Premium content

To access premium content, please log in or set up a subscription. It's quick and easy.

More from Business Spectator


Please login or register to post comments

Comments Policy »

I am living in the country I will be so happy if the NBN will continue to belong to the taxpayers to enjoy the profits that will contribute to better services not just via the NBN it's self but the contribution of profits in the years ahead to the government (taxpayers) coffers

When has Conroy been open about this ? I do not know . Can anyone help?

That's correct Stephen why have the Rolls Royce when we can have the Morris Minor ( No offence to the latter}

I don't want a Rolls Royce!


I live in an area with so called 100 Mbit cable which at the quietest of periods gets 34 down and 0.14 up. Anyone who creates video, CAD files, or any visual content will go crazy trying to compete or even work with a customer who is used to a fibre connection.
Today I downloaded a model of a 300 kg part out of a 10 tonne machine. It will take half an hour to an hour to send a slightly modified file to my client. 3 or 4 iterations and time differences will mean a one day project takes 3 or 4 days.

Around the world we have 4 more years of experience with FTP and it has proved more reliable and more expandable than originally expected, Google fibre in Kansas city is running at 1 Gb on similar infrastructure to that the NBN is using.

Contention, determinism, scalability and reliability are all much worse with cable so performance degrades much faster as load increases, and it would be quite unreliable for applications such as the smart grid or high performance interactive applications.

4k television was not envisioned 4 years ago. Now it is becoming a reality and 8k is in trials. 4k needs 32 times the bandwidth of HD television. The "internet of things" is expanding daily and according to Cisco internet traffic will increase by 4 times in the next 4 years and probably between 16 and 32 times by the time the NBN is completed.

A senior manager from BT has been quoted as saying that FTN is the greatest con hoisted on the general population for the last 20 years.

In view of all the above, why would anyone build the equivalent of a 2 lane Sydney Harbour or Westgate bridge rather than the forty to 60 year solution because the 2 lane version is cheaper. In both cases a few extra ferries could have carried the traffic at the time for even lest cost. FTn is the two lane bridge and HFC cable is the ferry solution.

Mighty fine summation, Peter. I'll throw in, based on personal experience, the number of times my cable broadband drops out, or becomes flukey. Travelling technicians tell me many of the signal losses are due to length of the cable from the pole on the opposite side of the street, to the box on the side of the house. Seems reasonable, given high winds exacerbate the problem.

And, personally I remain skeptical about predictive documents signed by one G. Samuel. He seemed to invest an awful lot of the family's dosh on the future of a certain DFO outlet in Melbourne. Don't think that prediction worked out too well.

After reading yesterday's Victorian State Government latest "plan" for upgrading public transport in around 20 years time, I reckon any piece of nation building infrastructure that is in process NOW should be celebrated and finished, without another consultant enriching revision. I call this the "Build something, anything" rule.

A fair commentary - the HFC network still has some life in it. But copper does not and the Coalition still doesn’t seem to understand this. The last mile copper is either at capacity or is rotting and Telstra doesn’t have the commercial incentive to do anything about it – ‘market forces’ or wireless are not solutions to this issue and in this regard Turnbull needs to get with the program.

I was going to quote some of the historic predictions for IT and comminications that have proved so epically wrong as evidence of the difficulty in trying to predict requirements even a few years in the future but I found this quote instead which sums up the situation better I think.

"The reasonable man adapts to the world around him. The unreasonable man tries to change the world. Therefore, all progress is the result of unreasonable men"

George Bernard Shaw

So, Peter Farley, all the 99% of net users who don't want and couldn't use the speeds you want have to pay greatly exagerated costs just to service you?
Not on your Nellie!!! Go get your own high speed communications and pay for it yourself.

@Lindsay Cole

How do you know that 99% don't want or couldn't use?
I think you will find that you have inadvertently hit the nail on the head with your comment about it being a communications network.

One of the largely ignored factors is that of the telephony over the network. Can you tell me how it is that the HFC networks will suddenly be carrying all of the broadband traffic as well as the telephony signals?

The fact of this policy from the Labor government is that it is much more than simply creation of a high speed broadband network.

It is the rectification of a failed market due to a previous governments choices (sale of Telstra without structural separation) as well as a lack of safeguards from the regulator to allow the Australian public to take advantage of global advances in technologies.

The creation of what is the NBN (through NBN Co) is simply allowing Australia and Australians to take advantage of the advances in technology which are allowing other global economies to be competitive. This is something that is largely forgotten in this debate. There is no doubt that the implementation of this policy is described as patch at best, however the goal of the policy is the advance that we require to allow us to reduce the cost of business in this country. Add to this that we will create the necessary infrastructure for the next 50 - 100 years and we are in a good position.

Compare this to the currently available information from the Coalition (currently in Opposition) and we are put between a rock and a hard place. Either we accept that the roll out will take a long time (currently planned for completion by 2021) or we accept that we must trail the rest of the world by accepting a bastardised version of the network which will have us stuck on a technology which is not worth rolling out under the current state of the existing network.

It would also appear that even with ignoring all the potential benefits of ubiquitous access the Coalitions policy leaves us with the currently vertically integrated monopoly which is Telstra, and unless you have been living under a rock for the past 15 years, I should not have to remind you that this arrangement has not been beneficial for the Australian public.

I would suggest as a final note that you may wish you acquaint yourself with some more technical information by visiting a community forum such as or but I imagine that all you are seeing is the upfront capital cost and not the long term benefit. So my final conclusion to you is this: The Labor government have royally screwed up the implementation of what is the finest piece of legislation that this country has seen in many decades, however just because the implementation is flawed does not mean we should allow ourselves to sink to the point of going backwards just because a political party says so, we must instead demand the best option (in this instance, better management of an already brilliant policy) for the people of the so-called lucky country.

Well said Matthew, it is worth pointing out the cost is NOT upfront but is spread over 10 years = $4Bill p.a - a drop in the bucket compared with roads and baby bonus, and as the build progresses income increases as it will further as the business plans and 1GB become more widely available.

Worth understanding just what is involved in the NBN.

Methinks its time for Mr Turnbull to stop tap dancing and let us all in on the financial secrets of the technology he is backing as being "cheaper and faster"

If the ALP's end goal is Fibre and if the LNP has stated its is the same, ie., Fibre; why are we doing a Menzies 2 step "2 backward 1 forward" to attain that goal?

Just because HFC ranks second to fibre doesn't tell you HOW FAR behind fibre it is. AS pointed out it has terrible upload speeds, and is far more vulnerable to congestion. Furthermore the option of making HFC an open access network is nowhere as easy as this article implies. And lastly the HFC networks are not far from their estimated lifespan, making all the effort mostly wasted.

You keep mentioning download speeds but not upload speeds. Upload speeds on HFC is worse then ADSL. If you want Australia to be innovative then you need good upload speeds. I have many applications that I could use except the upload speed barrier makes them useless.

I have never been able to understand why so many seemingly intelligent people lose their marbles when it comes to the National Broadband Network (A.Kohler an exception). Its essentially just clutching at straws to argue that an old ACCC letter on the NBN is solid evidence that Malcolm Turnbull is talking sense. You don't need a degree in physics to get that a combined system of wireless, cable and copper terminating at the village pump on the street corner cannot effectively compete with a system that operates on the speed of light right into every dwelling, hospital, university, school and business across the continent.

As to funding of the NBN, lets just compare it to funding of road infrastructure across Australia. According to the NRMA, this country collects $13billion in road taxes of various types annually and spends approximately $11billion, in road construction and maintenance each year. The 2010 Inquiry into Federal State Road Funding Arrangements, revealed that Australian governments managed quite easily to spend $90.4 billion in cumulative Federal State and Local Government road construction in the years 2000 to 2008, all funded on the budget, unlike the NBN which is off-budget.

Did the world fall in on the Federal and state budget positions as a result of this expenditure on roads? Was it irresponsible? Did the IMF have to intervene? No, of course not. The outcomes have been exceptional in terms of lifting Australian roads up somewhere close to those of the US and Western Europe. A big dint was made in the Hume Highway and the Pacific Highway. Thousands of bridges were built or rebuilt. The list goes on but the main thing is that productivity prospered in this country whilst the much of the Western world went to hell in a handbasket.

So the NBN is going to cost $40 to $45 billion over the next 12 years including paying out Telstra and Optus for their existing cable and copper networks, way less than our annual road budget. Whats the big deal in the scheme of all the new infrastructure for the private and the public sector that will also go in during this period. The NBN self-funded over its life and will last at least 60 years. What about the productivity gains that will accrue to country as a whole. So what if it is 3 months behind in a 10 year roll-out?

Anyway, what is so brilliant about the Australian private sector in delivering on time and on budget? Just Google BHP, Rio and Woodside private sector investment during the past decade alone and you find a myriad of examples of delays, cost blow-outs, cockups and stuffups galore. Build a nickel plant and then close it down. Invest $40 billion in an aluminium company and lose it all. Over runs on privately-built road tunnels in Sydney and Brisbane, water desalination plants all way over budget and behind schedules etc, etc.

Now that Abbott looks likely to win a landslide, its time for a rethink by the Lib/Nats on the NBN. Ditch the rhetoric and the university debate point scoring and instead focus on the productivity gains for the country right across the board. If Australia can readily afford to fund a decent transport communication system for private cars and haulage communications across the continent, we can afford to pay for for the best possible 1st class digital communication system for the next 60 years. And that's the NBN!

The most practical method of Broadband. Very confusing. Journalistic quotes for speed is one, even on this page. Mega bits and mega bytes. One byte consists of eight bits. 8 to 1 ratio just to confuse one issue. Efficiency of copper. It depends on the condition of the copper and how good and intact the insulation. I have seen PVC insulated copper in new condition after 60 years and poorly protected same insulation tarnished in 2 years.
Who knows how long fiber life is. Maybe we will have some idea in 50 years time. I was taught in my early days of building and installing communications radio on fishing vessels that radio frequency current flows on the surface of the copper wire, Therefore bright condition is important. PVC insulated antenna wire was a big improvement on bare copper in salt air. A recent news item said that radio broadband is now able to cover 300 megabytes. That should be able to give adequate cover for the whole of rural Australia. Divide 300 megabytes / second by the number of users at any given moment to arrive at the speed.available. As for the 90% of homes covered, that may only be 10 % of area. A vast difference. Wonderful spin for non math thinkers. The truth of news items becomes a very moot point when journalists, politics, bean counters, sales people Etc become involved

I've been waiting for this one to "resurface" (ie, get pushed out by Telstra) since it became evident that we're very likely to have a Coalition government after September. Words like "adequate" and describing HFC as "proven technology" (from 2009, no less!!) mark the argument for what it is: winding up Australians yet again to settle for third-rate services for decades to come, since this opportunity will not come again for another half-century.
On top of this, Telstra will cop yet another multibillion-dollar free kick as we're forced to "buy" something for which have all paid over the years: its increasingly decrepit copper wire network.
Yes, FTTP is costing more than we were told. Is the NBN less important than the biilions in overruns for the appalling Collins Class submarines, which are already at the end of their service lives? FTTP will give Australia a leading edge for many, many decades more than those submarines gave us.

I've just been asked the question at work: haven't we already paid for Telstra's copper wire network. The answer, as I understand it, is no: NBN Co paid for the ducts and pits only.

Actually leased for 30 Years with I believe option to buy at the end. The copper, different issue, does the NBN lease the copper, do the customers pay a rental to Telstra (suspect the LNP option as shifts costs ). The copper is higher maintenance. Does the included POTS telephone service require the maintenace of the existing telephone exchange for a steadily reducing user base? more and more are using mobile or OTT, Voip over broadband including mobile sucha Skytpe or Pennytel as massively cheaper. There will be no high value plans as up to 80Mb is as in the UK , only average of 30-40Mb with a lucky few getting better and the losers less.
HFC as we have is useable for broadband for approx 30% in the footprint, as designed for multicast Pay TV. Yes can be upgraded by multiplying Nodes and feeder fibres and backhaul and operational infrastructure by approx 4 - original cost for Telstra was approx $6Bill. Approx $1Bill could be saved if the multicast Pay TV aspect was dumped and that spectrum re used for upload

the NBN will be a dud for the average person, I do not know of any young person who has a land line ,and another downer for the NBN is they are all using their mobile phones for the internet and associated uses. most say they do not use a computer hardly at all.

Then once they build a home and family their needs change and their free cash flow has to be adjusted, once their children are students and teenagers their family needs subtly change again.
Entertainment cost becomes an issue and the whole equation changes.
I remind you the black spots and rim hells were built to the perceived needs of the day. Do we repeat the same mistakes.?

Worth considering a more pertinant blast from the past.
And the fact that HFC is not about enabling competition, rather entrenching a Pay TV monopoly which is what it was designed for. Cost a fortune to adequately upgrade

The Broadband Competition Inquiry of 2003 states that ADSL is an inter-rim technology and that fibre is the replacement technology for copper.


4.89 The Committee believes that Australia’s broadband market is at a critical point in its development. Investment in infrastructure deployment has slowed and in the current regulatory – and Telstra dominated environment, has lost momentum. The Committee acknowledges that the issues are complex and that there is no single solution to the impediments to broadband competition identified in this report. However, the evidence to this inquiry has confirmed the need for the Government to address the regulatory and competitive environment as a matter of priority. In summary, the Committee wishes to concur with the sentiments expressed in a submission to this inquiry:

The central problem to be resolved is not a technological problem, such as how do we extend ADSL so that it is available to more people on the existing infrastructure. It is an investment problem: how do we find a way to pay for a replacement for the copper network.

The existing network is obsolete because it has ceased to meet the requirements to deliver the basic level of services required to meet the social and economic needs of the Australian community. This is an ubiquitous need, not one that is relative to the distance from the nearest triple 0 postcode.

At the very heart of this failure of competition is the unresolved problem of the structural integration of Telstra. While it owns access to customers, and the services that are delivered over that infrastructure, and the alternative cable delivery mode, and a large slice of the content, and a portion of the dominant Pay TV company, and is even sitting on spectrum that could be used for wireless CAN deployment in much of regional Australia, there is insufficient competitive tension to support new CAN investment.

The length of time it takes for policy makers to realise that the CAN crisis must be confronted, and that the vertical integration of Telstra is the central problem preventing this from happening, will determine whether a reinvigorated approach to driving competition into the communications markets commences next year, the year after or three or more years from now.[296]

Incidentally FTTN is NOT the Rolls Royce, it is the Hilux workhorse to last for mant decades with minimum maintenance that is also readily upgradeable

Major correction to my previous post.
FTTP is NOT the Rolls Royce, it is the HiLux workhorse built and designed to last for many decades, 50+ years. FTTN is the Datsun 120Y ute that just won't cop the load. It will not have the high value plans to pay for the whole package as average speed is only 30-40 Mb, the cost of the FTTN will not be 1/3 of the total NBN package, maybe a savings depending on cost of copper end and whether leased or whether customer has to pay line rental to Telstra (Most likely as gives the illusion of cheaper for the NBN). At the best 10% savings on NBN as the FTTP component is only a minor aspect, however greatly reduced capability to repay the borrowings and higher operational costs so will end up on budget and taxpayer funded - why such idiocy.? eerily as similar and idiotic as the Howard LNP govts Sea Sprite horribly expensive fiasco