Turnbull's whiter-than-white elephant?

Malcolm Turnbull is a smart cookie, but figuring out what he's been up to since late last year is not easy.

Readers may recall that in that last quarter of 2012 Turnbull was having a wonderful time, running about offering small-l liberal assessments of his own party (Turnbull's smile that wins, 18 September 2012).

Many Australians with an aversion to authoritarianism delighted in hearing him put the case for gay marriage (an issue Tony Abbott still cannot budge on, despite his daughters' public support for the idea), critique his own side's Question Time tactics and, with that beguiling grin, drop in the odd reminder that carbon pricing (the policy that brought him unstuck in December 2009) isn't such a bad idea.

All good stuff in the spirit of Menzies. The Liberal Party is a broad church, even if half the party chose to lay his political leadership to rest in a narrow casket.

But what happened in the new year? Those little jibes and taunts vanished, and party-faithful Turnbull focused all his talents on filling his place in the front bench line-up (even if, on the cover of the Coalition's 'Our Plan for Government' document, Turnbull sits a little to one side of his colleagues, and just a bit out of focus).

His part in the plan is to disrupt the not-yet-established monopoly of the NBN and, apparently, to replace it with a hybrid system of competition between a state-owned monoply and Telstra – as detailed by Alan Kohler yesterday (Coalition to end the NBN monopoly, April 3).

In this role, Turnbull and his sharp-witted staff are very effective. Too effective in fact. Because the reality, should an Abbott government be formed, is that Turnbull is too intelligent to want to go down in history as the man who set back Australian telecommunications by years, if not decades.

Browsing through the many astute comments from Business Spectator readers yesterday, one is reminded of the parts of the Coalition's soon to be released plan that won't be foregrounded by Turnbull. They most certainly will be mentioned by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, but who will hear his baying while he does time in the Labor doghouse for botching his government's attempt at media regulation?

Here are a few of the nasties:

– It's just not true that private fibre cables can be cheaply run from the fibre-to-the-node cabinets Turnbull wants to install in every street. The technology to convert a fibre backbone signal (light fired down a fibre optic cable) into digital electrical signals that travel along copper wires is not the same piece of kit as is being installed to provide the Conroy NBN. In simple terms, every FTTN cabinet would need one technology to split the backbone light signal into numerous FTTP signals, and one to send electrical signals along all the copper loops emanating from the 'node'. Both technologies would have to be installed in every node, just in case one premises in the street wanted fibre.

– If a team of NBN contractors rolling down a street can connect each dwelling for an average cost of $2,000, reduced economies of scale will make it more expensive to call contractors out on a piecemeal basis to connect single dwellings. Much more expensive. Even if a Coalition government mandates a fixed price for connections, the cost of the hauling a team out to install single fibres, over and over again, will cost the taxpayer a fortune.

– The patchwork nature of a Coalition plan will help preserve technology-based monopolies, with cable TV being the big one. The variable quality of copper-based technologies, which vary in data speeds not only by area but by the often degraded nature of each single copper loop (so that speeds fall away in the rain, for instance), means that reliable cable-TV requires a reliable high speed link. At present, that is available to 600,000 homes through HFC cable, or via satellite. The Conroy NBN plan overbuilds the HFC capacity, but also effectively gives every premises (and, at the other end of the fibre, every small media start-up) the means to reliably transmit/receive on-demand video. As Business Spectator reader Scott Fraser pointed out yesterday: "Full speed FTTH would allow (heaven forbid) sports organisations to broadcast their own programs/games". To say that undermines a few lucrative broadcast rights deals is an understatement. Conversely, it opens up a new world of business opportunies – 'sports club as media owner' is just one example.

Turnbull, and his advisers, understand all of this very well. The main selling point for NBN 2.0 is that it would be delivered more quickly, and at less cost than the Conroy plan.

While that is certain to be true of the initial rollout, what will be the cost to the nation of adding FTTP connections, one by one, as the benefits of limitless bandwidth and lack of network congestion become apparent? The principle of user pays (where users can afford to pay) is a good one, but not if a $2000 installation ends up costing $5000.

Moreover, what will be the cost to the nation of those thousands of new business models (not just 'sport club as media owner', but 'small health clinic as online locum' or 'offshore Mandarin speaker as local tutor') never getting off the ground? It's hard to do a cost-benefit analysis for applications that will never be built.

Conroy has long argued that a uniform user experience, at a uniform price, is a pre-requisite for the innovation that will give birth to productivity enhancing business models in e-health, online education and e-commerce.

All of which makes it hard to understand why a man with Turnbull's knowledge of technology and media markets wants to be the guy who put his name to a network that (if the actual policy reflects Kohler's description) will stifle innovation and end up costing taxpayers/private broadband customers a lot more than 'Conroy's white elephant'. 

Turnbull's too smart for that. His seamless transition from thorn-in-Abbott's side to committed NBN demolisher (to use Abbott's unfortunate word) is all too convenient. Just what is Turnbull up to?

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Back in May 2011, Chris Joye opened an article with exactly the same question, "What is Malcolm Turnbull up to?" He concluded by informing that Turnbull once said to him, "You capitalise on chaos". Perhaps he is biding his time.

“If a uniform price and experience is a prerequisite for innovation.” then why is the world’s biggest and most successful digital hardware and software innovator, the US, still using a free market hybrid carrier network; at least someone knows from experience that the free market is the best stimulus for business innovation, not government forced uniformity. The business applications that you claim are not going to be built because of hybrid FTTN, wouldn’t be built in Australia anyway, they’ll be built elsewhere when world demand warrants; and anyway they’ll be carrier network technology independent just like the ones we use now, so why the fuss. Then we have few software entrepreneurs left, because most of them have already gone to the US. This means, the applications will probably be built in the US when it’s profitable to do so and we’ll argue about adapting them for local conditions some time later. And with the best will in the world I can’t see government paying to build them to fill the gap and will be slow to invest in the all important intellectual content anyway, even though the government tells us their health and education systems are the ones that are going to feel the biggest disruptions from the technology. Then, government’s track record with big application systems projects is pretty woeful; so what benefits from applications?

To answer the last question, I suspect Mr Turnbull is just being that rare thing for a politician, pragmatic.

With respect Jeffrey I suggest do some actual research. The US broadband is a concern to many in the US and is far from the idyllic free market competitive Nirvana. Else why would major carriers be taking legal action against cities to prevent them from rolling out free access FTTP when the carriers will not do so. Why are they raping the spectrum, taking spectrum from Military and Aviation and Emergency and Free to Air media and public bands to satisfy the insatiable need for wireless broadband. What when every available scrap is in use even the white space in the broadcast TV signals.
Even Googles much touted Kansas City initiative is not all it seems on closer evaluation, their initial Stamford trial is more indicative

The HFC networks in the US were built for subscription television, which is still their main income earner (given subscription TV has near-full penetration in the US). The real costs of providing internet over that medium have been hidden under cross-subsidy from TV packages, and the cable operators are starting to wake up to it given the popularity of services such as Netflix.

@Jeffrey Gillis. I agree regarding apps being built in the US. The fact that these apps haven't been deployed in countries that already have large FTTH networks shows that there's no real demand. That doesn't mean there never will be. Maybe there will be. Could be tomorrow. However, it could be 20 years away. When implementing new technology (eg FTTH) it's always better and cheaper to wait until the demand exists and then build. Why? Well, the cost of technology generally gets cheaper with time. Also, the technology itself often improves (what if a better capacity fiber cable is developed in 5 years time? We'd be stuck with our crappy old fiber). Then there's the fact that for every day the technology isn't being used to full capacity, you're still paying interest on $50B every year. That's 1/2 the NDIS funding right there. These are the reasons that business don't rush out and pay for the latest and greatest servers/networks/software. Because it's poor business practice. Now I get that some people commenting here want the Ferrari. Who doesn't want one!? But are they really prepared to cough up $50B when they could have the perfectly good Corolla for $10B? Last time I looked around more people were driving Corolla's than Ferrari's. People seem to be under the illusion that because the govt is paying that they won't have to. Taxes are already going to rise due to the $200B in debt Labor has accumulated. Do you really want to make it $250B plus interest?

So a six lane Sydney Harbour Bridge was a pad idea? And what of the opportunity cost is we are last to the party rather than close to first?

@Jeffrey Gillis. Nobody is going to develop anything for Australia's NBN. The market is simply too small to make enough money to justify the capital expense. Can anyone name a single technology EVER developed for Australia? I can't. Even Australia innovators only bother creating products that are marketable to the US/Europe.

Let me help you. Wasn't CSIRO an early player if not inventor of WiFi such that they receive handsome royalties from Cisco and similar.

And the first commercial combine harvester by Hugh Victor McKay in 1882. There are others if you care to look. Are you suggesting the US and Europe will never have widespread deployments of fibre? Not even France?

We'll find out not too long after September, I suspect. Malcom's leadership baton is still in his knapsack, but it's just buried under a few dirty socks and undies at the moment. My guess is that once we see Abbott in action as PM (i.e. cautious & timid like Ballieu was), the public will be licking their lips at the thought of Turnbull as PM. The Coalition may even need Turnbull to become PM just to guarantee a second term.

A good point Ralph. Maybe the Liberals will let Tony take them to the election with the expectation that Abbott will be so extreme that he will need to be replaced by Turnbull in a hurry.

Could be Rudd style leadership change is the plan?

Well said Rob. I am one of those start ups that requires reliable, fast broadband to operate my business effectively. I have recently registered a business to develop custom operational apps for Australian businesses. New development tools have emerged that allow rapid development of quality apps, and because of little overheads, they can be developed very cheaply. I have spoken to many industries who have expressed the huge potential of this business model including mining and manufacturing industries. The deployment of these apps will largely be in the cloud which allows me maintain them with little down time. It will also allow me to work from home, getting me out of the traffic. The pivotal factor to this is superfast broadband, which is required by me and the businesses I develop for (some of who will also operate out of their own homes). Any delay in their operation due to network issues could cloud the efficiency gains from using them.
Turnbull lacks vision. He wants to save money on the most important infrastructure project for our country by rolling out an inferior product. His idea will disadvantage many businesses I develop these apps for.

"I am one of those start ups that requires reliable, fast broadband to operate my business effectively."

Then pay for the fibre from the node to your premises. The Government will pay for part, you pay for the rest. It's your business venture, so some level of 'user pays' seems fair and equitable to me.


Do you simply choose not to believe that the current NBN approach IS a user pays solution. The risk is that the NBN won't meet their 7% return. It seems that takeup rates aren't so much the concern as the costs of the build itself. Nonetheless the government will have an asset of considerable value to hold against that risk. On the other hand the Coalition is proposing a system of some user pays and continuous and ongoing subsidies to telcos to provide a service that is short sighted in the extreme. It locks in higher operational costs, geographic inequality and higher upgrade costs in future and there is no guarantee that it will be cheaper. The key problems the NBN is having now are still present in building out FTTN.

As in the spirit of the article I seriously can't believe Malcolm can be so ignorant of the reality he is proposing given he can say such intelligent things about many other things.

I think you miss the point of nation building reforms. The reason we pay tax is so government can provide infrastructure necessary to help our nation grow. If governments took your point of view, all roads would be paid for by the people who used them, which would be economic suicide for growing cities. I doubt you would consider this fair and equitable?
Both major parties consider broadband to be a suitable investment for our nation. The question is to what extent do we invest? I have highlighted an example above why FTTH will benefit my business and the businesses I will develop apps for, keeping them competitive and in turn growing the economy. We are all the beneficiaries of businesses implementing this technology.

@Tim. FTTN is the same as roads. So I guess a dog is the same as a cat because they both have 4 legs? What a poor/lazy intellectual argument. It's only feasible in most cases for roads to be built by the state (for a start a road is shared but the difference between FTTN and FTTH is your PRIVATE connection to your home (not shared). For fibre, private ownership is viable/preferable. Most companies have private fibre lines. It's not uncommon at all. Every hospital/school/uni/govt dept/major building in the country has it's own fibre lines. I believe the cost is about $10k/year. I fail to see why I should have to subsidise your business. As to your "oh the benefits go back into the economy". Well, I'd like to go back to uni to do a masters degree. That'd also benefit the economy. Are you offering to pay extra taxes to make postgrad qualifications publicly funded? Everyone can justify taking money from other people in the name of "oh a small % of it will trickle back to you:)".

Ask yourself the question James. Why do governments install fibre lines to most hospital's/school's/uni's/govt dept's??? Because they believe fibre is required to maximise efficiency. The effectiveness of this is not disputed on either side of government. This is called a worthwhile investment. The government also see's value in people going for their Masters Degree. That's why they offer HECS assistance (paid for by you and me by the way). I don't expect you to subsidise my business, this is misinformation spread by ignorant people. The NBN is classed as an investment, meaning that every dollar you and I spend on it, we will receive $1.07 in return. We are actually making money from rolling out the NBN in pure financial terms, but the benefits of this infrastructure to the economy far outweigh any ROI.
If fibre is rolled out to one of my customers premises, and I conduct diagnostics on an application over the network or make a sale, it is no longer a private connection and I am now profiting from that person's/businesses connection. Not everyone uses their internet connection to look on Facebook.
As for your dogs and cats analogy?? WTF!

Tim's use of his bit of the fibre (and mine and yours, for that matter) from his/my/your local GPON raises revenue which helps pay for the rest of the network.

Just testing the waters.
Seriously there may be far more to it. It has brought it into the public arena for discussion , vigorous and informative which could have the purpose of enlightening many uninformed, dare I say ignorant both among the public and the media (Paying attention Alan, Andrew and Co) and especially his own party and it's supporters, this is not a Political issue per se or should not be. Far too important for our Nations future.
However Politically the whole issue does highlight some IMO concerning aspects re ability to actually comprehend issues whatever they may be and the effect that will have on policy

The NBN is the only thing Labor has done that has widespread support, even from detractors it has support on everything but cost.

The problem is that Labor sold it to the electorate as a proper business when it was nothing Like it. It was a private industry bashing, monopolistic, non commercial, nation building and vote buying exercise.

It seemed horrendously expensive in 2008 at $43 billion, not so much now with Labor splashing money like there is no tomorrow Seems even cheap with Gillard's disability plan ALONE at $10 billion a year.

All Turnbull has to do is say, the NBN is too far along, it is non commercial but it will be good for the nation in many ways.

Then get on and build it, properly this time.

"The problem is that Labor sold it to the electorate as a proper business when it was nothing Like it. It was a private industry bashing, monopolistic, non commercial, nation building and vote buying exercise."
Firstly to view it as just a business is incomprehensibly shortsighted
The cold hard reality is the private sector had their opportunity and failed to deliver without requiring a permanent greedy snout in the taxpayer trough, and even then the minimum they could get away with.
The information has been put out by both the government and NBNCo, however after the Media filters, misinformation and distortions by certain vested interests you have limited factual knowledge and erroneous beliefs - very strange.
Expensive over 10 Years when it will also produce income and pay for itself ? - watch the media cool aid , gives nasty indigestion.
Build properly?, please elucidate. Explain the problems and issues and the reasons for them.

Mark Gregory has done two excellent articles, one on Business Spectator expalining what the NBN actually is and why it is needed. The second on the ABC covering the NBN's major mistake. Namely following accepted business wisdom of soley using contractors for the build. They should have primarily built their own construction arm, as well as Contractors in a lesser role. Enabling hiring of local experienced splicers at higher wages who have no wish to work for the Contractors as they take the cream and pay the workers peanuts. NBN employment would have attracted the ex Telecom experienced Splicers and installers most of who'm with their past nation building self respect are very pro NBN and would provide the field skills and training and mentoring pool. It will be needed for future Greenfields and expansion of the fibre footprint. That way a floating pool of skilled personell can be available as needed.
Even iiNet maintain and train their own installer arm, unfortunately due to lack of adequate training since Telecom was privatised their workers are constantly being poached as will happen to NBNCo Construction - but then just part of the Public Service obligation which the Markets have never factored into the equation as they scream about lack of skilled workers and 457 Visa's

You and so many of the anti GBE FTTP are fanatically obsessed with Commerciality, Why.?
The carriers are all for it (maybe the exeption being the Foxtel Pay TV monopoly), they know the NBN can achieve what could otherwise never be done and will be level playing field open access to all, the issues are about oversight.
Is our National Road network a commercial proposition, if not why do we have it?.

Rob Burgess - Pinker than pink!

Yes. most of his articles are just justification pieces for his ideological point of view

Thankfully technology suffers not from present static preconceptions as to how things pan out in the future, innovation presently favours wireless, who would be brave enough to predict what groundbreaking innovation we are yet to witness.
Nobody saw Apple coming with Itunes which completely turned music distribution on its head, so the point is never underestimate technological innovation, can make supposedly unbreakable systems as irrelevant as nothing more than yesterdays tech...

Are you suggesting we do nothing while we wait for some mythical wireless network to take the place of the NBN? How long do we wait? Then what if another new technology is just around the corner perhaps we wait for that instead? Almost all advances in wireless have been in using increasingly larger portions of radio spectrum, aside from the upcoming tv spectrum, there is not much more spectrum to be had without intruding on other allocations, the alternative is to dramatically increase the number of base stations, by the time you do that you would have been far better off to have just built an FTTP network.

Am just saying we may only require fibre to the town junction box then spread along power lines for whole of town wi fi access.

@Damien Fitzpatrick. I think we should also borrow $50B to build chargers for electric cars all around Australia. Then perhaps another $50B to build space ports on top of all buildings. Who knows what benefits flying cars will bring?! Why wait? Waiting is foolish. Hmm, what's that you ask? What about a cost/benefit analysis by the productivity commission? But the benefits are unquantifiable! Build it and they will come! Flying cars will then be followed by all forms of freight taking to the skies resulting in a 10% increase in GDP.

Back to the NBN though. Most internet traffic in Australia is either pornography or pirated material. Hardly the most pressing need for public funds. But hey, I'm sure Australia's decaying hospitals/roads/schools/disabled can wait a few more years for funds so you can watch the latest Game of Thrones episode a bit quicker.

Porn and pirates? Check out http://goo.gl/p8DZR for iView usage statistics. iTunes has announced 25 BILLION song downloads and iTunes U 1 Billion. A worthwhile iBook can be .5 Gig. Internet usage has moved on. Worldwide stats for iTunes and iBooks but Australian usage is probably similar.

Beautifully falsely misrepresented.
It is approx $37Bill for install CAPEX), $43Bill including OPEX OVER 10 years, effective average of $4Bill per year of money borrowed on the basis of being repaid with interest by THE USERS - the same as our original PMG/Telecom, against how much does it cost per annum the Taxpayer for Roads/health/education/disabled - a clue scarcely even register as a drop in the bucket.

For the rest of your comment.
Maybe the readers can actually find out what the NBN is all about as the lack of knowledge on the subject shown in the comments is breathtaking - maybe indicative of their sources of information.
The FTTP whilst relatively expensive to install initially and a rational long term cost savings action is but a part of what the NBN is about ( Bris South exchange had to be moved - in ground copper remained in situ , so following the brilliant LNP conservative rationality FTTN would have been the only cost effective rational solution, they installed FTTP instead. So what is wrong with either Telstra's economics or logic or the anti FTTP logic?, can't both be correct).
The rant about other uses of the money and that hospitals schools medical facilities etc. Many are already using fibre or broadband as has been brought up. Why call it a rant.?
On Whirlpool and other forums proprietors of businesses and IT and accounts staff of these health and educational institutions give indication of the actual costs in thousands, tens of thousands and even over $100,000 a MONTH . The NBN will allow up to a 90% reduction in these costs for a far superior service and also expand it to smaller schools medical labs and facilities, how is this so?, bulk install rather than one off and spread costs so win win all around.
So the annual savings in these areas of Government on budget expenditure alone will be similar to the total annual install cost of the NBN as a part of our monthly broadband bill will effectively be subsidising these worthy causes.

With Robs indulgence I present some reputable informative links.
11,000 words of the result of detailed research, vigorously attacked, but not able to be refuted
Talking US Broadband

For the wireless debate I refer you to Delimiter

However it has been fun reading the frothing at the mouth uninformed ideological/political based rants

Thankfully technology suffers not from present static preconceptions as to how things pan out in the future, innovation presently favours wireless, who would be brave enough to predict what groundbreaking innovation we are yet to witness.
Nobody saw Apple coming with Itunes which completely turned music distribution on its head, so the point is never underestimate technological innovation, can make supposedly unbreakable systems as irrelevant as nothing more than yesterdays tech...

I disagree yofus. Wireless technologies can not compete with fibre. This argument should be understood by now? The bandwidth of fibre far outweighs what any wireless technology can deliver due to the physical constraints of the universe. Unless we were to run fibre to every street corner and offer a WiFi access point. This is basically what the NBN will be.
I suspect the next ground breaking innovation has already been developed, this being video available in 4K. This is about 4 times more data than 1080P. Movies are already being filmed in this technology, but can not be viewed on DVD's due to the amount of data. Movies like this will most likely be available via download from the internet (similar to iTunes). But unless you want to wait an hour for it to download, you would need a fibre connection. Mr Turnbull will need to explain to his constituents that if they want to be able to download these movies quickly, they will need to pay for a fibre connection (unless they vote Labor).

Was just trying to say may be unwise to pack all eggs in one basket, am presently enjoying NBN access as one of the lucky fortunate few early subscribers, would be suitably pissed off waiting a decade for what would almost certainly be outdated technology by then.

It is far from certain. At this point in time, fibre is still future proof. The only thing that isn't certain is the limit of data that can be transmitted down a fibre cable. So in terms of data throughput, we will have no problem with fibre for decades to come. In terms of convenience ie. wireless, as data usage increases, wireless performance decreases. This is a fact. Other facts worth highlighting are the recent development in photonic chips (network switches based on light rather than electronics). Also Intel's Lightning Bolt technology. Both these technologies compliment fibre rather than copper.
I'm glad you are enjoying your NBN access. What would piss me off is having to pay for what you got for free.

"What would piss me off is having to pay for what you got for free." Hmm, well what would piss me off is having to pay taxes so your business can freeload of my earnings when ADSL/wireless work perfectly well for me.

You're still not getting it are you James? Please refer to my reply to your comment above.

James 'the anonymous' troll is a partisan fanatic sniping with a musket from the hills. ;)

What pisses me off is having contributed to the cost of your education. I presume it happened.

The faster, cheaper, better slogan forgets one very important point. Everywhere else in the world where FTTN is being deployed it is being done so by the owner of the copper network. The coalition does not own a copper network, this means they will have to buy one. The only one going is owned by Telstra, assume at least one to two years to reach agreement with Telstra, assume the sell price will be at least $11 billion + $1 billion per year and rising in maintenance, add on several years to build the network, and your faster, cheaper, better promise is looking pretty flimsy.

Damien - the irony of your statement is "The coalition does not own a copper network, this means they will have to buy one."

The Howard Coalition governments decision to sell off copper network/Telstra doesn't seem quite so smart now does it?

I completly agree. One of the Howard Coalition governments greatest blunders was to sell off Telstra as a vertically integrated entity. They should have split retail / wholesale, and we would not be having this argument today, we'd probably already have an FTTN network that would be getting upgraded to an FTTP network.

Reasearch the Howard Governments brilliant solution to the ageing inadequate and unreliable Navy's Sea Sprite Helicopter fleet. An expensive disaster delivering an inadequate mongrel bitzer solution that still failed to deliver with supply maintenance and reliability issues for nearly 3 times the price of a far superior turnkey Sea King fleet replacement, that in the whole thinking and implementation bears a remarkable similarity to their solution to Our National Communications infrastructure.

Also it is not that they failed to seperate Telecom, in fact they reversed Keatings in process separation to give us this mess.

To me the area of great concern in a rapidly changing world in so many ways, they have absolutely failed to comprehend the critical issues for the future of our economy and their solution is an expensive inadequate joke best suited to the Movies and Porn they rant about, not economic enablement.

Note that contrary to the LNP's admission of the serious error in failing to seperate Telecom and their PROMISE to ensure that that continues, their plan including the HFC in Telstra's hands guarantees that that vertical integration will continue in the cities (high profit areas) and the taxpayer and rural citizens and businesses pay for the high cost of Rural. Promises falling already

Considering their inability to comprehend essential economic issues for the nation and econmies long term benefit, I am concerned about their ability to be even half as competent as the Gillard government as bad as they appear to be. I am concerned are we jumping out of the frying pan into the furnace

It is interesting to watch the geeks come out of the closet like a cult of supposed intelligence but lacking in basic fundamentals. The NBN is an absolute disaster just as all the other wacky ideas undertaken by this Government. Unfunded and a burden on the tax payers of this country. The majority of users of the internet are quite happy with the speeds they currently have access to and with the ever expanding use of wireless technology the objective of the NBN is flawed. Where are all of these applications that require the speeds being chased? By the time the NBN gets anywhere near being viable it will be technically obsolete and moreover an economic millstone around everyone's neck. The only problem Turnbull has is that he has not gone for the throat of the dumb Conroy. He has shown on many occasions his lack of knowledge about the industry and is another example of ex unionists dominating public policy.

It's interesting to watch the Liberal Party minions come out of the closet to defend a policy that is exactly the same as the government's, yet inferior. I'm assuming that you Graeme, are endowed with a wealth of basic fundamentals, yet you express no argument to confirm this fact? If you believe the NBN is worthless, why aren't you attacking Turnbull for his proposed idea?
There has been a huge hindrance on the debate over the benefits of an NBN and your comment highlights this perfectly. You present no facts, only insults and conjecture. Everyone is entitled to there own opinion, but not everyone deserves the same amount of attention. So unless you have a factual argument you would like to share, how about you stop wasting bandwidth?

Graeme Not Available, your comment is an excellent example of a Straw Man Argument.

The is the definition of a Straw Man.

A straw man or straw person, also known in the UK as an Aunt Sally,[1][2] is a type of argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position.[3] To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the "straw man"), and to refute it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.[3][4] This technique has been used throughout history in polemical debate, particularly in arguments about highly charged, emotional issues.

One thing you are right about Rob is that Turnbull is clever and so are his technology advisers.
You worry about the interchange between the optical digital signals and the electronic digital signals? The format is the same, Rob, it is only the physical carriage of the impulses that differs!
What happens when your optical signal of digital zeros and ones, on and offs, whatever you want to call the digits, get to your computer at the premise. It is converted to electronic digital signal packets of course! Because your computer runs on electrons, like all of your electronic communication devices, TV included, so optical singal impulses have to be converted to electronic pulses of electrons. Already simply done by receivers in optical and transmitters in electrons.
Dear me Rob, you are a worry!!!!!

Maybe he's actually smarter than you.

The simple answer to the whole question is politics. We are way past looking at what is good for the economy or the country. The progressives are on the nose. The Conservatives want to get elected. Simple - oppose anything and everything the progressives put up. It is popular cheap and effective. Get elected first - point out the giant black hole (believe me they will find one whether it is there or not) to justify cuts to everything. Just before they need to be reelected back flip on everything, elect a new leader and start all over again. Lets face it the average memory span will ensure at least two terms for the Conservatives. With the Murdoch press behind them probably three. Plenty of time for Turnbull to become leader and fix the NBN issues before it is too late. Too cynical? Current activity suggests not.

I don't understand the argument that there are all these businesses that won't happen without fibre to the home. Fundamentally if you NEED fibre level speeds and latency to do your business then uptime and failover HAVE to be a consideration. I have fibre into my office (and yes I paid to have it connected) because I have a large number of concurrent telephone calls and doing it over POTS or ADSL simply doesn't work for either cost or quality.

However I also have a high availability website which is critical to the business. It is, to a degree, more critical for uptime than my phone system. As such it is located in a data centre with redundant power grid ties, battery backups and generators. It also has connections to multiple long haul fibres, meaning that when a digger cuts one of the interstate cables the world won't lose access.

There is no way I would have that server operating in my office here even with the fibre connection I have. To suggest I would have it sitting in my garage on residential grade power security is simply crazy. I don't care how fast your internet is.

To Tim Walsh - you are developing applications. Which mean no matter what, you are writing them offline. Then you are compiling them. Then you are testing them. Even if you are following the Agile release fast, release often mentality you are still doing the same write, compile processes OFFLINE. Then you upload your binaries. Then you stage your release. Even if you were on ADSL 1 with an upstream of 80kb the time taken to upload an always online binary is a fraction of the compile/test time. To argue otherwise is just false.

I won't argue your point. But I'm not just developing applications, I'm also running a business. This requires a certain level of customer service. Being able to identify a customers requirements while still offering fast deployment is critical. Video conferencing will be a huge part of this service. By minimising travel requirements while still providing engaging consultations, I maximise development time. But it would also be nice to upload an app in seconds rather than minutes.

Yes Tim Walsh is typical of the freerider/rentseeker mentality that wants the majority to pay for his particular needs and a healthy copayment is quite in order on equity grounds. No different from wanting the gas put on and no doubt the Tims of this world think nothing of shelling out for another expensive smartphone or desktop every couple of years, but they blanche at a one off $2k to enjoy their preferred full fibre diet.

We need to recall that's a potential diet that so many refused to take up when a completely free connection was offered in the trial areas with the threat of $1500 later if they changed ther minds. In that respect with FTTN, if whole streets of enthusiasts didn't band together to contract privately to get fibre to their homes with the economies of scale that would enjoy, then you'd certainly expect private suppliers and RSPs to knock on doors to jog them wth some savings, or even offer inclusive plans like mobile providers now. All sorts of possibilities and naturally easy finance for the Tims with so much return going begging with connection to fibre.

Meanwhile the pensioners and struggletown can continue with their landline budget phones as they do now with no additional expense brought on by the demanding Tims or Robs for that matter. These people can't afford to be on the computer hardware and software treadmill, let alone have the wherewithal to be the home bush IT expert that entails and they certainly can't afford Geek2U when things go pear shaped.

I'm at a loss when people accuse business entrepreneurs of being freeriders? You must realise that you live in a wealthy country, made even wealthier by the initiative of entrepreneurs. It is a sorry state when entrepreneurs are considered selfish. We are not all isolated to our own economic cacoons.
Luckily, the pensioners you speak of have access to government assistance, brought about by a strong economy which is strengthened by business prosperity. Luckily Roger, our country is not governed by oppressive people.

Well I've been in business for over a quarter of a century Tim and I no doubt like Turnbull we both know deep down- Not everyone's like moi!

As for pensioners, etc having access to Govt assistance, there are tradeoffs there with pensions if my middle class peers decide to allocate scarce taxes for their own pet projects or pecadilloes. That's one thing singing for your supper in the marketplace teaches you well. You dont always know what's best for the end consumer but they sure teach you fast if you're isolated in your own economic coccoon.

Well now I know you're a hypocrite. If you've been in business for a quarter of a century you've no doubt claimed your fair share of tax deductions, to grow your business? Yet here you are criticising me for being a freerider! Ludicrous...

So you consider the NBN a pet project? If you don't understand the benefits of this project, maybe I can offer you a free consultation. I could probably develop an app for you to double your output? You might not get a discount though?

Yeah, because we know writing little "apps" is the backbone of Australian prosperity. Do you also do ringtones? At least we know what'll fill the gap left by the mining boom. Well worth $50B of extra taxes!

You do realise that every comment you post with no understanding of the financial side of the NBN ruins your credibility? The NBN is an investment, the return on this investment will be around 7%. But at least you know now?

Tim, I'm not calling you a freerider or anything like that. I started my own business 7 years ago from the verandah of my house. I totally understand the challenges, pressures and work ethic required to build something like a business up.

What I am saying though is that I don't believe the cost of FTTH is even remotely justified and I can't get my head around what the potential businesses that having FTTH will create. You mentioned video conferencing, but video conferencing works on ADSL 2 without any dramas. I don't see a usage case where HD video streaming is the decider between something happening and not. I have clients spread round the world and have done multicast video conferences from my home where I can't get ADSL 2 only 1. It works fine. Would I love gigabit connections to my house? Absolutely. Am I willing to pay for it? No.

It's a questions of chicken or the egg? It's no secret that data usage has been constantly increasing. There is no evidence to suggest that data usage will not increase at the same speed into the future? Even if we can't imagine it.
Technologies like Microsoft's Kinect are a perfect example of products waiting to be exploited by fast broadband. This is where businesses can get an edge over their competitors. By offering a better way of doing things. Like an iPhone over a Blackberry for instance.
It's not a case of will it happen, it's a case of when.

"no secret that data usage has been constantly increasing". And it's no secret that the vast majority of the increased usage is piracy and pornography. With the NBN it'll be even faster.

And due to upload limitations that is ALL the LNP's solution is good for, unlike the GBE GPON FTTP which is actually business capable solution

If I may ask what is this cost ?
A) Where do the funds come from.
B) How will it be paid for?
What do we get for our investment ?

The same questions for the alternative policy this article refers to ?

Cheap is usually a bad investment long term

Copper based technology in Australia will be the more expensive option, the current maintenance costs alone are running at $1 Billion per year. There are many parts of Australia where fibre cannot be had at any price, including many suburbs in capital cities. I was recently paying Telstra thousands of dollars per month for bonded copper services that gave me a paltry 2MB/s, we required 4 pairs to guaruntee that speed. Then another $1500 for each of 2 satelite offices that only received business grade ADSL. Even these services are not widely available in most phone exchanges in Australia.

Not everyone travels by public transport. You make a good case for keeping the old red rattlers and installing wooden seats. Or do nothing about upgrading the Pacific Highway because most people don’t use it out side the cities.

Your user pays attitude could be extended to the Flying Doctor service which must cost a fortune to serve few people.

Since the nation’s resources are not infinite, we should concentrate more on how best to replace an end of life asset not merely chasing superficially attractive ideas.

As to struggling pensioners, when it comes to keeping them/us entertained an connected, the internet and its hardware are the best deal in town.

I again ask the question, why must I have fibre connected to my home. If I don't need something, I don't buy it. This government is forcing me to take it. Also what is to stop future governments using this NBN monopoly to raise revenue for a purpose not associated with the NBN. The government introduced compulsory super, said we wouldn't touch it, but now they are proposing just that.

Turnbull's plan will see the overall cost be reduced by more than $20 billion. Download speeds will be reduced, but still 10 times faster ADSL. If you want it, why can't you pay for it, instead of sharing the cost with me, because I don't need it.

I keep hearing how good it will be for business and public utilities. Great, for business it's a tax deduction. Public utilities, well paid for by the tax payer. At least we know where for once where our money has gone. Private individuals, most likely it's an image thing. I can't see any application where individuals would need it.

All public utilities already have fibre as does. Any moderately successful business can fund their own fibre if it's justified (most will find it's suddenly not as "essential" as they proclaimed once it's their own money and not someone else's).

oh dear Colin, Roger and many others . What a lack of vision by many. I don't need roads but I pay for them. I don't need medical assistance (I HAVE NEVER USED IT!) and yet I pay. I don't need parks nor fireworks nor festivals but I pay for them. It is called public good. Look up the term in economics 101 - perhaps in books published prior to the last decade or so of super conservative idiotic governments who have no idea how to create prosperity and wellbeing for current and future generations. Are those of you who are whingeing about paying for something they don't need over the age of 55?

So George, you don't use our roads or walk on our footpaths, and never been to a doctor or had a case where you used your, yes your own Medicare card. I find that very hard to believe. If you are paying for a Medicare card, you have a job. If you have a job it's very likely you have transport, quite possibly your own. You pay registration to help pay for the roads you drive on, or use. If you rely on your parents to drive you around, than you are NOT paying for the roads you use, they are. If you own property, which I doubt you would pay rates which pays for parks and special events like fireworks and festivals. You can use them because our rates made it possible. Sometimes you may be asked to make a donation, if you don't want to make a donation exercise your choice and don't go.

Yes I am over 55 George. I use roads and pay registration. I used parks and playgrounds and don't have a problem paying rates. I frequent a GP and don't have an issue about paying Medicare. I don't use firearms, but didn't have a problem with the increase in Medicare to cater for the buy back scheme. Same with the floods some years back.

Like most of those over 55, they know more about economics, prosperity and wellbeing for future generations than you properly ever will. We have spent a life time doing it, ask your parents. The biggest argument for this ultra fast broadband was to enhance business. If you check your economics, you may discover that this is a tax deduction. Hospitals and other public utilities will be connected via our taxes and rates. That leaves individuals like you. Why should I help you pay for it, for you.

That's what I object to. Handing my money over to you so you can skite how fast your network is. There is no benefit to this country, or me in your skiting. Lets face it, if what you said is true, you must be a recluse who spends all their awake life on the internet. I don't have an issue with fibre to node and copper to home. And in reality, my stance may just save you many future visits to a GP to get your play station thump looked at.

It appears that Tim Walsh is one of the geek cult trying hard to justify his own wishes using other peoples money. Having been involved as an executive for a long time he is playing with himself to believe that customers will sit and watch him on a video requiring supposed NBN speeds. What application does he want to appear on his monitor with yesterday speed. Just another wanker.

It appears that immature and ignorant people are still able to comment on this website, lowering the bar significantly for those who actually want to debate ideas. Straw Man beware. Graeme, you have not presented any legitimate facts or ideas regarding the article above. This leads me to believe that you are completely insecure with your own opinion or you simply do not know what you are talking about? Grown ups are talking, we'll be with you in a minute... You have no original thoughts and seem to be baffled by any criticism, so you resort to insults. If you have no legitimate arguments to make, perhaps you should go sit on the kiddies table and wait till home time. There are important issues to discuss, and you do not understand the significance of making the wrong decision... P.S I appreciate that you think I'm an executive.

Lets face it the nbn project was started without proper studies unlike say ,the Snowy River Scheme,and is running far behind its progressive target.We dont know how far over its budget the cost is and its unlikely that in its present form it will ever make the hurdle return to justify keeping it off budget.Serious corrective action is urgently required.Australia's business and public administration needs can be met more cheaply by mixing and matching technologies and existing assets.Australia does not have infinite resources of either capital or skilled labour.Over indulging the NBN project means less resources to apply to other infrastructure needs.A lot of private uses have low priority.

Actually the alternatives were well researched and what we Know as the NBN was the product of that expert panel , that is what was presented to K Rudd on that flight.
Also worth Noting all the commissions and enquiries over the 11 Year Howard reign - nothing was done or implemented (12 of). In fact you may wish to read the summary of the 2003 Senate inquiry into the Nations Communications and broadband. Readily available via the internet. HFC considered a dead end as built for multicast Pay TV, Spending a fortune enabling ADSL nationwide was considered irrational due to known issues with copper. FTTP was the preferred option then.

It really is just the most frustrating of activities, reading the blathering of the uninformed who appear, by their pallid responses, to want to remain such or blinded by partisan politics their lack of vision elicits stunted argument and fetid abuse. Bleat away, for where ever you pop up we shall counter your miserably low horizons.

You seem to be saying our grandfathers could create and instal the copper network but it is beyond the wit of the present generation to replace it (with something better).

Thank you Rob Burgess for adding a bit of balance to this NBN discussion.

The NBN is a classic example where the old saying "do it once, do it right" applies.
Get this right with FTTP, and no rework will be is required.

Turnbull's solution sounds like a repeat of the Telstra / Optus HFC cable fiasco.

I wish people would stop going on about wireless. Wireless has profound limitations (based on physics) not applicable to fibre.

Yes, wireless will get faster can capable of carrying more people.

But fibre will also get faster and higher bandwidth optics (swap out end NNIs and UNIs) and by dint of their character be suited to backhaul carriage and business, education, health and high BW data carriage.

Wireless: great for infill, not great for core use.

PS I am in an area in northern NSW not able to get xDSL and rely on expensive 3G, so will be very happy to get NBN LTE with 25/5 Mbps and 200G of data, but would much prefer fibre.

But to the point of the article.

Turnbull is either fundamentally stupid on this, or, and much more likely, playing the long game.

Tim Walsh you are flattering your self like your views if you think I consider you an executive. In fact given that you have spent all day criticising everyone with an opposite view I see you sitting around living off the system and wasting time in front of your monitor building apps that are of no benefit to anyone. Get a real job and contribute to Australia's well being.. It is called maturity.

Ultimately this has generated into a debate between the socialists and the free marketeers.The relative merits of socialism versus capatalism were demonstrated conclusively by the relative economic and social progress of the two Germanies between the end of World War Two and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I can't believe the reasoning behind many of these comments. I keep telling you, connecting fibre to your business is a tax deduction. Maybe Tim Marsh doesn't turn over enough to pay tax and get a deduction, that's why he needs everyone else to help him pay for it. All public entities will be afforded fibre out of our taxes. It's their choice.

Turnbull's scheme of fibre to node will save in excess of $20 billion. The NDIS and the schools program are two initiative that are worthwhile implementing. Both are currently unfunded and $20 billion would be more than adequate. Both schemes will ensure that the future of this country will grow and be safe. There are comments about creating prosperity, that what these two unfunded policies will do, more so than an ultra fast broadband for private individuals.

These attacks on the baby boomers. I wish people would wake up to themselves. These people fought in both world wars and other conflicts so you could have the freedom to have the internet. These people gave future generations a lot, particularly the freedom you now enjoy, the right to comment in the forum. It's not us not looking after future generations, it's the younger generation being selfish and expecting more than we can give. We can't tell them, or teach them because they are so blinded by their own self indulgence. It's not that it effects us so much, but it will those generations that will follow them.

The Coalitions scheme will give us adequate speeds and business and public utilities will be connected if needed and the savings made will ensure the future of all future generations. Our current younger generation needs to learn that to gain a little, you have to give a little.

""""""These attacks on the baby boomers. I wish people would wake up to themselves. These people fought in both world wars and other conflicts so you could have the freedom to have the internet. These people gave future generations a lot, particularly the freedom you now enjoy, the right to comment in the forum. It's not us not looking after future generations, it's the younger generation being selfish and expecting more than we can give. We can't tell them, or teach them because they are so blinded by their own self indulgence. It's not that it effects us so much, but it will those generations that will follow them.""""""""""""""

YOU HAVE GOTTA BE KIDDIN, those wonderful baby boomers that impended home savings grants in the 50's to help themselves buy houses (when these grants worked due to high levels of the grant and low population), along with Free University Education so they didn't have to pay for their kids university fees.
The baby boomers have done nothing but bludge on the efforts of those following, they have simply implemented freebies for themselves due to their voting power and as they have aged moved the freebies on and removed the older ones(free universities) for the following generations.
The only thing the coalitions NBN policy will achieve is the ruin of living standards for all future generations.

Kevin, guess what. I own property but have never received a home owners grant to help me with the purchase. Many, if not all baby boomers didn't get government assistance. I think you are getting baby boomers confused with generation Y. That's when all these grants came into place, as did the baby bonus. In case you can't comprehend most of us were too old to have children. I received a $34 a fortnight bonus from the government for having two children. It was called "family allowance". What do you get now, on top of the baby bonus.

If they have implemented "freebies" as you have said, where are they? We worked for what we got, fought wars so you could have a chance at it as well. Oh and by the way not many families in this era could afford to send their kids senior high, let alone university. If they did they certainly paid university fees. If the elderly had so much influence on governments, don't you think pensions would be much higher than what they are.

For heaven sake you lot. You have to get off your backside and work for it, if you want it. Don't sit in front of the play station and expect it for nothing. Baby boomers didn't. The majority of elderly are already living below the poverty line, you can't knock them back much further. My son is 23 and earns in excess of $60k per annum, because he went out and worked for it. The only thing he got from us was encouragement. It can be done.
All you have to do is stop blaming everyone else for your problems and look for a solution yourself.
No Kevin, you bludge, or try to at least, on those that came before you.