back to article nbn™'s problems were known – in 2008, a year before its birth

Australia's telecommunications ombudsman last week reported a startling and unwelcome 159.3 per cent year-on-year jump in complaints, with more than 40,000 lodged about services on the national broadband network (NBN). The usual tut-tutting took place and nbn™, the company that builds and operates the NBN, came in for …

  1. Jim84

    NZ vs Aus

    Somehow New Zealand has managed to build a national fiber to the premises network without too much fuss while poor Australian consumers are still suffering.

    Oh, that's right. NZ politicians forced the former state monopoly and owner of most the telecoms infrastructure to split into separate wholesale (Chorus) and retail (Spark) companies, whereas in Australia both governments of the left and right failed to stand up to Telstra.

    1. GerryMC

      Re: NZ vs Aus

      If only it was done a bit quicker. I've been stuck with a crappy ADSL (5Mbps) link for nearly three years. No VDSL or cable, finally due in December

    2. DainB Bronze badge

      Re: NZ vs Aus

      Or maybe, just maybe, NZ is 28 times smaller in size but 5 times in population ?

      1. -tim

        Re: NZ vs Aus

        If you discount any square KM that has 0 population, the population density argument goes away as the rest is more densely populated than the USA, Russia or Canada if you use the same metric. Australia is a very densely populated area with large amount of nothing in between. The nothing in between is cheap to cable.

    3. GerryMC

      Re: NZ vs Aus

      Strictly speaking, TelecomNZ wern't forced to split up. They just wouldn't have been allowed to be involved in the subsidised fibre rollout if they didn't. Government pays, Chorus (or other provider) own the fibre.

  2. TReko

    Skin in the game

    The problem is that no NBN CEO or politician is hurt by the bad service. The opposite is actually true. Bill Morrow and his NBN board took home over $10 million in bonuses last year.

    1. GrumpyOldBloke

      Re: Skin in the game

      21 newspolls under Turnbull showing the LNP being crushed at the next election. Politicians are hurting.

  3. Paul 129


    NBN was setup, as Telstra refused to cooperate with a fibre to the node rollout.

    The Tasmanian government had played with fibre comms via overhead wires on power poles. Some suggestions and back of the napkin plans via a certain senator, known for the following.

    "The regulation of telecommunications powers in Australia is exclusively federal. That means I am in charge of spectrum auctions, and if I say to everyone in this room 'if you want to bid in our spectrum auction you’d better wear red underpants on your head', I’ve got some news for you. You’ll be wearing them on your head. I have unfettered legal power."

    Telstra has refused, and undermined the process at every opportunity, and as a result was paid handsomely.

    Nationalisation of cable based communications services was always going to be ugly.

    By 2020 the NBN will be the new Telstra. Telstra's play of course, is to push everything to wireless and to damage the NBN any way possible. Is there any wonder, that they have oversubscribed their customer base? Or gouging, ummm prioritising 4G, for any backhauls they have control over.

  4. aaaa

    Ideology over good policy

    Good politics is to let the policy wonks in the public service determine the structures and framework based on interviews/panels/committee's of expert, representatives from industry and representatives of customers.

    Both Labor and ALP have pursued ideology over policy - insisting the design come from the minister's office, not the PS.

    All up though - at least the headaches may have been worth it with Labor's plan - the ALP promised to scrap the whole thing, but came up with the absolute worse case scenario instead: pay top dollar for minimum result. TBT it was Tony trying to sabotage Malcolm's career. Whenever I see it brought up I always assume Tony is behind any leak/headline/report - engaging with the mud slinging is just to Tony's advantage - which is something I never want to be tricked into doing.

    1. Poe

      Re: Ideology over good policy

      Labor = ALP

      Infrastructure aside, the entire process has been to replace a monopoly with a monoply. Frankly, I'd say it's right on track and none of the ruling parties have done anything to protect the public from the inevitable mess.

  5. GrumpyKiwi

    When I first saw the NBN announcement and how it was to be structured I wondered "gosh that is a really bad setup, how could things be worse". Then I saw what was done when the Liberal party came to power and realised that - yes things could be even worse.

    Frankly Australia your telecommunications sector is a f******g disgrace. If I could just sit smugly over in Auckland and laugh then I wouldn't care but my role requires that I regularly source new network connections for the company in places throughout Australia - and that is a nightmare.

    I'm being offered 2MB fibre for the same price as I pay for 100MB business grade fibre in NZ - and that only where it is available. Some places there is neither NBN fibre nor any spare capacity for DSL (I am looking at you Pacific Fair).

    If you are an Australian citizen you should be looking for suitable lamp-posts and gathering rope and rounding up telco executives. It seems like nothing else will solve this.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Malcolm sure has some chutzpah

    It was Labor's fault!!!!!!111111

    What a waste of space that man is.

    [Insert joke about string here]

  7. Pu02

    Something's up...

    When someone choses to replace (thousands of kms) of copper wire instead of implement fibre (or better) communications tech, it's plain that something's up.

    Not to mention the moment Bill Morrow (who is paid millions) begins making excuses for a telecommunications problems, escalating at a rate only Telstra could dream of, let alone realise.

    And simultaneously claim that the gravy train is running out of money, before the system has 10% of users connected.

    But what will cause a stir is the fact Mr Morrow is an American, telling the Aussies they can't have their Internets. Now the great unwashed are learning that a number of other 3rd world economies, such as NZ, have managed it without skipping a heartbeat- or chucking a series of hissy-fits (elections and plebiscites) in a misguided frenzy to maximise outcomes for the benefit of a few expedient politicians.

    Time to move to New Zealand! Even if you are one of the few to get fibre, your 1s and 0s will still rely on the work these bozos have (or have not) done upstream.

    1. david 12 Silver badge

      Re: Something's up...

      So know that we know what the problems are, and where they are located (in the interface between NBN and the retailers), and now that we now what the NBN is really for (TV, not medicine or education), and now that we know that the original budget and timescale were fantasy, and now that we know that the NBN is being left behind by wireless interenet -- in other words, now that we know everything that was bleeding obvious 10 or 20 years ago -- there are still people pretending that the node-to-house copper wiring is a relevant issue.

    2. GrumpyOldBloke

      Re: Something's up...

      Even the LNP realise they have an election losing proposition with the NBN. Their standard mode of governance - it's all Labor's fault - is not working as well as it should so they need to reframe their inability to take responsibility for anything. Bill Morrow's moment of candid honesty is just the setup to allow the LNP to write off part of the problem. Watch for our Dear Leader to ride in as the guy who saved the Internet. Sadly it will still be a dogs breakfast but at least some of the cost will be hidden and the NBN will be able to offer cheaper CVC or a better network or more executive bonuses. With the LNP racking up debt at a huge rate and the submarine farce yet to hit, what's and extra 20 or 30 billion. It's not like it is their money. Maybe with the off the books finance they can gift the whole sorry mess to one of their mates for cents on the dollar.

  8. Frank Oz

    The BIG problem for the government

    ... is explaining how they spent 90% of what it would have cost to install a full fibre network, to give us an NBN capable of less than 10% of the performance. And when you factor in that the MTM install time has blown out by 4 years (and will probably blow out by more) ... well, the whole thing looks like a project management disaster of epic proportions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The BIG problem for the government

      Th area of legals around telecommunications has grown into a monster almost as bad the tax act. Thanks to lunatic lawmakers and rogue politicians.

      After the Barrister and the boof-head tore up the legal work to date, cancel the 'last mile of fibre' (and it's associated fibre back-hauls), they invited their mates to a massive party thrown with taxpayer funds.

      I wouldn't be surprised if half the cost of the NBN to date or even overall has been admin and lawyers. That'd be a tragedy. The project should have been something like 90% engineering and implementation, 5% administration & support, and no more than 5% admin and legals, given the mess we have to date should be thrown out along with every last piece of copper.

      No wonder they have failed to setup support, and are proving unable to handle rudimentary troubles as they arise.

  9. Mat Bettinson

    What surprises me is the degree that the media has let the LNP off on their misdirection where the NBN's sole evaluation criteria is whether it generates a direct return on investment. Only 3%, Turnbull says, so it's a massive 'mistake'.

    In fact, many of the current woes stem from this. The pricing of peering bandwidth reflects this constraint of generating a return in short order. That is of course not what it should have been about. It was a bloody investment. The peer pricing should be lower, the NBN should be making a hefty loss because of the cost of deployment. Then we'd not see ISPs short changing on ordering the exy up stream bandy, and the whole thing might actually represent some kind of upgrade of the order that would actually help the digital economy and other buzz words the government is fond of using for things that are their idea.

    All the other sort of shit the government throws billions at doesn't get measured by this yardstick. What's the return on investment of those bespoke French submarines? How will those stack up against the stock market Malcolm? Some shit just needs to be done, the NBN is a total win-win, eventually the tax payer gets their money back and we get a nice fibre network. Unless you cock it up. Oh...

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