The Coalition Election Promises

In the Coalition's Plan for Fast Broadband and an Afforable NBN of April 2013 they stated:

Our goal is for every household and business to have access to broadband with a download data rate of between 25 and 100 Mbps by late 2016. Downloads average less than five megabits per second at present.

In Tony Abbott's Address to the Nation Press Club in Jan 2013 he said:

Our fibre-to-the-node plan will deliver superfast broadband for a fraction of the price and in a fraction of the time required to deliver fibre to the front door. And Malcolm Turnbull is the right person to give Australians a 21st Century network because he is one of Australia’s internet pioneers.



In The Register on 1 Sep 2017, Richard Chirgwin wrote:

There's nothing wrong with fibre-to-the-node (FTTN), nothing at all – but nbn™, the company building Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN), has decided to move more than a million premises onto other technologies. News of the change came in a new corporate plan released yesterday, which detailed how lucky householders who don't get stuck with FTTN will instead get hybrid fibre-coax (HFC) or fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC).



FTTN is Temporary

It wil have to be upgraded because:

  • It is too slow for many.
  • It is too unreliable.

Total cost after upgrade will far exceed FTTP.


Current Status

Mike Quigley, the former CEO of NBN Co summarized the current status of the NBN in a talk to the Melbourne Networked Society Institute and Telsoc.

The drivers for faster speeds and capacities for fixed broadband have not abated , quite the contrary. The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that internet usage has increased 400% in the last 4 years and Cisco is forecasting that global broadband speeds will nearly double between 2015 and 2020.

That is why in the US and Asia the debate is about Gigabit per second speeds not about whether 25 or 50Mb/s is sufficient.

It is a bit surprising that we continue to hear the argument that “nobody is buying a 1 Gig service today, so why build a network that can deliver that much speed – 25 to 50 Mbps is more than enough”.

This has been a constant mantra of the Coalition, and they were supported in this view by their hand-picked Vertigan committee, who, if I remember correctly, assumed that the median household would require only 15Mb/s by 2023.

It seems especially curious that a Government that styles itself as the “Innovation and Infrastructure Government” should argue this. Because this argument betrays a complete lack of understanding of what the original FTTP NBN was all about.

It was about providing the vital infrastructure that Australia needs in order to remain competitive internationally in the 21st century.

It is arguably true that today most homes and businesses can get by with speeds of up to 50 Mbps. But already there are many home based businesses that can’t and that are demanding 100 Mbps or more.

Gigabit services are just starting to emerge elsewhere in the world, so the applications that can take advantage of this type of speed are in their infancy. But we all know they are coming.

To spend billions of dollars to build a major piece of national infrastructure that just about meets demand today, but doesn’t allow for any significant growth in that demand over the next 10 or 20 years is incredibly short sighted.

It is such a pity that so much time and effort has been spent on trying to discredit and destroy the original FTTP based NBN plan. And equally a pity that the Coalition has put their faith in what has turned out to be a short-sighted, expensive and backward looking MTM plan based on copper.

The nation is going to be bearing the consequences of those decisions for years to come in higher costs and poorer performance in an area that is critical to its long term future.

Betting tens of billions of taxpayers dollars at this time on copper access technologies, as the Coalition has done, is a huge miscalculation.