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Labor and Coalition broadband policies – what’s the difference?

Broadband – in the shape of the National Broadband Network (NBN) – remains a key point of difference between Labor and the Coalition’s policies going into the federal election. Our politicians are not…

The two proposals for Australia’s NBN offer two potential realities. Lukas Coch/AAP

Broadband – in the shape of the National Broadband Network (NBN) – remains a key point of difference between Labor and the Coalition’s policies going into the federal election.

Our politicians are not paying lip service when it comes to these differences. There are significant variations in cost, in delivery types, in download and upload speeds, in business opportunities, customer experience and the so-called “future-proofing” of the network, depending on which version of the NBN we continue with. So what are they, and what do you need to know?

At the 2010 election, Opposition leader Tony Abbott threatened to scrap the NBN. But under Malcolm Turnbull’s deft handling of the Shadow Communications Minister’s portfolio, the Coalition’s Broadband Policy, released in April this year, recognises the need for a national, wholesale broadband network and shares many characteristics with the existing NBN model as conceived under Labor.

As with Labor’s NBN, an NBN under the Coalition will be a wholesale network, open to any retail service provider that can connect to the network. There are some differences in pricing strategies between the two policies, primarily around whether prices are uniform across the country (as in the Labor policy) or capped (as in the Coalition’s policy) but the service model is broadly the same.

Kevin Rudd visits an NBN fibre haul site for homes in Darwin. Shane Eecen/AAP

Both Labor and the Coalition will use newly-launched satellites to take broadband to remote areas, and fixed wireless to cover rural areas, where wired access such as fibre or copper is either technically unfeasible or economically unviable. But the key difference between the two policies is the network technology to be used in urban areas.

Labor will continue rolling out a Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) network – whereby optic fibre extends all the way to homes and businesses – while the Coalition policy calls for a shift to Fibre to the Node (FTTN) - whereby fibre is delivered to local “cabinets”, called nodes, and copper wire runs from these nodes to houses and businesses - in brownfield sites (i.e. established urban areas); and FTTP in greenfield sites (i.e. new housing estates).

Despite some delays in the rollout of Labor’s FTTP network, NBNCo - the company tasked with building NBN infrastructure - says the completion date for the project remains fixed at 2021, and that the total cost will be A$44.1 billion.

Cost differences

The Coalition’s policy calls for completion of the rollout of its FTTN network by 2019, at a total cost of A$29.5 billion. The difference in cost between Labor’s network and the Coalition’s network per premises is about A$1,000.

To put this in perspective, the recent rollout of smart electricity meters in Victoria cost about A$1,200 per premises.

In essence, the Coalition’s FTTN network will cost two-thirds as much as Labor’s FTTP network, based on the official cost estimates in each policy, but will be only one-twentieth as fast.

Speed differences

The Coalition’s FTTN network will provide download speeds of 50 Mbps (allowing you to download an hour-long high-definition television show in a few minutes) to 90% of connected homes, while Labor’s FTTP network will initially provide download speeds up to 1 Gbps – 20 times faster than the Coalition’s FTTN network.

Labor’s FTTP network will provide upload speeds of 400 Mbps – 40 times faster than FTTN. Upload speed is important for activities which require you to send data from your computer, such as video calls.

The speed difference between the two networks comes down to the fact the Coalition’s FTTN model relies on the existing copper connections between the node and the premises, while in Labor’s FTTP network, the entire connection is by fibre.

The table below summarises some of the key differences between policies:

In recent years, engineers in laboratories around the world have developed technological marvels to extract the maximum capacity out of copper, and these marvels are to be incorporated in the Coalition’s network using very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line (VDSL) technology.

VDSL’s higher speeds result from the use of different bands of frequency to voice calls, allowing data for multiple applications (such as internet connection and high-definition television) to be transmitted on the same copper wires. It builds upon - and is faster than - current technology used in asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) networks.

But the download and upload speeds achievable with VDSL are a tiny fraction of the speeds achievable using FTTP.

Additionally, with VDSL in FTTN networks, the further the premises are located from the node, the slower the speed. In addition, the speed can be degraded if water gets into the cables after heavy rain – as some users notice in today’s ADSL network.

What the future holds

ErvinNoordin

While few households need 1 Gbps today (the average internet connection speed in Australia is currently 4.2 Mbps) the historical demand for broadband network bandwidth has grown at about 30% - 40% per annum.

Today’s ADSL2+ network provides around 10-20 Mbps and many households find this to be barely sufficient, especially when two or three family members simultaneously access high-bandwidth applications, such as video on demand, gaming, or various kinds of home office applications.

Using historical growth figures, and allowing for future generations of ultra-high definition television, multi-view services, together with multiple TV displays in a single household, in-home video conferencing and so on, it’s likely that domestic broadband domestic customers will be seeking bandwidths of more than 100 Mbps by 2020 and about 1 Gbps by 2035.

Many business customers will require these bandwidths much sooner, as they begin to take full advantage of new broadband applications and services, and to develop innovative new online products. Historically, the development of applications tends to follow the provision of infrastructure. Applications that use increased speed tend to be developed only when those speeds are in existence or imminent.

Based on these numbers, the Coalition’s FTTN network will be obsolete by 2020, and will require major expensive upgrades after this. While it’s possible telecommunications engineers may find ways to squeeze a little bit more speed out of copper, the only way to move beyond the speed limitations of FTTN is to move the nodes closer to the home.

In practice, this ultimately means an upgrade from FTTN to FTTP.

Fibre on demand

For those who need more than 50 Mbps from the FTTN network, the Coalition’s policy provides for a “fibre-on-demand” upgrade path, in which a customer pays for a fibre to be installed from the node in the street to the premises.

Dan Peled/AAP

The cost of this to the individual could be in the region of A$1,000-A$5,000, depending on the distance of the node from the premises. Future upgrades of Labor’s FTTP to 10 Gbps and beyond will require simple exchange of the user terminal in the home, at a cost typically in the region of A$100-A$200.

The Coalition’s “fibre-on-demand” strategy raises the spectre of a digital divide between households, businesses and regions that can afford to pay for the upgrade and those that cannot.

To illustrate this, a graphic design business that uploads and downloads data to its customers, and happens to be located close to a node, will be in a much better business position that a competitor 500 metres down the road. This will arguably impede the economic benefits of the network as a whole, limiting the application of health, education and productivity-boosting applications.

This will mean the saving of A$1,000 per premise offered by the Coalition could easily be wiped out by the loss of long-term economic benefits of a high-capacity FTTP network.

Going mobile

Some commentators have argued the increasing popularity of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets decreases the need for the NBN.

Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

But a FTTP broadband network will facilitate this rapid growth in mobile broadband. Telephone companies around the world are now enhancing their mobile networks with an ever-increasing number of small wireless base stations located on street corners, in shopping centres, offices, and even in customers’ homes, using fibre connections from the small base stations to their network.

While NBNCo is not yet offering backhaul services (transporting data to a point that would allow it to be be distributed over a network) to mobile operators, Labor’s FTTP network is ideally suited for this. Because the Coalition’s FTTN network relies on existing copper cable to the home, it is generally unsuitable for wireless backhaul.

Energy implications

Energy consumption is often overlooked in communications network planning, but is becoming increasingly important. The power consumption of the Labor’s FTTN network will be about 70 Megawatts and the Coalition’s FTTN network will consume twice that - about 140 Megawatts.

The cost of this extra power is relatively small compared with the installation cost of the network, and this comparison does not include end-user devices such as computers and TV displays. But the increased electrical power consumption of the Coalition’s FTTN network will have a greenhouse impact approaching that of a city the size of Launceston in Tasmania.

What we know, in short …

The Coalition’s broadband policy offers a lower-cost network that will provide customers with modest improvements in broadband services in the shorter term; whereas the Coalition’s network will create a new digital divide and require major upgrades soon after it is completed.

The cost difference between these two alternatives is about A$1,000 per premises.

Labor promises a more future-proof solution that will cost more at the outset, but will stimulate broadband developments in government, business, and entertainment, and has potential to serve Australia beyond 2050.


A version of this article was published on the University of Melbourne’s Election Watch 2013 website.

Join the conversation

64 Comments sorted by

    1. Fred Smith

      Electrical Engineer

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      It is interesting that you mention what the system will cost over time. From what I understand the way the NBNCo is set up the only way it meets its retuen on investment is when it is sold post completion. (This is true either of either FTTH or FTTN proposal, so lets keep the partisan politics out of it if we can) It reminds me very much of Telstra, where government installs the infrastructure and then privatises it, with the corresponding drop in services. Might as well call it Telstra mk2 in my humble opinion. I cannot see the FTTN system being upgraded to gigabit in the future in this system. If Telstra were that proactive we wouldn't be in this situation in the first place!

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    2. Richard Ure

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Fred Smith

      @Fred Smith

      Here's a prudent need for fast speeds and I'm talking UPLOAD speeds: the ability to back up, not to an overseas based cloud, but to the physical location of your choice http://www.filetransporter.com. More of our family data is digital these days and I suspect even teachers will quickly appreciate the desirability of automated off site backups. It only takes a fire in the school to illustrate that point.

      The Coalition's roll you own fibre makes as much sense as each person being…

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  1. Trent Leins

    Program Officer at State Government

    An important issue that pretty much every article about the different nbn models omits is the price for speed. Providers currently offer their basic nbn package with download speeds of 12mbps - approx $20 per month extra gives you 100mbps.

    I think price will be a huge limitting factor on the uptake of high speed broadband in home with the current model - even if speeds of 1gbps is available how many families will pay the added cost to utilise this capacity?

    A couple of questions:
    1. When do the 1gbps speeds become available to consumers? Current plans that I can find only offer up to 100mbps.

    2. Will the coalitions model limit speed based on what the user pays or will there be a flat rate?

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    1. Phil S

      Physics PhD Student

      In reply to Trent Leins

      I think people will be upgrading to the faster speeds simply to increase their download allowance (which increases as you move up the available plans). Many people already do that with ADSL, so I don't see why it would be different with FTTH. Furthermore, I don't really see how that "omission" affects the case for FTTH. The point is about future proofing the network, so that we don't have to shell out billions more in 7 years time when we realise we should have gone with FTTH. The speeds available…

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    2. Ray Hughes

      IT Worker

      In reply to Trent Leins

      Yes, price will be a limiting factor, which is fine - not everybody needs the full speed of an NBN-style network. When they do though, they can pay more though because it will be waiting for them. It is much better for the limiting factor to be price than technology. When it comes to tech, the golden rule so far is that either prices come down or value goes up with time.

      The limiting factor of the LNP proposal is that last stretch from node to home, over obsolete and expensive (what, you expect…

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    3. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Phil S

      Phil S???,

      I think the author of this article, from a "Broadband Institute" (whatever that might be) is obviously going to be in favour of the higher speeds provided by FTTH.

      However, I believe that many such commentators overlook one very salient fact which is obvious from the take up rates reported in relation to the NBN at present: NOT EVERYONE has the least interest in the ultimate speeds being bandied about. A factor which is always overlooked is that in most cases one has to deal…

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    4. Fred Smith

      Electrical Engineer

      In reply to John Nicol

      @John

      You bring up a lot of good points, and I share much of your views. I work for a company that installs electrical infrastructure around NSW. As part of the Schools program we did a lot of work, and even schools with ~100 kids had fibre installed! Really takes the wind out of those "look at what we will be able to do in the classroom now" NBN ads! If the teachers were a bit more tech savvy they would be doing that now.

      Separating the difference between need and want is very hard for…

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    5. Phil S

      Physics PhD Student

      In reply to John Nicol

      John, I really have no idea why you are replying to my comment, but anyway...

      I suggest you read this: http://www.abc.net.au/technology/articles/2013/02/21/3695094.htm

      Just as video was almost impossible to view over dialup, holographic TV would be impossible to stream over ADSL (or even VDSL) (see https://theconversation.com/television-got-you-feeling-flat-switch-over-to-3d-holo-tv-15333 and the end of this one: https://theconversation.com/tupacs-rise-from-the-dead-was-sadly-not-holography-6641

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    6. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Phil S

      Phil S...,

      I replied just as part of the conversation - you made a point as everyone should and I responded as most people who have something to say will do. Otherwise why is it called the Conversation. If I offended you by so doing then I apologise unreservedly.

      Just a quick response for now.

      First, the graph of bandwidth tells me nothing about the demand for such bandwidth, just that this is the speed available over different years - and of course it will increase just as the use…

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    7. Phil S

      Physics PhD Student

      In reply to John Nicol

      John, usually when adding to the conversation you either reply directly to someone (like you have to me) or you make a "top level comment". Anyway...

      A) Read the ABC story I posted.

      B) 3D TV as we know it now, is not the same as holographic TV. Holoraphic TV will be extremely desireable. I suggest you learn what it actually is. Since holographic TV isn't commercially available yet, it is also no surprise there is no demand for it. That doesn't mean we shouldn't plan for it's eventual uptake…

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    8. Richard Ure

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Trent Leins

      "Providers currently offer their basic nbn package with download speeds of 12mbps"

      Early NBN subscribers are taking up higher speeds in greater numbers than were expected.

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    9. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Phil S

      Dear Phil,

      Yeah, well - I have apologised for perhaps crossing your threshhold.

      I think what happened was that I started to reply to you and was then distracted and came back to comment directly on the article - that is today's excuse and will do for now. I hadn't noticed many top level comments anywhere in the blog space of The Conversation but will now look out for them.

      Firstly, you have not “apparently” read my words quite carefully enough as I did not say that your support for…

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    10. Richard Ure

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      The statement about all schools having fibre is contested http://goo.gl/uvnh3. Many schools don't even have flashing school zone lights!

      As to "NOT EVERYONE has the least interest in the ultimate speeds being bandied about" -

      (a) this is a long term project so you have to be able to say: " in 40 to 50 years, NOT EVERYONE WILL HAVE the least interest in the ultimate speeds being bandied about "; and

      (b) remember the story about market research before the model T in which consumers were supposed to have preferred faster horses instead of cars.

      As to no need for the speed superiority of FTTH over FTTN see for example http://www.filetransporter.com. Try remotely backing up your photo and home movie footage at the undisclosed FTTN speeds.

      Can someone explain how roll your own fibre is going to work? Is a powered FTTN node the same as an unpowered FTTP one? I can't see it.

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    11. Richard Ure

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      "What becomes of the power supplied to a fixed fibre phone to keep it running when there is a blackout and some older person, who does not have a mobile phone, is in need of a doctor."

      Hasn't this one been put to bed yet. Most people (even elderly people) have cordless phones. The NBN is being planned for people many of whom who aren't born yet!

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    12. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Richard Ure

      Dear Richard,

      Thanks for your response.

      Yours is an interesting comment and made easy by your having arranged it in several parts. I do not believe I had claimed that Queensland had all of its schools connected to fibre as I knew it did not apart from the ones I quoted with very high speeds in Brisbane. Advice seems to be that both NSW and Victoria are so connected and the link you gave me told me that 96 of the 101 schools within the proposed NBN footprint already had fibre in October 2012…

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    13. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Richard Ure

      Richard, See my comment above regarding cordless phones - no power, no signal!
      Cheers,
      John

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    14. Lydia Isokangas

      Australian

      In reply to John Nicol

      John I agree its hard to justify spending extra money just so people can watch movies after waiting 1 minute versus spending less and waiting 3 minutes for the same movie to download.

      However I know of one use where its easy to justify the cost of the NBN: personalised medicine. The idea of personalised medicine is very attractive and is currently practiced to some extent in the area of oncology. Before patients of certain cancers are treated, oncologists will order genetic tests to determine…

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    15. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Lydia Isokangas

      Hi Lydia,

      Great to hear from you. Tauno rang me the other day and we talked for about an hour my wife tells me! We covered a lot of ground in that time and will be going to the Thornburgh reunion next month. I also went over to a good friend yesterday, Ray Kelly - who has just had a major back operation at 83 years of age, extremely fit man - who worked with Tauno in BHP. Small world.

      Also found out from Tauno that Anali Polvi is still in Finland.

      Back to the NBN. I am sure that there…

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    16. Richard Ure

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      John,

      If you have a spare day, check out http://nbnmyths.wordpress.com.

      From your response, I suspected you were a Senior Citizen and now you have confirmed it. I am retired too but a decade younger and like to think I look further into the future with more wonder as to where technology is almost certain to take us than you do.

      To draw a few of your arguments together:

      (a) would you agree that in the life of the proposed fibre upgrade (50+ years) much of the copper will need replacing…

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    17. Richard Ure

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      “Veteran telco businessman Justin Milne has endorsed the Coalition model for the national broadband network”

      while Vince Cern (whose vision is likely to be somewhat wider) says otherwise http://goo.gl/fusg4 and Peter Cochrane, former chief technology officer of BT, is also of the contrary view http://goo.gl/gLh3T

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    18. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Richard Ure

      Most if not all elderly people I know, have both cordless phones yes, AND at least one fixed wall/desk phone.

      Anyone who is for instance visited by a health or aged security person will be advised of the need and all security buttons in independent or otherwise, retirement villages have a fixed line phone. These will not be available without special conditions for the NBN..

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    19. Richard Ure

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      People who are elderly when the NBN is fully deployed are pre-elderly now and highly likely to have mobiles; smart ones even. Health and aged security people can advise the remainder to take the battery backup option.

      In my part of the world, the elderly are well supported by their neighbours. And not only when there are blackouts. Can we chop the head off this red herring once and for all? The argument is sounding like Tony Abbott's desperate whinging about the PNG solution.

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    20. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Richard Ure

      Richard Ure,

      If you say so Richard! You seem so very knowledgable about everything it is quite obviously pointless for any one else to hold a different point of view.
      John Nicol

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    21. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Richard Ure

      Richard Ure,

      From your first link, there was no comparison made between the two options we are discussing here; the man is in no position to suggest which is best for Australia in the financial situation the Labor Party, yet again, has placed us in. (Think Peter Beattie, Annah Blythe, Joan Kirner, West Australia Inc - Burke - Gough Whitlam and now Gillard and Rudd). After all, he is far too close to the business of profiting from everything digital to be able to comment on our behalf.

      In…

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    22. Richard Ure

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Nicol

      John,

      There was a spelling mistake in my message which you would have picked up if you had followed the link. If you are trying to convince us the views of Vint Cerf are irrelevant, you have lost me and there is no point continuing this discussion.

      As to “he is far too close to the business of profiting from everything digital”, how can you say this with any credibility when TCP/IP which he is credited with being responsible for is in the public domain?

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    23. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Richard Ure

      Richard Ure,

      Thank you for your many responses. However, I do agree that perhaps we have exhausted the exchange of our differences as indicated in your last post. I guess only time will tell whose views are the most relevant but you are more likely to live to see it than I am at 78 yrs!

      As a parting stand I will drop in my reply to your several questions challenging me, quite appropriately, to look again at my point of view. I have tried to be as complete as possible but you will undoubtedly…

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  2. Mathew Hillier

    Lecturer in Higher Edcuation (e-learning)

    "You can pay me a lot now" for FTTP, "or you can pay me double next time" for the FTTN interim strategy - would seem like a more accurate summary of the two options. Do it once, Do it right, Do it with Fibre.

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    1. Hardy Gosch

      Mr.

      In reply to Mathew Hillier

      Correct. Sums it up.
      The ordinary punter out there hasn't got the time or the inclination to understand the vital difference. The mediocre mainstream media will continue to obfuscate the issue and the LNP will try to sell Turnbull's Foxtel Fraudband.Network pup on behest of Murdoch and their IPA masters.
      Good article by the way for the discerning reader.

      Tell the public to link to and play with:
      http://howfastisthenbn.com.au/
      Cheers.

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  3. Henry Verberne

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

    A very good and fair summary of the pluses and minuses of the competing plans.

    I will say without reservation that Labor's NBN is superior on almost all criteria except upfront capital costs. Labor's NBN also "future proofs" the network much more than the Coalition's will (given the historical experience with data and speeds demanded) whilst the Coalition's is relatively lacking in this aspect. Over the longer term I think the cost difference between the competing schemes is small but the O&M costs of the Coalition are likely to be significantly higher than Labor's.

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    1. Henry Verberne

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

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Do it once, do it right: go fibre to the home!

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    2. Hardy Gosch

      Mr.

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Right. No LNP Foxtel Telstra Fraudband, thank you!

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  4. Paul Felix

    Builder

    Lovely to see sensible comments, to a good article.

    Thanks to all

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  5. John C Smith

    Auditor

    Don't we have a privatized communication? So let them set up broad band or any other band. Why should the government spend money on a thing that will only help overseas interests.

    Broadband is not going to improve my key stroke rate.

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    1. Henry Verberne

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

      In reply to John C Smith

      Well nothing happened if it was left to Telstra or any other private sector provider as they demand about double the rate of return on investment that the NBN will yield.

      To me this illustrates that nation-building infrastructure will not be built by the private sector.

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    2. Mark Jablonski

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John C Smith

      Because it doesn't just help overseas interests.

      Here's an example that's true because I'm very close to the couple doing it. They are in their 60s, and run an e-business providing office solutions, web site design and hosting, all that sort of stuff.

      They're self-taught, self-operating, and mostly self-sufficient.

      This is particularly important when you consider the health of one of them means they wouldn't be able to hold down a 9-5 office job.

      It provides both flexibility of work…

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    3. Richard Ure

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John C Smith

      "Why should the government spend money on a thing that will only help overseas interests."

      That's been reason enough for us to dash off to most recent wars. Our ports help "overseas interests" who want our minerals.

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  6. Natasha turnbull

    Student

    I understand that Coalition's plan also includes 20% FTTP for schools, universities, hospitals, commercial business complexes, government premises and greenfield sites.

    How do you explain or dispute the claim that Labor's NBN would cost $90 billions, not $44 billion as you mentioned?

    It seems that fast down loading movies is the only benefit for the majority of households, is it sensible way to spend $44 - $ 90 billions on?

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    1. robert roeder
      robert roeder is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to Natasha turnbull

      Natasha,The file on fact check here stated that the figure of 90 bil was an estimate based on assumptions, the labor party also made similar claims in regard to the LNP costings, I consider both to be puffery.
      There are so many new innovation coming on line. In the gaming world things like OMNI Oculur Rift and in a couple of years holographic TV. The speed of development is rapid. A game now is around 8 -10 gigs in the near future 100 gigs is conceivable, on line it's all about the ping.
      The LNP plan means that the network will need to be overhauled by 2020 the cost of this will be high, some would get an OK service others will be disadvantaged, under Labors plan FTTP will be available to all at a universal base price except for those on wireless and satellite. The LNP plan is shortsighted and ill conceived.

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    2. Natasha turnbull

      Student

      In reply to robert roeder

      Again, the only benefit of expensive FTTP you could demonstrate is for playing game better.

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

      retired

      In reply to Natasha turnbull

      Lets call remote servicing by skilled medical professional gaming. Let's called remote CAD and CAM gaming. Let's call remote surgery via robotics gaming. Lets call remote specialist education gaming. Lets call multiple channel video calling gaming. How about the latest developments of 3D printing and the transmission of those files, hrump, hoo hah, games too?
      That cave, it's save, it's solid, why leave for the house, when the cave has been there for thousands of years. There was another idiot liberal…

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    4. Fred Smith

      Electrical Engineer

      In reply to Robert Tony Brklje

      Good luck finding a medical professional that will accept the liability for diagnosing/operating on someone remotely in Australia today! If you do find someone they deserve a medal. You are missing Natasha's point though Robert. Hospitals/businesses/industry will be wired direct with fibre either way. The only way your comment makes sense is if people are being operated on/doing automated manufacturing in residential premises....

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    5. Terry Reynolds

      Financial and political strategist

      In reply to Natasha turnbull

      Natasha the only person that says it is going to cost $90 billion is Malcolm Turnbull. The point of this "Fact Check" article is to clarify it for the readers. The authors say $3,400 per premises. to connect every dwelling and office in urban and sub-urban areas - that is where homes and offices are close together.

      Google in the US s connecting up premises to fibre optic in Kansas City at USD$700 per dwelling. At that cost we could do Australia for US$7 billion.

      If Malcolm says it is going…

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    6. Mark Jablonski

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Natasha turnbull

      Hi Natasha,

      I'm not an academic so this report *might* be wrong, but not by much by my best efforts. Have a google for "A Snapshot of Australia's Digital Future to 2050 - ACS Foundation"

      It's a report released late last year, commissioned by IBM.

      While that source is probably biased, have a look for where an NBN-style network is worth $1 trillion by 2050.

      I've read elsewhere that similar predictions indicate that 20% of the GDP of first-world nations is like to be generated online by…

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    7. Natasha turnbull

      Student

      In reply to Robert Tony Brklje

      All the "gamings" you have listed can be achieved under coalition 'broadband plan - they guaranty FTTP for 20% areas, naming government premises, hospitals, schools/universities, commercial/business complexes etc.

      My question is why the general households need such high speed just for downloading movies or playing games at such enormous cost?

      You might run your business at home requiring mega speed, but this is only a very small percentage people in this situation. In this case , you just have to pay for the final connection and claim rebate in you tax return.
      Socialists/communists always want free bits.

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    8. Terry Reynolds

      Financial and political strategist

      In reply to Natasha turnbull

      Natasha, I didn't realize there were any communists in Australia any more. I understood that handful we had sixty years ago left this earth long ago or became disillusioned when the Soviet Union fell apart in 1988 and they were mortified when the facts come out.

      President Reagan had a joke where he said "he rang President Gorbachev of the Soviet Union and asked could he visit him on the 11th of July next year". Gorbachev is said to have replied, "wait Ron, while I check my diary, and came back…

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    9. Richard Ure

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Fred Smith

      Hasn't the Flying Doctor been doing his for decades. Ad on a pedal radio no less. If you were receiving such medical attention in the next 50 years wouldn't you prefer the doctor to be as well informed of your symptoms as technology permits?

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    10. Richard Ure

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Terry Reynolds

      And is she using a nice fast internet connection at her educational institution. Would she like to be paying the full cost of her education at the point of consumption?

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

      retired

      In reply to Terry Reynolds

      Here is a little trick to remind people of what goes on with a true broadband connection.
      A family of four.
      A mother in the kitchen logs and downloads an interactive recipe whilst preparing the family dinner and chatting with her mother in law on a vid phone connection in the kitchen.
      The father is in the workshop repairing the families mower and has logged onto the internet to download a 3D model of the part he is going to print of the family 3d printer.
      The son is in the lounge room streaming…

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    12. John Armour

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Terry Reynolds

      "He soon saw the error of his ways, resigned and became a conservative."

      Fred Patterson would turn in his grave Terry if he could hear you say that. He was a "troublemaker" till the day he died, a barrister who fought on the side of the oppressed.

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    13. John Nicol

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Robert Tony Brklje

      Robert Tony Brklje,

      1. Just as in every other aspect of family life, that family in your "trick" should be able organise itself to cope with its own problems, rather than expect others less fortunate than themselves to help to pay for their incompetence to do that.

      2. In any case, the father should leave his download until about ten o'clock, perhaps later or should have thought to do it the night before when he could have brought it down with an ADSL connection. (It is difficult to see, even…

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  7. Garry Baker

    researcher

    "" What we know, in short …

    The Coalition’s broadband policy offers a lower-cost network that will provide customers with modest improvements in broadband services in the shorter term;""

    ***************
    Do we really ? The gremlin in all this, is the fact the coalition will need the copper network, and even according to Telstra it is in a very degraded condition in a lot of places - therefore, will need a high spend to put it right.

    Turnbull has simply sidestepped this unknown as a…

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  8. Lachlan Hinds

    Dream Therapist

    Great piece Rod,
    the one thing I can't see in there is comment on reliability. FTTH of course has constant reliability with the optic fibre last mile. FTTN does not as it uses copper last mile which is greatly affected by rain particularly. Sometimes this is a significant reduction in speed, sometimes it is total failure of the signal. Reliability is vital for businesses and especially for those in their homes using the fast developing High Definition telehealth systems. Businesses need the predictability of speeds also to define their U/L & D/L times.
    Thankyou also for mentioning the impact of multiple users in one household, which ADSL cannot handle and fibre easily can.

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    1. Lachlan Hinds

      Dream Therapist

      In reply to Damien Giurco

      Thanks Damien,
      I've posted that on a tech forum for interested persons. Sounds like an excellent and intellectually stimulating event. Looking forward to the discussions.

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  9. David Hutchinson

    PhD student, climate science

    You mentioned the substantial energy difference... I've read before that this is enough to make up the price gap between the two networks. Is this correct?

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    1. Fred Smith

      Electrical Engineer

      In reply to David Hutchinson

      All the energy cost caluclations I have seen has been applied to the cabinets only. The FTTN proposal obviously has a higher consumption on this scale as there are simply more nodes. It is my understanding that these nodes eliminate the need for a powered box on the consumers end (as with the existing copper network) for voice calls, and hence avoids the battery backup (read maintainence/replacement costs) as with the FTTP consumer cabinets.

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    2. Fred Smith

      Electrical Engineer

      In reply to Fred Smith

      Would love to see some more detailed analysis on this stuff myself actually.

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    3. Lachlan Hinds

      Dream Therapist

      In reply to Fred Smith

      @Fred this PDF may help, also compares production energy & greenhouse gas quantities on fibre and Cu. Slight variations depending which model Cabinets/Nodes are used in FTTN model http://www.cmai.asia/sppt/CMAI-FTTH(CAPGreeneffect%20AnilPande).pdf

      @David For FTTN vans will also need to be running around Australia replacing the batteries every 5 years or so, plus other compulsory maintenance for them.

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    4. Fred Smith

      Electrical Engineer

      In reply to Lachlan Hinds

      @Lachlan. Cheers for that. Much appreciated.

      From what you linked in the case study they listed it looks like the FTTN proposal (which is a hybrid of scenario 2 & 3) is much the same. If we take worst case scenario (DSLAMS and copper to every building) it is about 15% more in total, as compared to the pure FTTH option.

      They show a huge difference between scenario 1 & 2 which I can't quite understand why. The difference is apartments have 1 connection and copper throughout as apposed to fibre to each unit, but it seems like they are making a fair few assumptions on building density to save 40% of the energy.

      Still, an interesting link. Cheers!

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  10. Fred Smith

    Electrical Engineer

    Good article Rod. The more sensible discussions we can have about the largest infrastructure project in Australia the better educated we all will be.

    Just a few little comments. In table 1 you refer to 22% primarily greenfield sites being connected with fibre, then just below you refer to 90% of houses being capped at 50Mbit. I assume that this is some oversight? Should it be 72% - those that are connected FTTN.

    Would love to see a breakup of the total funding as per technologies. I mean…

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