rollout cost A) only - how much more short-sighted can you get??

      You shouldn't make such a costing unless you can balance it with the amount of money and benefits it will bring. And many of the benefits can't be known until the NBN is completed and has been in operation (like with the phone system being able to dial 000 and get an ambulance or that being able to send 140 bytes, an SMS, with a phone would earn providers millions each year.).

    I agree that we need to look at broader costing. However I feel that it is nearing on impossible to judge accurately the lifespan of a technology like this, eg. telegraph, similar physical infrastructure remained for decades and the technology we used as end users improved to take better advantage of the physical properties of the copper. However recently with the internet the rate at which infrastructure has become obsolete has increased dramatically and I do not believe that even based on information the government has part way through the roll out can they determine the current network utilisation (Speed tier adoption in each household) or where internet utilisation will lead us. Video streaming and other media access has driven internet utilisation to an all time high and I think we are yet to find out what the next step will be. Until we know this the government simply cannot make an estimate on the lifespan of the tech.

    Wow $4400 for fttp, smart meters installed across Victoria were around $1500 and no one really wanted them but they were pushed through. I know it's nearly $3000 more but the benefits of the nbn compared to a smart meter are not even in the same ball park.

    Smart meters = public money spent to benefit a few private companies. No problem, all our politicians love that.

    NBN FTTP = public money spent to benefit everyone and most businesses in the country for the foreseeable future. Can't be done because
    A - one of our major political funders believes it may hurt their business
    B - purely ideological reasons
    C - it wasn't our idea so we will destroy it no matter what it costs the public.

    There should be a royal commission into the way this party has handled the NBN. Don't worry about a RC into a couple of union members, these guys are blowing billions and we really deserve to know why. Politicians of all parties need to held accountable for their actions and if they have broken the law they should be dealt with accordingly.

      A - one of our major political funders believes it may hurt their business

      Pretty sure the buck stops right there - forget everything else Ol' mate Murdoch dun want it.

    Yay! I'm pretty sure I'm on that cable - I live in one of those areas and have FTTP installed during that timeframe. 2 - 4 msec ping and consistent 95 - 99 mbit down / 38 - 40 mbit up connection on speedtest.net.

    It's good shit.

      I hate you....

      I mean I really don't.

      Not at all.

      I'm just jelly as shit. lol.

    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha !

    I've seen the fibre they are talking about being tested , being installed into Canada in 2006!! Basically a simple slit cut into the road/footpath and the fibre is put in the slit and filled.. Amazed they didn't do it this way to start with!

    I wish they would also always be looking at ways to make it not shit as well.

    The only acceptable cost and time is ZERO if the thing you are making is fucking useless.

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