back to article A modest proposal: dump the NBN mess on Telstra

Because Australia is now in an election campaign, various hopefuls are holding their breath in case (a) the NBN becomes A Serious Election Issue, and (b) the opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP) advances an alternative policy that brings fibre closer to the premises. The depressing truth is this: (a1) because of the …

  1. Jim84

    How has NZ beaten Australia?

    I tired to watch a youtube video today in central Brisbane. it would only load very slowly in 144p. When I rang Telstra they told me our service was not being shaped, but that there was too much demand on the whole network, as everyone is watching youtube, Netflix etc at the same time...

    But my mother in NZ now has FTTP. How has NZ achieved this where (better off) Australia has run out of money? Is it just Telstra bullying the government somehow?

    And how much longer will Australians be better off than their Kiwi cousins if shenanigans like this keep going on?

    1. ggm

      Re: How has NZ beaten Australia?

      NZ used a different financial model: the UFB is deployed by a crown enterprise which raises the capital to deploy a region off the back of getting enough commitment in that region to replace the pot of money used to dig the next set of trenches.

      The model is slow, but self-sustaining. And they get glass to the door. Its not without its problems, ask anyone in the industry in NZ if they are entirely happy, but if you ask if they'd like the Aus model, the answer is a wry smile and no. They're not stupid.

  2. aberglas

    They actually paid to Cut the Copper

    The NBN had to pay Telstra for the copper even if they did attempt to lay fibre to the premises (although access to the pipes would be helpful).

    The payment would have been needed because once the NBN was available to a household, they MANDATED that the copper be cut. So that people could not choose to remain on the copper. And to do that they had to pay Telstra compensation for making their network illegal.

    Why on earth would any sane person wish to remain on slow, broken and horrendously evil copper when they have a choice of fibre? Well, it turned out that when they did the initial roll out in Tasmania the vast majority of people stayed on copper because in the areas targeted by fibre the copper was good enough for what people used it for. Maybe Netflix will change that, maybe not.

    But competition with copper would have killed the economics of the NBN if most people did not use the new service. And that is why they made the copper illegal. And that is why Telstra could hold them to ransom.

    So they had to buy the copper regardless of whether they used it. Quite different from what the article says.

    The correct solution was to focus on the broadband black spots and make 2mbs a mandatory requirement on Telstra, like phones already were. Then cheap technologies like loop extenders could address that. Once everyone has that, then crank up the speed to 5mbs, which is plenty for Netflix. Then reassess options based on newly available technologies.

  3. mathew42
    FAIL

    Speed tiers killed FTTP

    The FTTP dream was killed by Labor's financial model which included speed tiers. The reality is that 79% on fibre have connected at 25Mbps or slower. For these people FTTN, HFC, wireless & FTTP don't make a noticeable difference.

    Labor had the opportunity back in 2008 to structurally separate Telstra and build a world class 1Gbps network. Labor should reviewed their policy after Telstra refused to work with them on their original FTTN plan. Labor talked about the opportunities that 1Gbps would provide (eHealth, eLearning, etc.) but planned to have less than 1% connecting at 1Gbps in 2026!

    1. Jasonk

      Re: Speed tiers killed FTTP

      Well Mathew only 7% on FTTN are choosing 100Mbps would that be becuase they are unable to receive such a speed. Kind of puts a dint in your claim FTTN average speed would be 78Mbps

      1. Mark 65

        Re: Speed tiers killed FTTP

        Well Mathew only 7% on FTTN are choosing 100Mbps would that be becuase they are unable to receive such a speed.

        That's more likely because of:

        1. Poor backbone infrastructure struggling to serve the speed

        2. Shit links off the rock. If there's poor links to the rest of the world then your speed matters less. I'm starting to struggle to saturate my 30Mbps cable connection, so why try for 100?

  4. GrumpyKiwi

    Hah, the problem is that all your Telco's are crap. None of them I've dealt with have had anything other than $$$$ in their eyes.

    I've had Telstra account managers offering me with a straight face the "opportunity" to buy 2/2MB fibre connections for the cost of a business grade 100/50MB connection in Auckland.

    I've had Optus account managers tell me that there is no doubt that the 5/5MB connection they were offering would amply support an office with 15 graphic designers all transferring in and out 300MB-1GB image files all day.

    And I've had Vodafone account managers try to convince me that even though their prices were twice what I pay in Indonesia FFS, that it was still a good price because they'd throw in a free iPhone.

  5. Oengus
    FAIL

    No "Get out of jail" clauses

    to deliver decent broadband as soon as possible

    Giving an entity a clause such as this is an open invitation for them to never deliver the product.

    For Telstra, 1Mbps ADSL over crap copper in the next century would be considered a definition of "Decent" and "as soon as possible".

  6. Winkypop Silver badge
    Unhappy

    The NBN is dead!

    Long live the copper

  7. Medixstiff

    Yeah let's give it to Telstra, who we know does not play well with others, so on top of the current tax payers funds that went into this steaming mess, we spend more down the track in lawyer's for the ACCC threatening Telstra with at worst, changes to their carrier license and then have Telstra quite rightly tell them to bugger off, all your internet's are belong to us.

  8. Medixstiff

    So considering FTTN was always a stepping stone to FTTP, Labor could at least say the Libs. agreed FTTP was the end goal and they plan to roll out FTTP where it was still possible and save face that way.

    Then let the Libs. try fire back an answer to that one.

    1. GrumpyOldBloke

      If Labor was in a position to carry that argument it is probable that Tony Abbott would be leader of the opposition. We saw how wee Billy wilted last time Abbott had him by his privates. Don't expect anything different this time. It doesn't matter who wins we all lose.

    2. DeKrow

      I see what you're trying to say, but using the argument that FTTN is a stepping stone to FTTP would also allow the Libs to use that argument to say they were "on the right track" anyway. The additional and on-going expense of powering and maintaining the FTTN nodes is one of the useful arguments against the Libs version of the nbn, since it's not really a stepping stone to FTTP.

  9. bep

    No copper

    I think the NBN is very much an election issue, in that it will affect the way many people will vote, regardless of how much each party chooses to talk about it. Everyone knows who initiated the NBN i.e. not the Liberal Party. Most people, I think, will believe that Labor will deliver a 'fairer' NBN whereas the Liberal Party will sell out to the highest (only?) bidder. My solution to the current mess, now that the Telstra and Optus hybrid networks have been bought and Telstra has been contracted to upgrade them, would be to for everyone to get either a FTP or hybrid service going forward, no more FTN, with a promise to replace all the FTN points 'eventually'. Certainly not ideal, but better than what we are getting at the moment.

  10. LaeMing
    Megaphone

    We have a national election coming up?

    I always have trouble keeping track of the petty small-time politics.

  11. RPG

    Get over it!

    I am over the purists bitching about the NBN alleged mess! Up front I will say I am on fixed wireless at 25 Mbps, having upgraded from a 2 Mbps xDSL connection. I have since disconnected from the copper network. In H1 2018 when I get my NBN capability I will evaluate what I need then. In all probability it will be FTTDp as NBNCo are apparently trialling it now.

    If the FTTP had gone ahead as planned by the ALP it would be at least 2030 before it would be completed. NBNCo V1 was in complete disarray. If the purists want fibre will then, let them pay for it themselves. yes fibre is the best approach, but everyone is screaming for government money, think NBN, NDIS, Education, Health etc. Where are all these magical billions going to come from? Australia already has an annual $40 billion deficit? I am also over people comparing Australia to NZ and other physically small countries like Singapore or some small European countries who have rolled out fibre. As a tax payer I do not want to fund a fibre connection to every premise especially when there isn't a generally defined need, yes some people may use more bandwidth and they can pay for the upgrade. I am sorry Netflix and other streaming products don't qualify!

    The latest NBN status reports states there are near enough to 2 million premises read for service, yet there are less than 1 million active connections. That clearly says that not all premise occupiers require the speed that FTTN provides, let alone FTTP. Obviously at some point they will all be forced to move over.

    1. Jasonk

      Re: Get over it!

      "If the FTTP had gone ahead as planned by the ALP it would be at least 2030 before it would be completed."

      Where is you claim Turnbull's was 2024 4 years behind his mess.

      "Where are all these magical billions going to come from?"

      Considering the original NBN was an investment to be paid back so no cost to the taxpayer. The current problem with the MTM is they don't know how they will get the extra $27B in funding to complete the mess. Or worst still this mess is only $8B cheaper than what Turnbull on review said he could have done FTTP for.

      "Australia already has an annual $40 billion deficit?"

      It was $13B when the Coslition started.

      "I am also over people comparing Australia to NZ and other physically small countries like Singapore or some small European countries who have rolled out fibre."

      Considering those countries are our competition for our innovation and ideas boom but already offer 1Gbps while we are building a network required to deliver on 25Mbps.

      "As a tax payer I do not want to fund a fibre connection to every premise especially when there isn't a generally defined need,"

      You know now you are paying for people that will get those speeds on HFC and FTTP you could be part of the unlucky that can't get any better than the speed you have now. But then ha ring to pay the price of a small car or more for the same speeds others get for free.

      "yes some people may use more bandwidth and they can pay for the upgrade."

      You realise that they are paying more for that upgrade.

      "The latest NBN status reports states there are near enough to 2 million premises read for service, yet there are less than 1 million active connections."

      You know that half or 750,000 of FTTP RFS is connected while only about 50K connected onFTTN 300k RFS

    2. rebekkap

      Re: Get over it!

      "As a tax payer I do not want to fund a fibre connection to every premise especially when there isn't a generally defined need"

      Clearly you have failed to understand how the NBN v1 was paid for, i.e. it was self-funding and not paid for by taxpayers.

      You have also clearly failed to understand how good planning for infrastructure projects works - you don't just build things for today's demands, you build them for the next 50 years. Someone with your lack of vision would have built the Sydney Harbour Bridge with one lane in each direction!

      "The latest NBN status reports states there are near enough to 2 million premises read for service, yet there are less than 1 million active connections. That clearly says that not all premise occupiers require the speed that FTTN provides, let alone FTTP. "

      Maybe they don't today, that doesn't mean they won't in five years, ten years or 15 years.

      "Obviously at some point they will all be forced to move over."

      Not obvious actually. It was obvious on the NBN v1, where the copper would be decommissioned, that everyone would have to move over (one of the reasons why the NBN would have been self-funding) but it's not obvious now the copper's not being decommissioned - which is one of the reasons why this version will be vastly more expensive for taxpayers. It's got crap speeds, especially upload speeds, compared with FTTP, and it's easier to just stay on ADSL than to organise a new install, if you're relatively happy with your service.

      None of this has anything to do with being a "purist", it has to do with recognising that it's really, really stupid to spend billions of dollars on an infrastructure project that's based on technology that's already out-dated at the start of the project, rather than spending perhaps a touch more (debatable at this point) but having the project be self-funded over the medium term and future-proof, because the fibre will last 50+ years, and can be upgraded by replacing the boxes at either end without touching the network itself. Nothing faster than the speed of light, so no chance of something physically faster coming along, only faster ways of sending the data thanks to new developments in compression, ability to send different streams of data simultaneously without interference, etc.

    3. aberglas

      Re: Get over it!

      You are forgetting that the first set of bullshit numbers saying that the FTTP could be built on time for 42 billion were totally reliable, whereas the all the subsequent bullshit numbers are bullshit. So it is perfectly valid to compare pie in the sky estimates as to what Fibre to the Premises would have cost and how much the current mess is actually costing.

      But what I really want to know, is how did you get 25mbs fixed wireless without the NBN? What strings did you pull? And how can I get it?

      1. RPG

        Re: Get over it!

        I am using a small company in Adelaide but I believe they are in Melbourne as well. The company's name is UntiWireless (https://unitiwireless.com). It is a newish company and despite some hiccups they go out of their way to solve issues quickly. They also have a faster 40Mbps services as well, but the tower I connect to doesn't support that yet. I am fortunate that I am only about a kilometre from the tower and it works well. I understand the range can be up to 12km's but I do not know what performance drop off there is if any to that distance. My service costs $95.00 per month including $5 extra for a fixed IP address and a 600GB up/down load limit.

        Not sure what you are saying with the "bullshit" numbers either the $42 billion is accurate or it isn't, I don't think any can gauge how much an individual connection will cost accurately, or foresee other issue like asbestos or any other conduit/pit issues. A lot of commentators seem to think that FTTP would have got cheaper as it ramped up, perhaps the actual cable might, but the massive labour content to get fibre into the homes would more than likely have gone up over the many years of the project.

        As far as mess is concerned, it would have been a mess regardless who is in government, expecting a start up to do the biggest infrastructure project in Australian history was a fools folly to begin with.

        1. Jasonk

          Re: Get over it!

          Well under labor the remediation of pits, ducts and asbestos was the cost of Telstra the only cost to the NBN was any delay like the 6 months issue Telstra had. Now under coalition the pits, ducts and asbestos is now the cost of NBN so it could cost nothing for NBN to access the coppor and HFC.

          Yes it has been shown around the world to have been. We had project fox that the new board tried to deny ever exisitef. NZ expected to get there cost down to $2900 this year $700 more than FTTN is now. In the USA gotten down to just $600. The best thing that Australia has is the lead in are pipes. Unlike the uk where the comment of digging up front yards have come from.

          But your forgetting history that the private sector didn't want to upgrade the network with the tender that labor was doing for FTTN. That same FTTN the coalition called fraudband but is now rolling it out.

  12. JJKing
    Paris Hilton

    Destroying FTTP was a political one and had ZERO to do with economics. Like all political messes, the ones responsible get to keep their massive inflated indexed against the CPI pensions while the poor old taxpayer pays for their egos. Why can't they for once do something for the good of the country instead of trying to make points so they can win/steal power. Liberal's fraudband only has to provide 25mbps for ONE second during the day to qualify that speed. With their FTTN pieces of planned crap and the mini pipe that supplies them, I will be getting a slower overall speed than my present ADSL2+ connection. WOW, faster, sooner, cheaper......NOT!

    I weep at the lost opportunity that this country would have had.

    [Paris icon as she too looks like she is weeping in despair.]

  13. rtb61

    Royal Commission

    It is real easy to get it back to what it was originally. Conduct a full investigation into the theft of 11 billion tax payer dollars by Telstra and News Corp and who was paid what, when and in which tax haven, for making it happen. Recover that money plus fines, double it, lock up a bunch of career criminal politicians and away you go.

    Some of the decision made by the new LNP NBN management were really, really bad and simply can not be legally justified and as such they can be held liable for them, they were just so shockingly bad, dig deep enough and you will find a money trail from those corporations back to the decision makers.

    It was a corrupt scam from the get go, the steal billions of dollars from the Australian Treasury, to hobble the NBN and slow it down to block competition and it wasn't done for free, the insiders made multi-millions in kickbacks buried in tax havens.

    Especially after the LNPs ruthless attack on the Labour Party and Unions, there should be a no holds barred attitude, in return, can send Toxic Tony to prison, than you should send Toxic Tony to prison.

  14. Chromatix

    Suggestion to the author

    I've always thought Schlock Mercenary's use of the phonetic-alphabet-initialism "Charlie Foxtrot" was both apt and eminently printable.

    Example here: http://www.schlockmercenary.com/2004-12-11

  15. Melbourne Gopher

    5G will be the NBN's real competition

    I have mobile service with Aldi Mobile which are a Telstra reseller. A few weeks ago they switched on access to Telstra's 4G network and dang it's fast. I measured it at 50/28 Mb in Melbourne CBD and 25/25 in my inner west suburb.

    Vodafone offer 18 GB fixed wireless on their LTE network for $60/month and Optus have a 50 GB plan on their LTE network for $70/month, albeit throttled to 12/1 Mb but obviously they could make it faster.

    And that's available today. Imagine how much faster and cheaper fixed wireless plans will be in 2020 when 5G rolls out, which coincidentally is the same year the NBN rollout is supposed to be finished. Even if there are no delays in the NBN rollout, I think 5G will be a serious competitor since everyone will be paying for mobile service anyway, and adding a fixed home wireless service on the same bill will be an easy way for the mobile companies to recoup the investment in their mobile networks. Unlike Telstra vs the Aussie gov, I suspect Vodafone & Optus are more formidable opponents...

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