back to article The NBN questions Malcolm Turnbull won't answer

In the nearly three weeks since Australia's opposition parties released their policy for a faster-and-cheaper-to-implement national broadband network (NBN) reliant on VDSL to bring 50Mbps connections to most homes and businesses, oceans of digital ink have been spilled analysing the plan. We've been trying to add to them in …


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  1. Gumby1

    Multi Pass questioning

    I'm sure that some of the Vulture South followers could also submit this list of questions to not only Malcolm office but also the Ombudsman and Stephens office. While the latter would be more biased to NBN it may flush out answers from the former. I have a feeling that Malcolm just dosen't like the Reg.

  2. hitmouse

    The word "upload" is not mentioned anywhere in the document, so there is no indication or benchmark of return capacity.

  3. melts

    guaranteed speeds?

    one thing that stands out to me is actual connection speeds, and I think Malcolm should be called out on it.

    what is the minimum line speed that will be guaranteed under their FTTN proposal. From my reading of their announcement its no better than the current Telstra agreement, namely, you have sync so you have a working internets.

    Currently as many may know once you have sync and any speed at all the line is considered good and you live with what you get. Even if like me you sync at 10/1 in summer and 5/0.7 in winter you can't fault the line even though its obvious water is getting in somewhere and causing problems.

    I see this VDSL as a clear extension of that otherwise they'd be delivering not up to 25mbit but an actual 25mbit. To me this is the real rub as they should be frank about it. If you have bad ADSL now you'll get bad VDSL under the liberal plan.

    Does BT have stats on aggregate connection speeds for their rollout? I can't imagine everyone gets perfect speeds while re-using copper, and if I'm wrong then I'd love to see the stats to back it up.

    1. BlackKnight(markb)

      Re: guaranteed speeds?

      Just look up the standards for VDSL, Cisco has a nice graph too. The standard your after is VDSL1, as VDSL2 only applies to Hybrid coax, where as vdsl1 operates over twisted or straight pair copper.

      Your maximum speed is 55mbps with VDSL1, *IF* your within 300 meters of the node. "what coverage area will each node be responsible for is also a good question".

      upload is 3mbps max.

      after 300 to 1200m speeds drop like a rock tied to a rocket facing the governments black hole of a budget. After 1200m your better off on adsl1 anyway. all the numbers by the standard assume the copper is in good condition.

      there will simply be more people close to the "exchange" then there are today, other then that the real world improvments for 70% of population will mean you can download that movie in 30 mins instead of 90mins. and forget about streaming out more then your vga quality skype call (when its not raining).

  4. Peter O
    Thumb Down

    Typical Turnbull

    Malcolm Turnbull just throws a hissy fit whenever anyone questions his Imperial wisdom. His failure in his role as leader of the republican movement to get a referendum passed is testament to his inability to deliver.

  5. Winkypop Silver badge

    Details, details, details, mere details

    Once the coalition takes power, all bets are off.

    Mark my words.

  6. Roger Jenkins


    I think it's rediculous, the existing NBN FTTH is a complete package, a complete plan. People have been looking over it for years and problems rectified. Now, we have the Libs. with a plan and we have to ask questions about it, it's not complete, it hasn't been properly considered and the buggers expect to be in power in Sept. and have this 'new' NBN installed faster than the current one that is well under way.

    The fundamental question that Malcom needs to address is, when will they release a complete, full and ready to go plan?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rediculous

      There will be plenty of time after the election.

      Now, back to your toil, serf.

    2. BlackKnight(markb)

      Re: Rediculous

      The Libs dont have a plan, they plan to have a plan based on FTTN. 30 Billion to upgrade ADSL to VDSL..... I might go dig out my old 56k modem and wireless B access point.

  7. mikeinnc

    Why we will never get an answer.

    The answers to these questions are insignificant. The whole plan is a huge deception; a giant scam to convince voters that the LNP will 'do something' about 'broadband'. As a communications policy, it is a complete dud. A non-starter. There are so many holes in the plan that blind freddy could drive a truck through it. The only conclusion is that if the LNP gain power, they will immediately find myriad excuses why the continuation of any sort of Government plan for a communications upgrade is not possible (and, no doubt, most of them will involve horror stories about the 'unbelievable levels of hidden debt left behind.....'). NBN Co will be sold at fire-sale prices to Telstra, who will do the bare minimum in those areas where there is the greatest profitability. The Australian consumer will be stuffed for a couple of generations - and Turnbull will walk off into the sunset, clutching his brown paper bag full of used banknotes, courtesy of Telstra, completely disillusioned with the Abbot antics but confident in the knowledge that his shares in France Telecom are doing very nicely, thank you.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why we will never get an answer.

      So, just to be clear – you're alleging that Malcom Turnbull has received cash bribes from Telstra Corporation Limited?

      Did you miss the whole McAlpine-Twitter story?

      Hey, I'm just kidding.

      I'm sure Turnbull and his cronies neither read this site nor subscribe to any media monitoring service.


  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Staffing NBNCo, how will it be done?

    Good questions. You could also add some about NBNCo itself. Clearly the Coalition intend to purge the senior management of NBNCo. However a lot of the people working lower on the tree are taking below-industry wages because they believe in working on a Big Infrastructure project which will change Australia. When you change the nature of the project, you change the nature of the employee's motivation. Not to mention the demotivating effect of starting over, with a second-best plan. With no increase in renumeration, they are out the door. And even with no money you might find people working on the second-best option are giving a second-best effort.

    So what's the plan for staffing NBNCo, and in particular the tricky people issues? Because these are the very telecommunications industry staff you're also going to need for the VDSL rollout. This isn't an area Malcolm is used to -- finance naturally attracts people motivated primarily by money; that isn't so for national development projects.

    Also, a straight technical question. Telstra's first mile delivers more than the PSTN. When cabling, exceptions are tremendously expensive. So how are they going to be handled -- alarm systems, ISDN circuits, etc, etc. Obviously there will still need to be the option to run copper back to the exchange. Does this mean pulling new 100-pair to the nodes to support small numbers of customers? Or breaking out the street pillars with the associated downtime and risk of discovering that records dating from the 1950s are not entirely accurate.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Staffing NBNCo, how will it be done?

      "However a lot of the people working lower on the tree are taking below-industry wages because they believe in working on a Big Infrastructure project which will change Australia."

      WTF ? You have got to be kidding.

      No one voluntarily works for less than they can earn elsewhere. If they're taking below industry wages it's because there are non-wage factors involved like decent hours or work life balance or something.

      If anyone told you they're doing this for the good of the country they're deluding you or themselves .. or both.

      To put things in perspective, they aren't curing cancer or building a Saturn 5 or ITER or LHC or anything like that. They're laying fiber optic cables. That's it.

      1. Persona non grata

        Re: Staffing NBNCo, how will it be done?

        "No one voluntarily works for less than they can earn elsewhere."

        So there are no volunteer outfits? That's going to come as a surprise to the thousands working for them.

        For some people the idea of helping their nation/fellow man is a reason in and of itself. Not everyone is as cynical or self-obsessed as you appear.

        Quigley donated his entire first years salary, didn't have to. Some people are driven by more than self-interest.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Staffing NBNCo, how will it be done?

          " Some people are driven by more than self-interest." Yes there are but those people do more important things than lay broadband cables. Your rhetorical attempt to conflate the NBN with organisations like medecins sans frontieres is risible.

  9. silent_count

    Waiting for answers

    My questions are thus:

    a) What will it cost? Maybe I phrased that badly. How much will it REALLY cost?

    b) What will be delivered for that price tag?

    c) Why is spending that amount on networking infrastructure better than:

    c-1) letting the tax payers keep their share of (a)

    c-2) improving our hospital or education systems.

    c-3) housing the homeless.

    I've yet to hear adequate answers from either side of politics. And I suspect that neither side can.

    The Labour party threw it out there at the last election to demonstrate that they've got vision beyond, "vote for us 'cause we're not the Liberals". The Liberals bought into the game to show they've got just as much of this nation-building, "vision" stuff as the other guys. Neither party gives a shit about nation building, or broadband - they both care about winning elections. Now it's just another political football, with both sides saying they've got the best strategy to win the NBN game. Apparently nobody's asking if we should be playing the game at all.

    1. Paul 129

      Re: Waiting for answers

      $14B for telstra, and about $20B that cannot be backed out of already. So the Libs have to do something with it. The Scortched Earth policies of this current government are incredible. Hell the surplus they were going to have was simply from shifting the outgoings from this current financial year to the next.

      Just wait for all the social security benefit funding to run into the wall, set for 2 years from now. They're happy to produce all these reforms now, cause they wont be picking up the bill. Bloody economic vandals.

      I would love to see fibre to the home, but not at the price of this lot staying in power. This bunch is SO toxic, that it makes Tony Abbot look acceptable!

      The only way there's going to be a change is if WE the people actually get off our backsides and get involved with politics. It may be distasteful, but its not that hard. Go join the political party of your choice and MAKE a difference. You really can.

    2. BlackKnight(markb)

      Re: Waiting for answers

      from the 2012 budget Over 100Billion spent in welfare, 60billion on hospitals and 30 billion (federal only) on schools out of 370 billion + in expenditure, 5+ billion on the nbn in that year.

  10. Tim Bates

    It's not that bad of a plan

    It's a plan to start fixing the problem areas, sort of the average areas, and then get everyone upgraded later... And they're talking about the Buy Your Own Fibre option along with it all. Sounds like a better plan than Conroy's every increasing failure.

    OK, so they haven't talked telephony. Does anyone really think they know what they'd do? They won't know until they start doing it after the election. No point asking until they actually have a reason to give you an answer.

    1. Urh

      Re: It's not that bad of a plan

      Not that bad? Rubbish. For a start, the FTTN proposal requires the use of infrastructure well past its use-by date. Furthermore, a FTTN network which allows people the option to upgrade to FTTP is going to add to the cost (each node cabinet will have to have both FTTN AND FTTP gear inside them). And despite their policy document, we're still lacking a detailed breakdown of costs - except for the ludicrous assumption that the Liberals expect Telstra to just give them free use of the copper network (this issue alone could take a year or two to resolve, thus making it impossible for the Liberals to deliver on the "quicker" promise).

      Also, what happens when your copper line finally bites the dust? Will you have to cough up 5 grand for a fibre upgrade?

    2. BlackKnight(markb)
      Thumb Down

      Re: It's not that bad of a plan

      Actually it horrible, you dont upgrade from FTTN to FTTH, you rip out the FTTN infrustructure and replace it with FTTP.

      I'm talking about the powered cabinets, copper and switching gear changing fibre to copper. there spending 30 billion to build mini telephone exchanges and move them closer to you. (assuming they do telephone, they havent mentioned it in the "plan" yet.)

  11. Urh

    The biggest question he won't answer... regarding uploads, because he KNOWS it's one of the biggest weaknesses of FTTN. The reasons he has given for not discussing uploads are purely a smoke screen.

  12. OzDesmo

    Malcolm is ignoring me too

    Hello Malcolm

    I'm writing to ask about the implications of your 'broadband', and I use the term generically, plan for the future of communications both within and externally from Australia. Specifically, I'm interested in how your party's policy will treat those of us who already pay for 100Mbps Cable connections via either Telstra, or in my case Optus. Your plan 'guarantees' 25Mbps - I already have 100Mbps.

    I've read your policy release document and it's pretty short on detail.

    Will your party force me back onto a copper wire based connection, using a fixed phone line I don't use?

    What is the estimated cost to maintain the aging copper twisted pair lines?

    Does this mean my connection will get slower?

    What about the current governments agreement with Optus to move all its customers to the fibre based, 1Gb capable NBN? Will your party's policy force me to disconnect my cable connection and move back several decades technology wise to twisted pair?

    Will you force me to pay $2,000 to have the fibre I want connected to my house?

  13. andro

    this is surely going to be controversial, but this county needs fibre to the premises for the future. if the libs get from protest vote against labor they will do a lot of bad things.. waste $billions on a rubbish nbn that will set the country and companies technology investment back a long long way. Then they will damage or sell medicare, they wont invest in schools even though the education system needs some help. If you dont want to vote labor DO vote for one of the smaller parties instead. There are enough around to pick from, personally im thinking pirate party australia - worth searching them out if you think you might be interested.

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