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What to make of the NBN chaos « Previous | |Next »
April 11, 2014

Renai Le May has it about right on the Coaltion's broadband network. Nobody really knows what's going on. It appears that their policy of Fibre to the Node, which Turnbull took to the election, is quietly being dropped.

PopeDNBNTurnbull.jpg David Pope

What we appear to have is "NBN" chaos and confusion. That is what Renai Le May is giving voice to--a sense of growing disquiet. Nobody seems to know what is going on.

So here's a suggestion-- the NBN is being dismantled because it is against the interests of Murdoch, Foxtel and free to air television. Proper Fiber to the Premises network (FFTP) means that anyone with a fibre connection and decent plan (business or otherwise) can become a “TV” broadcaster. It allows new broadcasters to enter the marking without the initial barrier of the enormous cost.

What is being put in place is what is in the interests of Murdoch, Foxtel and free-to -air television. Protecting Foxtel is the key. Making sure Foxtel goes unchallenged as the premium content provider in Australia, while also having the taxpayer pay to complete the Foxtel network, and increase its market two fold. They also want to hand off as much of the NBN infrastructure as possible to the private sector.

This kind of crude thinking is the only way that I can make sense of the chaos. It's deliberate. Abbott's remit to Turnbull was to destroy the NBN. The Coalition do not want the NBN in any form.

The politics of it is that the Coalition are content to blame the ALP for the mess and chaos that Turnbull is creating. The tactic is to kick Labor while they are down, bury any legacy (Gonski, the NDIS, carbon pricing leading to an ETS, the MRRT, SuperClinics (health), TAFEs) and the digital vision of the previous Gillard/Rudd government. The strategy is to destroy Labor as a political force.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:01 AM | | Comments (12)


Many people thought that although Turnbull’s Broadband wasn’t as good as Labor's NBN, near enough was good enough. It looks like this not going to be the case.

The ALP isn't going to spend any time defending Rudd or Gillard policies. Both those names are poison in the current ALP. But we will have to wait a bit longer for new policies, because the ALP is on holiday. They always go on holiday for about a year after they lose an election. When they get back, they will cobble together new policies which the current leadership (such as it is) can claim as all its own. And those policies will, I'm tipping, represent a huge lurch to the Right.

It does look as if the Coalition has little interest in building a stable, viable communications system into the future, to convey the social and intellectual capital of the nation.

"near enough was good enough. It looks like this not going to be the case."

The Coalition can’t give everyone 25mbps.
They can’t do it by 2016.
They can’t do it for 29.5 billion either.

sadly Labor's pair of communications spokespeople, Jason Clare and Michelle Rowland, have failed to make headway on holding Turnbull to account with respect to his claims that NBN Co would be run in a more transparent, business-like fashion.

Turnbull has argued vociferously that Australia’s broadband lies not in fibre to the premises (FTTP) – but in fibre to the node (FTTN).

Turnbull knows that his ability to deliver any of his new NBN policy depends entirely on the largesse of Telstra, which is certain to take its sweet time in allowing the government to rewrite any part of the $11b deal it secured years ago withe Gillard Govt.

Switkowski is now publicly advocating the purchase of Telstra's copper network – going against technical advice, common sense, and business logic.

Crazy stuff.

the cost of maintaining the copper network will be massive.

Why buy it when the copper is going to have to be upgraded to fibre in as short a time as 5 years? Fibre to the node (FTTN) is a temporary system and we will come up against the technological limits of the copper network and the hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) network very quickly.

Turnbull's Statement of Expectation says that the NBN Co:

(1) is to roll-out a wholesale-only, cost-efficient, multi-technology mix network with discretion over the rollout and technology used so long as it stays within an AU$29.5 billion public equity cap.

(2) NBN Co must provide a minimum 25Mbps download speed, and a "proportionate" upload speed to all premises, and 50Mbps to 90 percent of premises "as soon as possible".

The political spin will be that problems are bigger than anyone knew, they will take longer to be successful, they are more expensive than we thought.

"[Turnbull's] claims that NBN Co would be run in a more transparent, business-like fashion."

Minister Turnbull's plan for the use of a “mix of technologies” is not supported by a cost-benefit analysis.

He says that Telstra shouldn't be out of pocket relative to what they had agreed to before, and the taxpayer shouldn't be exposed to higher costs, unless they're getting more services.

How does that square with the high maintenance cost of the copper network that NBN Co would own?

"Switkowski is now publicly advocating the purchase of Telstra's copper network"

Switkowski preferred option in the renegotiated agreement with Telstra is not for NBN Co to take possession of the Telstra exchanges and the entire copper/telephone infrastructure network.

What Switkowski is talking about is the 800 or so metres of copper from the FTTN street cabinets to customer premises.

"- the NBN is being dismantled because it is against the interests of Murdoch, Foxtel and free to air television."

The big question is what the rise of on-demand streaming means --eg., Netflix--for the consumption of both pay and free-to-air television in the future. Presently ion-demand streaming is still a niche activity, with the overwhelming amount of video consumption is happening via broadcast channels.

That will quickly change when Netflix arrives in Australia.

Theres an app for everything now and most people are using their phones for their internet access. The need for NBN is diminishing and its off the political agenda it seems.