NBN's List Of Expensive FTTP Installations Is An Obvious Ploy

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This morning, NBN released a list of the 10 most expensive fibre to the premises (FTTP) installations rolled out under its original network plan. Despite the company generally staying tight-lipped about 'commercial in confidence' information -- including in its reports to the Senate committee charged with keeping it in line -- it's clearly happy to publish data that supports its government-mandated multi-technology mix.

The list, which was provided to The Australian Financial Review, News.com.au and The Australian ahead of its wider release, was timed to coincide with NBN's own announcement of the positive results of its first fibre to the curb (FTTC) installation in its trial rollout.

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NBN's explanation for the release of the 10 most expensive connections makes it clear that from a network standpoint, it definitely prefers the installation of FTTC, with digging and remediation costs responsible for the price of FTTP: "We are publishing the data to demonstrate the potential cost savings that will be available following our introduction of Fibre-to-the-Curb (FTTC) technology on the nbn broadband access network next year. The data shows that the primary cost driver behind these expensive FTTP connections is the cost of going from the street to the end-user premises itself.

"Much of this cost is incurred digging up extremely long driveways to lay new conduit and then running new fibre into the premises, but can also be incurred in remediating urban streets when nbn has had to cut through footpaths to deploy new fibre. By introducing FTTC into our Multi Technology Mix deployment we can remove the need to do this by using the existing copper lines serving the premises rather than running in new fibre all the way to the premises."

The average cost of a FTTP connection according to NBN is $4400 -- a figure first announced some time ago, and one that includes the cost of all early installations -- including these 10 most expensive outliers. NBN says the average cost of a fibre to the curb (FTTC) installation, a technology still in its infancy and barely rolled out beyond the suburb of Coburg in Melbourne's north, is $2900. Earlier this year, the NBN company pegged the cost of a fibre to the node (FTTN) hookup at around $2200, similar to the cost incurred switching over a premises already connected to an existing hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network.

It's obvious that NBN is bringing up this list of expensive installations at a time when it's ready to champion a new technology -- even one still in testing -- that it thinks will solve many of its installation problems. Cherry-picking this data just after it rubbished comparisons with the cheaper FTTP installations done by Chorus in New Zealand makes the ploy even more obvious.

FTTC is a promising technology, but in its infancy -- by NBN's own admission, still in trials. The installation of FTTN has not been trouble-free, either. It was revealed in July that only 1 per cent of low-density 'micronode' installations were in service, with almost 1500 micronodes serving tens of thousands of premises unable to use their NBN connections in areas that had been marked as ready for service.

The original goal of the NBN was always to equitably connect all Australian premises possible, with the understanding that cheaper installations in urban areas would offset the necessarily higher cost of rolling fibre to rural and remote parts of the country. Fibre to the curb is a far more equitable and future-friendly technology than the millions of fibre to the node connections already made -- which rely on a much longer tail of copper to connect premises and NBN fibre distribution box, resulting in wildly variable speed results.

Rubbishing FTTP, though, ignores the advancements made by other countries in rolling fibre at affordable cost -- and closes the door to its widespread use by NBN in the future. It's an understandable move from the NBN company, but a disappointing one.

You can download the list, annotated with NBN's cost explanations, here.



    Can someone tell me if they replace unserviceable copper with fibre or copper? and if they do replace it, do they charge for it?

      At your expense (usually). And it's not cheap.

      What's unserviceable about it, exactly?

      Last edited 23/10/17 10:47 am

      The resounding answer to that is maybe. From my experiences installing nodes and hauling NBN fibre to those (don't even get me started about the NBNs sub-par ribbon fibre). From what I saw is that predominately the wouldn't. They would run new copper to the Christmas trees (not sure of their technical name) from the node. Never ran new copper any other time except once, when everyone did complain about their connection while we were still building the nodes.

      I'm in a brand new house and I got bloody copper. Does that answer your question?

      If your copper is unservicable (it doesn't work) you should be able to get Telstra or whomever to fix it. I would get onto this quickly before fibre gets in and it becomes a football between them and NBN.

    What really gets my goat is the constant reference to a "multi-technology mix", as if that's a good thing. "Multi-technology mix" translates to "budget-driven Frankenstein network".

      MTM = Malcolm Turnbull's Mess

      It is a technical nightmare.

      Turnbull's propaganda is reminiscent of a despotic totalitarian regime.

      Last edited 23/10/17 9:30 pm

    1. Digging up a long driveway to put in fibre is no big deal in the scheme of things as the fibre will be in place (barring misadventure) for generations.
    2. What about the easy wins where you run fibre to a new apartment block that was pre-wired in anticipation for the NBN arriving? Do you whine about those?

    This morning the Prime Minister kicked the political football... blaming Labour every second he has got on media, well the Liberal party has been in charge of the program just as long as labour has and all its ignorance (especially for the former communications minister with extensive legal and financial experience) to up and change the deliverable technology and not resolve any of the underlying issues is your parties fault, your in charge, stop passing the blame, and resolve this.

    Given all the talk about infrastructure investment, this is the road of the future "the proverbial information superhighway" and they are not putting their best technology or best management skills behind this is a joke. ICT and Telecommunications are the largest industries in Australia and needs to be supported with the best infrastructure.

      I'd argue the Liberals have been in charge longer now. Labor really only started rolling out when they started the Stage 2 rollout in August 2011, meaning they only actually rolled out for around 2 years. Stage 1 was a large scale trial, and something that they could have changed or backed out of if they'd wanted.

      And as the Liberals have been rolling out for 4 years versus 2, its well past the point where they can keep playing the blame game. This is now all on them.

    I generally stay away from the NBN topics, but as a guy that started out as an apprentice line installer, I grew to understand how hard it was sometimes to get pops in. Running cables and installing any type of node into a building was at times, labour intensive, expensive and hard work. One cannot escape the reality that installing cables at times, costs a lot.
    I'm sorry, I don't know much about the politics of the NBN, I just hated running fuckin cable!

      Cool story bro. It's also just as hard to build roads, bridges and other infrastructure that will last for years to come and help the country move forward. Would we want the cheapest road and bridges?

        Regardless of whether you want them, under competitive tendering, you are getting the cheapest roads and bridges.

        lol, when the NBN is involved you can bet someone totally misreads a post, thats why I never comment on it, people just go insane over it. Thanks for liking my story!
        But I never said we should be building cheap shit (where did I say that?) I just said, running fuckin cable can cost a lot. Learn to read!

    FTTC seems like a step in the right direction at least. But...

    Much of this cost is incurred digging up extremely long driveways to lay new conduit and then running new fibre into the premises

    What about the goodly proportion of cabling in Australia that is *not* buried? pretty sure running some new line from a telegraph pole to a house isn't that expensive...

    Also, what about short driveways? They seem to be cherry picking cases that are the most difficult to justify not doing FTTP generally.

      That's the whole point of this article....they're reporting on the very worst jobs they've come across, where everything has gone wrong, and pretending that these are somehow representative of the whole network and a justification to avoid such installations. It's an excuse, and not a very good one.

      Clearly, there are plenty of installations that are fast and straight-forward.

    one of our client (a hotel) had Telstra quote them of a Fibre to the premises link and they were quotes $14000.00 even though the node is literally 20 meters away.
    I have a feeling they are quoting outrageous numbers because they don't actually want that many people going full fibre into the network.

      That's what's called a f***-off quote in the biz.

    Why didn't they just hang the fibre across the power poles like they did with coaxial. It would be the cheapest way to get it to the premises as well.

    Given they're all at different stages of the rollout, I'd like to see the outliers excluded & instead see the mean within 1 and 2 standard deviations. I mean, if high school stats is too advanced for these guys, we really don't need an NBN after all. Definitely not the clever country.

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