back to article NBN collapses* into chaos*

Australia's National Broadband Network, due for completion in 2021, has announced a three-month delay in its fibre-to-the-premises construction schedule, which if not recovered would represent a miss of a couple of percent on the project's timing. While declining to direct blame outwards, NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley told a media …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice spin

    Unfortunately, they will continue to fall further and further behind, because they will never match their unrealistic productivity estimates. Certainly the current government crackdown on 457 visas will do nothing to ease their inability to source skilled labour. The situation will only get worse.

    1. Esskay

      Re: Nice spin

      The estimates are unrealistic at the beginning of the project, as any are - I don't think any massive infrastructure project has ever met zero delays, particularly when the timeframe being discussed is one of many years, and particularly when the plan has the opposition roadblocking it at every step. It's like someone tripping a marathon runner in the first 100m and telling all the spectators how that person is definitely going to lose now. This early in the project, a delay is more of a political hiccup than anything that will affect the final timeframe.

      Not to mention the fact that as the rollout ramps up, it's entirely feasible that the targets will be exceeded - the idea that this is as good as it's going to get is incredibly short-sighted.

      The 457 visa issue only has an impact if the skilled labourers currently coming to Australia under those visas are moving into the telecommunications industry, and are certified cablers. As it happens, I believe a great deal of 457 visas go to people who take up jobs in the mining industry over in WA.

  2. LaeMing

    Brownfields? Greenfields?

    A quick net-search defines 'brownfields' as dis-used industrial land (possibly contaminated). No wonder they are behind if they are focusing installation so such places.

    While I can guess what these terms actually mean in this context, it is a very un-confident guess.

    1. Esskay

      Re: Brownfields? Greenfields?

      A quick net-search explains that Brown fields and Greenfields refers to parts of the rollout map which are earmarked for NBN connection within certain timeframes. They're colour-coded to make at-a-glance viewing easier on the interested public.

      1. Marking Time

        Re: Brownfields? Greenfields?

        Brownfields are are existing dwellings and greenfields are new dwellings being built.

      2. Steven Roper

        Re: Brownfields? Greenfields?

        As I understand it from a friend in the industry, "brownfields" refers to older, established neighbourhoods with ageing infrastructure (read: overhead phone and power lines that are due to be replaced with underground lines), while "greenfields" refers to new or relatively recently constructed housing estates with undergrounded lines. Since the companies maintaining the infrastructure are currently in the process of undergrounding the brownfields estates anyway, these estates are receiving priority for the NBN rollout, on the premise that they may as well put the fibre in while they have the trenches open.

        Here in SA, default undergrounding of phone and power services in new estates began in the mid-1970s (my parents moved into one of the first estates with no Stobie poles - our local term for overhead power/phone poles - at the time) and proceeded from there. So estates established since the 1970s will be among the last to get the NBN, excepting those which are currently under construction, as the installation is presently focused on the older suburbs and country towns where they are in the process of replacing the old Stobie poles with underground cabling.

  3. Chris Reynolds

    Bye, bye copper!

    The preparation for the fibre is currently taking palce outside my house in East Toowoomba. At present they're replacing the inspection boxes in the ground and cleaning out the ducts (at least that's what I percieve as I walk past. Relatively uninteresting photo here:

    I believe that the NBN is exceptionally ambitious for a country such as Australia which suffers a tyranny of distance. Fibre to the home shouldn't happen in a place as spread out as Queensland but it's being done.

    The way in which the process is being managed is, in my opinion, brilliant. Setting up NBN Co as a distinct entity from the incumbent Telstra should ensure equity and quality. Given that a project of this scope and scale has never been attempted before then I'm not surprised to hear of hicups like this.

    My only real criticism of the NBN is the decision to include the term broadband in the title. It seems that the public equate this with YouTube, Minecraft and Facebook rather than the infrastructure project that it is.

    With hindsight I would have used 'communications' or 'fibre' and marketed it on the potential to reduce costs and to have the best infrastructure in the world. Appealing to people's desire to save money and feel national pride would probably have reduced the instance of headlines shouting of 'chaos' and 'collapse'.

    That's my opinion, but then I will soon be the beneficiary of cheap 100Mb/s internet for less than my current 12Mb/s ADSL2+. I might be biased.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bye, bye copper!

      Downvoted purely because of the jealousy triggered by your final paragraph. Our Perth suburb isn't due to get connected for another 3 years or so.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bye, bye copper!

      I admire your optimism. If Willunga is anything to go by, the cost of ADLS 2+ 12 Mbps capped at 200Gb is up to $20 cheaper than NBN 12 Mbps capped at 30Gb. At those prices/caps, I'd rather keep copper (and that also explains why the uptake has been so low).

      1. Paul L Daniels
        Thumb Up

        Re: Bye, bye copper!

        Out here NBN will be $20 cheaper than my current ADSL2+ unlimited rural plan (12Mbps), so I can't wait.

      2. Esskay

        Re: Bye, bye copper!

        I've priced NBN plans as being cheaper than cable in some instances, allowing for either an increase in usage cap with a similar speed, or increased speed and a slight downgrade in usage (but still very high).

        ADSL2+ is great for those who live near the exchange, for everyone else it's balls. At least fibre speeds will increase with only a backhaul upgrade necessary in the future, and distance won't be an issue.

      3. Concrete Gannet
        Thumb Up

        Re: Bye, bye copper!

        Like the freeway (motorway) system, the NBN is for business, and consumers getting some benefit is secondary.

        While you can sort of download video over ADSL2+, upstream speeds are hopeless.

        Businesses will leap at the ability to send digital content to clients, to have feasible remote backup, to update their web site in a reasonable time, to remote desktop into their systems, to have videoconferencing, ... in short, to create bits as well as consume bits. The NBN's wholesale price for 100Mbps down and 40Mbps up will be $38 per month. That is revolutionary. Any digitally aware smaller business will get this the moment it becomes available.

    3. John Angelico

      Re: Bye, bye copper!

      We could go retro and call it say umm, CUDN for Common User Data Network (circa 1970-74, IIRC).

      But that breaks the TLA rule: it has to be a TLA or a pronouncable acronym, right?

  4. optic

    Brownfields == existing suburbs

    Greenfields == new suburbs / estates

    They probably wont meet their schedules however I don't have a huge problem with that, the delays will likely add a few years to the rollout and towards the end most people will have access anyhow. Besides as stated in the article, its a decade long rolout anyhow, a few months, even a year, who cares, its a worth while endeavour (but that is a long debated fact as well ^_^).

  5. TimChuma

    And the rest!

    There are some concerns if may be up to 10 years late already

    As will a lot of government projects that start out with good intentions, someone has found a way to scam it and will continue doing so until they crack down on it.

  6. John Angelico

    The delay is rather large

    To quote:

    "On Thursday NBN Co downgraded its mid-year forecast for the rollout by at least 34 per cent, blaming the delay on contractors."

    It's never easy trying to pick up that kind of a shortfall. And the delay of another 10 years could see the total cost of the project double.

    It's either bad budgeting or bad management, but I would say both.

    The original scheme was political - dreamed up (cooked up?) by Mr Rudd and Mr Conroy in a plane, to make a nice big number "42billion" (there's that number 42 again!) to trump the previous Coalition government scheme of FTTN at 4.7Billion.

    There was never a business case made, never any technical evaluation of what was possible, what resources and manpower were available etc.

    So the initial estimates of rollout rate were a guess, and are now coming unstuck.

    Well, I won't say I told you so, but this outcome was predicted!

    1. Esskay

      Re: The delay is rather large

      How long ago was the roll-out started? 34% might sound like a lot, but as has already been said, this early in the roll-out, 34% of not much is still not much - the marathon runner analogy applies just as well here, claiming his speed is 34% less than what it needs to be 100m into the race, and getting an "expert" to extrapolate that as taking hours longer to complete the race is only "logical" if you're a young liberal.

      Contractor issues are real, not dreamed up - the issues with Syntheo not hitting targets have been reported repeatedly, so going on to claim that it's "either bad budgeting or bad management, but I would say both" is ignoring the stated facts.

      Re - manpower, the main benefit during rollout is job creation, something of great benefit during a global financial crisis.

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