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Can Australia afford the Coalition’s NBN?

Consumers know well that buying a cheaper product often costs more in the long term when the cheaper product has to be replaced. This is true of the Coalition’s vision for the National Broadband Network…

There are two visions for the National Broadband Network, but what are the long-term costs? Lukas Coch/AAP

Consumers know well that buying a cheaper product often costs more in the long term when the cheaper product has to be replaced. This is true of the Coalition’s vision for the National Broadband Network (NBN): it may cost less in the short term, but not in the long term.

The Coalition will save around A$14.6 billion by replacing Labor’s fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) version of the NBN – which, as the name suggests, delivers fibre optic cable to directly to premises – with a cheaper, fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) alternative – which involves delivering optical fibre to a shared “cabinet” (or node), then connecting the cabinet to residential and business premises using existing copper telephone wires.

But careful analysis of the details of the Coalition’s NBN policy shows its FTTN network does not provide good value for money.

Dan Peled/AAP

As the Coalition is quick to point out, fibre-to-the-node technology is used in many parts of the world, but there are some major differences between the Coalition’s NBN business model and the model being used by overseas operators.

One difference is that Telstra owns the existing copper network, over which the FTTN technology will operate. In overseas deployments of FTTN, the company deploying the entire network is typically the incumbent operator that owns the copper network.

Deploying FTTN is clearly a good alternative for these companies because it enables them to extract as much value as possible out of the copper network before it inevitably becomes obsolete.

Unlike FTTN deployments elsewhere in the world, the Coalition’s business model requires that a full commercial price be paid for access to the copper network. The Coalition hopes it will obtain access for the same amount (A$11 billion) NBNCo has agreed to pay for access to Telstra’s ducts and pits.

That comes to approximately A$1,000 per premises, and pushes the Coalition’s NBN cost up to about A$29.7 billion, or about A$2,320 per premises. It will likely be the most expensive FTTN deployment anywhere in the world.

What will the Coalition get in return for its A$11 billion? It certainly won’t be a shiny new Ferrari - rather, a rusty FJ Holden that requires constant maintenance, love and attention to keep it running.

Mitch Mcpherson

Telstra has not disclosed the details, but there is anecdotal evidence maintenance costs for the ageing copper network could be as high as A$1 billion a year. Added to that, parts of the copper network will require remediation because very high bit-rate DSL (VDSL) technology – which will be used in the Coalition’s network to send data over the telephone wires from the node to the premises – does not always work well over an aged copper network, with problems such as:

  • intermittent degradation due to water ingress
  • poor wiring
  • old technology fixes such as bridge taps and pair gains, which degrade performance.

While no-one (including Telstra) knows how much it will cost to remediate the copper network to make it VDSL-capable, the cost is likely to be a significant hit on top of the A$1 billion a year ongoing maintenance costs.

Facilities-based competition

Another problem with the Coalition’s policy is that it permits facilities-based competition – whereby multiple providers of internet connectivity can connect customers via competing parallel networks. An example of facilities-based competition is the parallel hybrid-fibre-coaxial (HFC) networks owned by Telstra and Optus that run alongside each other on the power poles in many suburban streets in Sydney and Melbourne.

Facilities-based competition might seem like a good idea on the surface, but could have serious implications for the cost to the taxpayer.

hdaniel

Facilities-based competition means Telstra would be permitted to compete with the Coalition’s FTTN NBN using Telstra’s HFC network and any other parallel network that Telstra, other companies, or state and local governments could build in the future.

Those competing networks will be able to cherry-pick customers in more profitable areas, such as densely-populated inner city precincts, while outer suburbs and regional areas will pay more for access.

In short, facilities-based competition could seriously undermine the NBN business model, which is calibrated to provide a rate of return that enables the NBN to be “off budget”. Facilities-based competition might be an attractive proposition for Foxtel, News Limited or Telstra, who could do very nicely from a cherry-picked business, while taxpayers help to ensure that the remainder of the country receives a good broadband service.

Special challenges

At a technology level, the Coalition’s particular approach to FTTN brings a number of special challenges that are likely to be expensive.

The Coalition is offering a “fibre on demand” option to customers who need higher bandwidth than can be provided by the standard FTTN network. Fibre will be laid between the node and the customer’s premises on a case-by-case basis with the cost borne by the customer. But under this model there will be extra costs that NBNCo will incur.

Shadow communications minister Malcolm Turnbull. Alan Porritt/AAP

Extra space will need to be reserved in the node cabinets to terminate the fibres and connect them to the exchange. In essence, there will be two parallel networks housed in the one cabinet. In addition, the cabinets will need to contain equipment that provides telephone connectivity to each home. This equipment is located in the home in an FTTP network, but will most likely reside in the node in the Coalition’s network.

The Coalition has made much of the fact that many households are moving to wireless-only broadband access, and doing away with fixed broadband connections. In order to keep up with this increasing demand for capacity on the wireless network, wireless operators are being forced to install large numbers of small wireless base-stations, and to connect these base stations to the internet via fibre.

Labor’s FTTP network will provide the necessary infrastructure for this expected expansion of the wireless network, but the Coalition’s lower-cost FTTN network will not.

Will the Coalition’s NBN provide value for money? Compared with Labor’s FTTP NBN, which will be easily upgradeable to ultra-broadband capacity when new applications come on line, the Coalition’s FTTN NBN is a short-term, limited-bandwidth solution.

At a whopping two-thirds of the cost of the vastly-superior FTTP NBN, the Coalition’s NBN stacks up as waste of money.

Further reading:
Labor and Coalition broadband policies – what’s the difference?
News Corp Australia vs the NBN – is it really all about Foxtel?
FactCheck: will regional internet users pay more under the Coalition’s NBN plan?

Join the conversation

80 Comments sorted by

    1. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to John Kerr

      John Kerr,

      Are you actually suggesting that there will be no issues requiring repairs to the fibre connections in the NBN? These devices which split signals and boost them in long runs require electical circuitry which will, as now, require maintenance. On failure, the signal will not be a little weaker as is often the case electrically, but will not exist until someone comes out and carries out repairs.

      Another feature of the expensive NBN will be the monoploy preventing other technologies from competing, so everyone will have to pay the prices demanded by the NBN Co when they may well prefer to use a wireless connection provided by Telstra enabling much more flexibility.
      John Nicol

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    2. John Kerr

      IT Education

      In reply to John Nicol

      In answer to John Nicol:
      I'm no expert on copper vs fibre but my understanding is that fibre has much greater bandwidth (a figure of around x1000 times I have seen) and it can carry a signal a far greater distance than copper without needing to be boosted. It is more durable than copper and doesn't corrode. It doesn't suffer from noise and electromagnetic interference like copper, it is thinner (allowing more cables in tight areas). It also doesn't radiate any signal and, our data tapping US allies…

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    3. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to John Nicol

      John, when you build something, simplicity and the least number of component parts wins over in the cost and maintenance and upgrade costs phases any day of the week. And when you add to the fact that lumbering the project with old outdated parts that can not meet performance needs, it is all bad.

      The coalition is lumbering the country and the economy with a costly, outdated and poorly designed third rate version of the NBN. I hope you are not in business because over the next decade this heavily…

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    4. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to John Kerr

      John,
      While you write that 'the change in speed has been incredible', can you please inform us whether this has been an actual benefit and try to give us an idea if it is commercially justified, rather than just a new toy?

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    5. John Kerr

      IT Education

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Geoffrey,
      I was involved earlier with trials of using computer communications to connect skills and sparing teachers. e.g.: A country school without an accounting teacher can connect to a school that has one. The kids sit in on the class electronically and the communication is two-way. Worked reasonably well but was complicated. With high speed broadband this sort of thing will be dead easy, much cheaper and easier to implement. The idea was that every school didn't need to have all of the…

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    6. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to John Kerr

      Well said, John.

      One only needs to consider the difference in IT from 1995 when Microsoft brought out Windows to less than 20 years later. We need an infrastructure in place for capable of adapting for the future.

      As someone who has made do with second hand cars for most of my life (ageing Holden most apt metaphor) and learned basic car maintenance by default (I am especially good on cooling systems), I finally purchased a small, economical car (12 months ago) with all the airbag, blue tooth…

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    7. Robert Tony Brklje
      Robert Tony Brklje is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to John Nicol

      The is a disingenuous comment as Telstra has the monopoly on the last mile of copper under the Liberal plan for which they can continue to squeeze out maximum profit, regardless of the customers distance from the node and whilst paying for a 10Mbit services only end up with a tenth of that, ha ha suckers and that represents a significant percentage of Australia citizens in capital cities ie being set up to be screwed by the own government in order to maximise incumbent corporate profits.
      You kind…

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    8. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Robert Tony Brklje

      Robert I live in the mountains where thousands of kilometres of hotch potch labyrinthine copper phone lines are continually eroded by water, and regular drought, which both combine to expose the copper. Continual badly designed upgrades over 80 years, and a desire to cut costs has left us all with sporadic continual disruption to service, and usually no idea where all the problems lie. I'm interested in asking who's going to fix this 80 years infrastructure legacy?Also where they rise up out of…

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    1. Fred Smith

      Electrical Engineer

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      I didn't realise that Telstra have a say in where the NBNCo is rolling out the NBN. Do you have any correspondence or reference you could link?
      You are suprised that they patched a copper cable with a bit of copper wire? I am assuming that the storm did not rip out the cable from end to end. Not sure how replacing several m of damage cable with several km of fibre is either a quick or economical fix in such a situation.
      I understand that you want the government to give you a first class service for free (I mean who doesn't) but either way you will be getting an upgrade by the sounds of things.

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    2. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      Jack Arnold,

      Are yoiu sure it is Telstra which is restricting access to the optical fibre option?

      In North Queensland, my home town of Richmond and many other small communities (600 to 1,000 people) have the NBN trunk cable running virtually through the middle of their town but because the population is not regarded as large enough to qualify for connection to the NBN, they will be restricted to satellite, which is very much a second choice to ADSL and cetainly a long way behind the Coalition's…

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    3. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Fred Smith

      OK Fred, I believe that I am entitled to a metro quality telecommunications service because I am smart enough to live in a regional centre where there is fresh air, open spaces and little pollution. We have been connected to the gain pair copper network with all its vagaries, for an enormous profit to Telstra.

      1. The NBN Info van located our premises and advised no fibre service.

      2. Telstra apologised for us losing our telephone ground-line after a recent storm, due to 'maintenance work' replacing the copper wire.

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    4. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to John Nicol

      Thank you for your detailed reply John.

      I have battled Telstra for over 40 years to get a second rate telephone service that fails every time a cloud crosses the sky or somebody burps inappropriately in the rural exchange.

      I want the same metro standard Internet connection that my kids enjoy in metro areas so that I can keep in touch with them while the grandies grow up. Then there will be future medical apps that even now require high speed connections to operate. Why should I sell up and move to town to receive these medical benefits?

      Governments refuse to decentralise government jobs to urban regional centres so I have no qualms demanding the best Internet connection at government expense.

      If Senator Barnacle Joke had NOT used his casting vote to privatise Telstra for the benefit of politician's pensions, then Telstra would have paid for my connection out of their enormous profits.

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    5. Fred Smith

      Electrical Engineer

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      I am not saying that you aren't entitled to a metro quality service. From the sounds of things you are either in the satelite or fixed wireless footprint (as the NBNCo have informed you). If you are in the fixed wireless footprint you will get a 25Mbit service when the towers come online. If you are in the satelite footprint you have access to a 12Mbit service now, and 25Mbit when the new satelites are launched.

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    6. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Fred Smith

      Actually Fred it is more devious than that. NBN Co have made a unilateral decision to only roll out fibre from the exchange to the river, leaving about 50 households with a fixed wireless service should Optus generously decide to build a decent mobile network outside parts of the metro areas. Telstra have no present plans to upgrade their existing mobile service and expect to disconnect the copper landline service in early 2014.

      Telstra are presently refusing to repair faulty landlines and demanding that users take up a more expensive and less reliable mobile service, despite their established contractual obligations.

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    7. Fred Smith

      Electrical Engineer

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      The NBNCo are providing the fixed wireless service, not Telstra or Optus. This is part of the NBN rollout. Typically only those in towns with 1k residences or more are getting fibre, I assume that you are on the edge of a town or in a satelite suburb below this threshold.
      Telstra will disconnect those copper services where the NBN is up and running. I was under the impression that this was only going to be done in the fibre footprint areas though. Let me know if you have anything concrete on your copper disconnect situation, as I suspect there is some misinformation involved there somewhere.
      If Telstra are refusing to repair faulty landlines, I strongly suggest you take it up with the TIO, as it is against their contractual obligations as you say.

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    8. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to John Nicol

      John: "In North Queensland, my home town of Richmond and many other small communities (600 to 1,000 people) have the NBN trunk cable running virtually through the middle of their town but because the population is not regarded as large enough to qualify for connection to the NBN, they will be restricted to satellite, which is very much a second choice to ADSL and cetainly a long way behind the Coalition's FTTN." Are you implying that the small communities who miss out on connection to the FTTP network which runs through their towns, will be connected to the FTTN, which is delivered over the same fibre backbone? It sounds as though you are suggesting the small communities will be better off, connection-wise, under the Coalition's model, which I think is incorrect. I think, under either scheme, the small communities will receive the same level of connectivity - is that right?

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    9. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      No Doug, I am not suggesting that or at least had not intended to make it sound as though I was. If it came across as you suggest than I apologise.

      I was simply saying that most of the early hype in statements from the Government, Rudd and Gillard themselves in particular, were trying to demonstrate how regional areas would benefit most through e-medicine, commercial contracts etc. One particularly stupid comment by Gillard referred to a "tomato farmer outside Gayndah" who was supposed to…

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    10. Robert Tony Brklje
      Robert Tony Brklje is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      Want to know something interesting. I once did some work for Telecom Broadcasting in the nineties. The plan prior to privatisation was to have Australia NBN by 2005, that's right, we were all going to have fibre by 2005, prior to Telecom Australia's privatisation, we got screwed big time and they are working at doing it yet again.
      We elected liars and those lies are being protected by totally corrupt commercial Australia news services.

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    11. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to John Nicol

      Thanks, John. That's clear. I expect the hype is about the new, unthought of applications and methods of communication that will be made possible over a fast connections. For example, I live in a regional town and have to attend appointments with a medical specialist every month. If we had broadband fast enough, those appointments could be attended from the comfort of my home, rather than spending a day travelling to the state capital, having a half hour appointment and driving home again.

      There…

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    12. John Kerr

      IT Education

      In reply to Doug Hutcheson

      Doug, you may find that the consultation can occur in your home or, if specialised equipment is required you may find that you can attend a local clinic where the equipment is available with a trained nurse and the consultation can be held minutes from your home instead of hours. The specialist probably spends the same time working but the patients have far less stress, travel and expense.

      I can see the day when this sort of consultation will be possible for engineering, agricultural and a host of other problems. You can make use of a distant (even overseas) expert quickly and efficiently.

      I took part in such a consultation about equipment installation with four experts I had never met. We chatted for about an hour to resolve possible issues. When the four guys and the equipment turned up I felt as if I knew them. Being able to see someone as well as hear them makes a big difference.

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    13. Will Hunt

      Farmer

      In reply to John Kerr

      But do you need FTTP to do it John? Our country town, being midway between 2 state capitals with 3 fibre optic cables running through it has been well serviced with FTTN for 20 years and I have no troubles with it.We regularly talk to our daughter in UK with Skype, via the aerial on the facia board, a wi-fi connector & ipad and there is about a half second delay. FTTP is a total waste of money for the vast amount of bogans who only want to download porn.

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    14. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Fred Smith

      Fred, you need to get out more. The telstra stories I could tell you. They quick fix as a matter of routine, and the problems are monstrous. The "fixers" are good demoralised people who could tell you more insightful stories also, around here at least.

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    15. Fred Smith

      Electrical Engineer

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      I am well aware of the stories out of Telecom and Telstra. I currently work with several that came across to electricity back in the day (to an industry that is having exactly the same thing happen to it. At least they are on the other side of the fence this time, but that is another story).
      I would appreciate if you would refrain from phrasing your presumptions in such an insulting way. Get out more indeed!

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  1. John Crest

    logged in via email @live.com.au

    There is an "Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society"?

    Good Lord, what next!

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  2. Michael Gormly

    Editor at Superkern Design Pty Ltd

    My copper-line phone was out for three days recently because water - again - got into the old lines. When the technician came, I looked into the kerbside pit to see it nearly filled with loose earth from which a messy, twisted tangle of wires emerged. It clearly needed a complete rebuild but - again - a minimal, temporary fix was done. Meanwhile my Telstra cable internet just kept on humming. The author's "rusted FJ Holden" analogy is apt.

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  3. Nathan Grandel

    Exercise Physiologist

    Where does the author get the pricing difference of A$14.6 billion from? Fact checks would suggest this number is incorrect.

    http://www.politifact.com.au/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/aug/17/malcolm-turnbull/will-labors-nbn-cost-94-billion/

    “Labor's NBN would end up costing $44.1 billion if everything goes right. So far a great deal has not. Turnbull's estimate of $94 billion is perhaps high, but it's certainly not in Pants on Fire territory as some PolitiFact followers have suggested.”

    So the difference may actually be closer to $45 billion……..?

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    1. Nathan Grandel

      Exercise Physiologist

      In reply to Phil S

      The current NBN plan has already fallen behind in both putting down the fibre and expected household uptake to this point, so I don’t think it is an unreasonable assumption.

      The figure Malcolm Turnbull states from memory was a $47b difference (correct me if I’m wrong), so even if you split it between the 2 differences, it’s still a $30b difference in cost.

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    2. Rory Cunningham

      Test Analyst

      In reply to Nathan Grandel

      Again assuming that the coalitions NBN is on target and there are alot of doubts in the tech commuity that it will be on budget due to extra negotiations with telstra and extra mishaps (asbestos scares). Not to mention the additional maintainence of keeping the current copper operational

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    3. Peter Banks

      retired Civil Engineer

      In reply to Nathan Grandel

      But the NBN is having the cost blowouts at present in what could be termed the common part between Labor's and the Coalition's planned networks.

      Are you suggesting that a Coalition government will automatically result in vast improvements in the running and management of private companies?

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    4. AnnieLWells

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Nathan Grandel

      Actually the uptake rates are higher than expected and more people are choosing the higher tier plans than expected.
      The delays have not caused any budget blowouts. In fact, the opposition attacked Quigley over earning as much in interest as they have from selling product.

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    5. Phil S

      Physics PhD Student

      In reply to Nathan Grandel

      It is not an unreasonable assumption that the Labor NBN will run over budget (how much is still up for debate as the $94bn number is an upper bound according to most experts).

      It is however unreasonable to assume that the Liberal NBN will not run over budget, especially since everything but the last 800m or so is shared between the two plans. Malcolm Turnbull is also on record claiming they will get access to the Telstra copper network for free, which seems extremely unlikely and will add to the cost.

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    6. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Peter Banks

      Peter, can you please give some examples of business advantage gained from having high speed? While I do not argue that the basic surmise is correct, the faster the better, I'm interested in how fast and how much better. I'd not accept at face value that an increased speed in an existing, average business will provide benefits exceeding the cost.
      What areas, in particular, does extra speed help? How many businesses are currently retarded by low speed and in what types of operation?

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    1. Fred Smith

      Electrical Engineer

      In reply to Neville Mattick

      As a rural/remote internet user I am unsure how it affects you, especially to the point of political campaigning on this single issue. You will get exactly the same fixed wireless or satelite service under either proposal.

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    2. Neville Mattick
      Neville Mattick is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

      In reply to Fred Smith

      Fred; this is where users' deliberately "blur the reality" - let me be clear.

      I don't care what Internet I have it is not about the individual, but Australians' with the National Interest in mind will want their Doctors, Universities, Work Force, Security, Research Institutions and many more to have that FTTP service.

      It is principally the Work Force though; where an employees to owner / operators' can work from another office eg: Home Office without travel and have quality upload of data and VPN with Labors NBN, the Turnbull 'idea' will not deliver and is ultimately a patch on dated technology that will halt progress, cost more and all with higher emissions in those 60,000 nodes all across the suburbs.

      I agree with what you say about the services here / hundreds of Kilometres from anywhere (they are not at issue), what is though is another LNP 'stop gap idea' promoted by vested interests.

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    3. Fred Smith

      Electrical Engineer

      In reply to Neville Mattick

      Total agreement with users blur the reality. Doctors, universities and all other industrial and commercial premisies get FTTP under either proposal. I do wonder if people even read the policies before they start campaiging against them. The glossy version is even linked in the above article.

      Higher emissions with FTTN? I assume you are talking about energy consumption, with the FTTN cabinets requiring power. The main difference between the proposals is a chunk of power consumption is moved from the end points in FTTH to the cabinets in FTTN. The actual total energy is not significantly more. I don't have the research paper link I read previously on hand, but paraphrasing from memory it was somewhere in the order of about 20%. This is looking at the mix and methodology proposed - 72% FTTN, 21% FTTP, 4% fixed wireless & 3% satelite.

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    4. Jack Arnold

      Polymath

      In reply to Fred Smith

      NO Fred, we get a much, much better NBN service than the 'Nearly Buggered Notion' from the Liberals.

      Our copper wire speed peaked at ... about 3kbps and often ran <1kpbs. Now how will the connection to the non-existent fibre cable increase these 'high' speeds???

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    5. Fred Smith

      Electrical Engineer

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      As replied to you above Jack, the fixed wireless or satelite will upgrade your service. The NBN isn't all about fibre.

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  4. Rodney Edwin Lever

    retired journalist

    Excellent article. Can we afford NOT to have FTTN NBN? That rusty old ute drives the point home!

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    1. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Rodney Edwin Lever

      Rodney,
      Can we afford to have all fibre when our hospitals are in near-collapse because of lack of money?

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  5. Sean Manning

    Physicist

    My theory (hope) is that the Coalition (or at least Malcom) knows all of this already. If/When they come into power they will sit down to do the proper costing and then backflip on their plan and go with the FTP option Perhaps with a few minor structural changes. For example, the cost of connecting commercial premises or the cabling within apartment buildings could be borne by the customer?

    They can easily dodge any criticism by claiming Labour took us too far down this path and now it’s more expensive to back out.

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    1. Stephen H

      In a contemplative fashion...

      In reply to Sean Manning

      Sean, I wish I could share your optimism. Unfortunately, Rupert has far too much money riding on the Coalition to allow it to just turn its back on him and build a proper network.

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    2. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Sean Manning

      "My theory (hope) is that the Coalition (or at least Malcom) knows all of this already." Malcolm gets it: Tony doesn't. Will Tony submit to Malcolm's greater wisdom on this? Do pigs fly?

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  6. Rex Gibbs

    Engineer/Director

    Well he would say that wouldn't he?
    Its asking Clubs NSW whether pokies are a good thing - of course they will say yes.
    PS I live in an inner city suburb and we are in the 'not in your lifetime' zone in the NBN Co's old optomistic roll out plan so for me it means there is a faint chance we'll see the Coalitions NBN before my 14 year old leaves home when she is 30 and no chance If the Labour plan keeps going and that's even though I'm wearing my red underpants on my head as instructed. On yer bike Kev!

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  7. Fred Smith

    Electrical Engineer

    The NBN is a very depressing bit of policy when it comes to consumer understanding. Both the FTTP and FTTN proposals have far more similarities than differences. There is also considerable confusion as to the uses of such a system for the general population.
    The SIMILARITIES of the proposals:
    Both are supplying the same service to the 7% of the population covered by fixed wireless and satelite
    Both are supplying fibre to schools, hospitals, commercial and industrial complexes
    Both are supplying…

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    1. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Fred Smith

      You make some good points but I would suggest that all in all it is a better long term proposition to have FTTP straight up and "future proof" the network. Copper is aging and was never intended for some of the applications now in use.

      At the risk of sloganising: do it right the first time, with fibre!

      We'll end up there anyhow down the track.

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    2. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Boss

      In reply to Fred Smith

      Fred,
      Come on now! You write "Generally speaking, privatising essential infrastructure (power, water, comms, transport and finance) is a bad thing for consumers".
      Evidence? I thought blind Freddie knew that a privatised service was historically, on average, a better all-round performer than a bureaucratic clunker.

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    3. Doug Hutcheson

      Poet

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Geoffrey, "a privatised service was historically, on average, a better all-round performer". Do you have evidence for that? Privatisation of service also means privatisation of profits: how is that better for consumers?

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  8. Graeme Henchel

    Educator

    Over the past 3 months I have had at least a dozen calls to Telstra about my Internet ADSL connection dropping out particularly in wet weather. I have had technicians out 3 times. Every time I call it goes back to square one as if I have never raised the problem. The last technician came out only last Saturday and fingers crossed it has been stable since. But then again it hasn't rained since either. The point of this story is that this will be the ongoing experience of regional users such as myself as long as the need to use Telstra's copper network is required. The Coalition NBN policy is a giant con I think it will come to stand for No Bloody Network for regional users.

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  9. Garry Baker

    researcher

    Is it a cheaper product ? Turnbull has been very quiet about the costs of pulling the copper network back into shape - saying, he won't know until detailed surveys are done - Thus he has masked his cheaper option with a rider.

    Added to this, he wants to get into bed with a giant telco, which for all intents is an arm of the Peoples Republic of China - a company our own intelligence services have banned from NBN participation. Yet he absolutely needs their copper to the node technology to make his cheaper version of the NBN happen. So it is all too evident he has been talking with them, and a plan is afoot to do a political 180 with their involvement.

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  10. Theo Pertsinidis

    ALP voter

    There's a comparison at

    http://www.alp.org.au/labor_s_nbn_vs_tony_abbott_s_fraudband

    It's kind of like, the percentage of federal vote should determine who governs, get the most primary votes federally and govern. Get the most primary votes in your local area and be an official voice. It's one method that does two jobs. No distribution of preferences, alliances, coalition gangs. I wouldn't have a senate either.

    My attitude is federal is for things that matter to every Australian citizen…

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  11. Will Hunt

    Farmer

    The authors analogy of 'a shiny new Ferrari – rather, a rusty FJ Holden' is probably unfortunate. Shiny new Ferraris spend an inordinate time undergoing costly specialist maintainence wheras old Holden FJ's just go on and on and on.
    Do we need the speed?
    So may people these days have had their landlines disconnected and run exclusively on mobiles. When was the last time anyone sent you a fax? Do you read the news off your PC or off your ipad via your wi-fi?
    There seems to me little point in…

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  12. Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

    Boss

    It is good to have prior discussion of this proposal for an expanded broadband network.
    In parts of Europe, the EU is muttering that some large scale projects - particularly windmills - might have been rushed into service without compliance with the Aarhus Convention, which has requirements to give the public a say first.
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100232949/wind-farms-are-a-breach-of-human-rights-says-un-no-really/
    ........................
    Re Australia's NBN, there has…

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    1. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Geoffrey Harold Sherrington

      Exactly Geoffrey.

      With respect to units, I believe that these will NOT be refitted with fibre under the NBN because of the enormous complexity and cost. So those living in these inner city spaces will be no better off than under the Coalition plan.

      Complementary to that, "Green field" sites will receive Fibre to the Home under the coalition, which is the same as under the NBN.

      The coalition is being responsible in covering all of the existing suburbs where live most of the people who do…

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  13. Barry Nicholson

    Engineer

    Looking at other countries, like the UK, is a simple way of seeing what actually happens when broadband is rolled out in a measured and fiscally responsible manner. The naive view of utopia, clearly apparent in the NBN ads showing non-existent technology, such as floating 3D displays, will give way to the practical realisation that it was the "demo" before the reality.

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  14. Doug Hutcheson

    Poet

    "At a whopping two-thirds of the cost of the vastly-superior FTTP NBN, the Coalition’s NBN stacks up as waste of money." Shock - horror - gasp! Can it be true that Tony (Tea Party) Abbott is not fully across the implications of science and technology? Tony (Climate Change Is Crap) Abbott is planning to hobble the economy by buying a rusty old clunker for a delivery van, when a new model offers better pay back over time. A vote for Tony is a vote for Australia becoming a technology-poor nation. No doubt, the sheeple will have their say on 7th September, but it doesn't mean the sheeple have any understanding of the science Tony & Co. are blatantly refusing to accept.

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  15. Steven Waters

    logged in via Facebook

    as an x installer the copper network has many faults. every connection is a potential problem with moisture and leaks. in saying that i have no problems with my connection and i find the speed is fine. i cant see how i would need any faster access and not everyone wants to spend all day on the net. the labor plan is better of course but its like saying i want a Porsche when all i can afford is a Holden. where is the money coming from to pay for it and how long will it take. based on whats happened…

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  16. David Simpson

    Writer

    We are naked internode (iinet) customers and are working our way though our third fault finding process - in 12 months - to get our speeds to where they were for a short while. Each time - after checking modems and house wiring the fault has been in Telstra's copper.
    We live in an old suburb, but i reckon we've been responsible for several thousand dollars worth of costs (to Telstra) and its still not fixed.
    Based on my experience, assuming that Telstra's Cu network can reliably deliver at even ADSL speeds is wildly optimistic.

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  17. Garry Baker

    researcher

    And this is the problem, where it is all too evident that Turnbull has been publicly disingenuous with his costings. Indeed, he has evaded the issue altogether, saying he won't know what funding the Cu restoration program will require until they address their version of the rollout. Thus his nominated costs, which are regularly echoed by the media are very low end indeed. Added to this, he has bandied about a $90b cost for the LNP version, which is quite misleading. The fact is ( at least according…

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  18. Ian seddon

    Retired

    I am not competent to talk of the relative merits of the technology. One issue that continue to go without comment is the impact on business. Does anyone truly believe that the owner of rental premises will pay between $1500 > $5000 to connect to the Coalitions Fraudband without recompense. If the business chooses to outlay the funds themselves in their business interests what happens if / when they choose to relocate. They can't very well dig up the connection and take it with them. Do they simply have to pay again; and again.

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    1. Will Hunt

      Farmer

      In reply to Ian seddon

      Not at all Ian Seddon. I would have thought to unscrew your fascia mounted aerial from one premises and mount it on another 100 kilometres away would only cost you 10 minutes of your time

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  19. Gordon Webb

    TAFE Student & wanna-be Freelance Web Developer at Information Technology

    Please pardon my rather long-winded contribution, but I have strong views on this topic.

    As an ‘average Joe’ (read non-technical, or at best mildly cognisant) living in the dormitory town of Mount Barker, a satellite of Greater Adelaide, South Australia, I am more than a little concerned about the new federal government’s stated plans to emasculate the NBN.

    Mount Barker is probably the fastest developing town in South Australia, ‘outside’ of greater metropolitan Adelaide. Our telecommunications…

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    1. Rex Gibbs

      Engineer/Director

      In reply to Gordon Webb

      OK So don't quibble about the cost. You can pay for your own fibre to the premises and your own in house fibre and It'll all be cool. If it adds value to your house you can get a bigger mortgage. I will pay for my business as I paid to connect the 10 business lines and just as I paid for the ADSL2 gear in the exchange, just as I paid for my cup of coffee this morning. My kids can wait 30 seconds for their music videos so I won't pay to connect my house. If my neighbour wants high definition porn…

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    2. Michael Gormly

      Editor at Superkern Design Pty Ltd

      In reply to Rex Gibbs

      Rex and others, I take your points but the NBN-copper plan relies on an obsolescent, crumbling spaghetti of copper. This morning I took a photo of the insides of the inspection box outside my house - it's a revelation for anyone who hasn't seen one. I put it on a web page - have a look!
      http://www.myphotoart.com.au/telstra_copper_wire_nbn.html

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    3. Gordon Webb

      TAFE Student & wanna-be Freelance Web Developer at Information Technology

      In reply to Rex Gibbs

      Thanks for your prompt reply, Rex. Perhaps I should clarify the following:

      (a) I do not quibble about the cost of a sound replacement communication system. Messrs Abbott and Turnbull are doing that;

      (b) I do not have a mortgage (that is your invalid presumption);

      (c) I, too, pay for my own coffee, and I would only expect you to contribute to my web development business if you used its services;

      (d) I also pay between $160 and $180 per month for mobile broadband connection to meet our…

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    4. Neville Mattick
      Neville Mattick is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Grazier: ALP Member at A 4th Generation Grazing Station

      In reply to Rex Gibbs

      Rex; I have to support the eloquent dissertation of correspondent Gordon Webb without hesitation.

      In so saying my evidence is of another universal service - electricity.

      As a Rural // Remote business; in 1974 the Local Electricity County Council approached landholders in the area to 'run a HV SWER power-line to us'.

      Feasibility required my Dad to pay $2,500 - non refundable in advance of any studies or survey. Should one landholder object then the project would not complete feasibility…

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    5. Rex Gibbs

      Engineer/Director

      In reply to Gordon Webb

      Treasurer Baker delivered the world famous one way freeway at a time the state was near broke and there was no federal money. 200,000 southern suburbs residents have had a freeway speed daily commute as a result. It achieved 80% of the result for 40% of the cost of a full freeway and did it 14 years earlier. (it avoided the rock breaking and yes it was done on the cheap. Because it was complete 14 years before the real deal it has improved things for many.

      Schools, Hospitals, Police, Specialist…

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    6. Rex Gibbs

      Engineer/Director

      In reply to Rex Gibbs

      correction FTTP under the Liberal scheme as for the Labor scheme

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    7. Michael Gormly

      Editor at Superkern Design Pty Ltd

      In reply to Rex Gibbs

      Rex, I can't find this freeway via Google - can you please point me? I live above a 'One-way freeway' ie the northern exit from Sydney's Cross-City Tunnel (now in receivership for the second time). The problem is, the extra outbound traffic induced by the freeway has to return on the surface, much of it in my street. I don't think a 'one-way freeway' is a sound idea at all.

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    8. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Neville Mattick

      Neville,

      Perhaps you do not realise that the major hype given by Conroy and Gillard foir the NBN was the benefit to regional users in e-medicine, business for tomato growers (Gillard's example of "business"near Gayndah!)) However, none of these regional examples are going to get anything better than satellite of wireless under the NBN and in general that is a practical solution, just as FTTN is a practical solution, leaving money for other, more urgent infra structure projects. Townships under…

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    9. Gordon Webb

      TAFE Student & wanna-be Freelance Web Developer at Information Technology

      In reply to Michael Gormly

      Hi Michael.

      Probably the easiest way to locate the Southern Expressway is to go to Google Maps and search for "flinders medical centre bedford park SA".

      If you then shift the flag (for the medical centre) up and to the right boundary of the map you will note (to the west/left of map) the South Road/Main South Road dual carriageway. Zoom out a little and you will see the Southern Expressway a little further south originating from, then running parallel to Main South Road on its western side. It rejoins Main South Road near Noarlunga at Huntfield Heights.

      I hope that info. is not too little, too late.

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  20. Jo Vonhoff

    Sales Manager, Surfside Engraving

    Our online business Surfside Engraving has been based in a Queensland Regional area for over 16 years. When the NBN plan and future forecasts came out from the Labour Gov we weren't even a consideration nor were we going to be considered - if the Coalition devises a plan which includes our Online Name Badge and Trophy Store anytime in the future, then it works for us even if it uses up funds from paid parental leave - which we paid for ourselves without any handouts.

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  21. Lynnita Moore

    logged in via Facebook

    my husband AND I have been married for 6years now,we have been unable to conceive,4 months ago he moved to another

    state leaving me 2000 miles apart from him . I have tried everything possible i am very sad and hurt suddenly he

    started to hated me it seems one sec he love me the next he hate me when ever we connect he gets really angry for no

    reason and in a big rush and can’t breath around me and as soon as were apart he is fine he says i am very hot and it

    makes him uncomfortable…

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  22. Comment removed by moderator.