back to article Turnbull says no need to future-proof NBN

Those who feel Australia should invest in a future-proof National Broadband Network (NBN), and that a fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network offers the best long-term investment, have new reason to take umbrage with the nation's communications minister Malcolm Turnbull after he yesterday said a quick-and-cheap approach is the best …

  1. LaeMing Silver badge

    "Quick and cheap"

    Our Feral government in a nutshell.

    Afterall, why invest in a future that they personally won't be around to benefit from?

    May their children build a slude-reclamation-works on their graves!


    I deeply suspect this is part of a plan to drag us down to third-world-levels before selling us across the pacific into the Union of States.

  2. MrDamage

    As smart as Turdball is...

    I believe the irony of his statements was lost on him.

    >> "We must never approach problems in a rigid, ideological way harking back to the past."

    Tell me Malcolm, did you hear a "whooshing" sound overhead as you uttered those words?

  3. aberglas

    Would you Future-proof a PC?

    Software always gets slower. So if you buy a PC today is it best to buy one that is adequate for what you want to do now, or is it better to pay top dollar for a high speed server that might be able to run future software as well?

    Answer: Just pay for what you need today. Tomorrow the hardware will be much cheaper. And you probably won't even want a PC tomorrow, but a super tablet. The future in IT is unpredictable. It is madness to over invest today for an uncertain future. Even more so when one considers the net present value of money.

    Likewise, build the NBN for what we need now. But do build it now. Not over the next 20 years.

    1. Scoular

      Re: Would you Future-proof a PC?

      I have to suspect that you have never been involved in building systems which are going to be used for many years. In some cases buying just for the present is justified but for systems the situation is much more complex.

      Even at the PC level spending a bit more now and having the computer last five or six years may be quite a reasonable approach.

      1. Al Black

        Re: Would you Future-proof a PC?

        Reasonable for the PC Vendor, perhaps. I have always bought the PC with specs that were cutting edge 12 months ago, that they can barely give away today. This has saved me thousands over buying the cutting edge machine of today. The same does apply to the NBN, especially to the Fibre to the home option. PC's are being replaced by mobile devices, cables by wireless. Only the fibre to the node option still makes sense in a wireless future, which is already here: it's just not very evenly distributed.

        1. BlackKnight(markb)

          Re: Would you Future-proof a PC?

          I take it you've never been responsibly for maintaining critical services over wireless (heres a hint it doesnt work that well)

          Wireless is a access technology only, for high speed you need line of sight, this get messed up in storms or even just fog. Using wireless to connect thousands of houses in an area to a radio antenna will result in speeds akin to what most people get on 3G in high density locations.

          to have a hope in hell of making it work you would need as many antennas as there putting in cabinets for the MTM solution. its cheaper just to run fibre at this point.

          Radio equipment is active, so you would need backups if your going to run voice for say emergancy calls over it. its also reasonably expensive, exposed to weather and vandals and vulnerable to some twat in a car running around with a transmitter blocking it out for fun. lets not mention the ease at which one could collect vase somes of data to analyse. one little hiccup in security and everyones private communicatinos are up for grabs. But sure go wireless for wan links for the entire country sounds like a solid plan....

    2. Chuq

      Re: Would you Future-proof a PC?

      Not really a good comparison - it takes a couple of hours to upgrade a PC. It takes 5-10 years to build a national broadband network in a country the size of Australia. You don't want to have to start the next NBN before you've finished the current one.

      Most of the cost of building the NBN is civil works and logistics. If you're going to be digging up roads and footpaths, running cables into peoples houses, you might as well spent the little bit extra and put in a cable that you won't need to dig up again for over 50 years, rather than in 5 years.

      1. Al Black

        Re: Would you Future-proof a PC?

        "If you're going to be digging up roads and footpaths, running cables into peoples houses", you are going to run out of money very fast. Running cables to the home should be a user pays exercise. Most people don't need Gbps Internet, and those who do should pay for it.

        1. Thorne

          Re: Would you Future-proof a PC?

          "Most people don't need Gbps Internet, and those who do should pay for it."

          Users pay every month every bill that comes in and saying most people don't need gigabit internet is right up there with Bill Gate's statement that 640K is more than enough for anyone.

          Yes right now but five years? Ten years? Twenty years?

          Copper has reached the end of it's life. Wireless is congested. Satellite is laggy. Fibre is the only real solution and there comes a point where it's cheaper to swap all copper to fibre than maintain two sets of infrastructure.

          FTTN is no better than ADSL2 once you are more than 300M from the node. At some point (very soon) where FTTN will have to ripped out and FTTH put in.

          Do the job once and do the job properly.

      2. RPG

        Re: Would you Future-proof a PC?

        5-10 years, well its been 8 and still waiting to even get on the NBN map so its going to be at least 9.5 yeasr from NBN's start before I get on the NBN map. I favoured a mixed technology solution - it would speed up rollout to improve my 2Mbps xDSL performance but there you go. It seems no government organisation can run a major infrastructure project efficiently, at least not since the Snowy Mountain Hydro project, but that was run by a Kiwi in the top job - LOL.

    3. JamesTQuirk

      Re: Would you Future-proof a PC?

      I wonder how robots, Drones, AI Cars, are going to use to communicate VAST amounts of DATA that they need too, to work .....

      After the Liberals/Labour destroying all manufacturing in Australia, inc Car Industry, selling off all assets they can, how is it surprising, remember, they cannot run public services/infrastructure profitably, but they have a mate who can ...

    4. Thorne

      Re: Would you Future-proof a PC?

      "Answer: Just pay for what you need today. Tomorrow the hardware will be much cheaper. And you probably won't even want a PC tomorrow, but a super tablet. The future in IT is unpredictable. It is madness to over invest today for an uncertain future. Even more so when one considers the net present value of money."

      Are you stupid?

      Do you buy a new computer that does just as much as the old computer you have now just because it's 75% the price of a new awesome computer that will do everything you want for the next 50 year?

      No you spend a bit more and not buy a piece of crap.

    5. BlackKnight(markb)

      Re: Would you Future-proof a PC?

      Yes I do, It allows me to spend far less in the years after and maintain performance with the latest application. so i spent $2500 on my PC to begin with and every 2 years i spend about another $500 upgrading part of it. instead of spending another $2000 every 2 years to buy a new one.

      But comparing PC parts to the NBN is like comparing car upgrades to a highway project. your literally not taking about the same thing.

      Did you miss the part about the build time for either solution? 8 years or so for the current plan. there literally putting in yesterdays technology for tomorrow under this plan. at least with a FTTH you would be laying the foundation for what we will be needing in 10 years time. The liberal solution is already well behind schedule as for some reason they thought that redesigning the solution from scratch could be done in less then a year. they are as imcompetent as labor was with there time frames.

      Upgrading the Multi technology solution will involve ripping out those shiny new sidewalk cabinets and removing the copper to replace it with fibre anyway as well as upgrading the exchanges and client equipment.

      Upgrading the FTTH from 100mbps to 1gbps when its needed will require changing the hardware at the datacentre and the customer site. significantly easier upgrade path.

  4. Jon B

    No FTTN to FTTP pathway?

    I thought the whole idea of doing fibre to the node first was to allow cheaper initially costs whilst benefiting more people quicker. Once the FTTN network is in place, then work on the last mile improvements in the future. I thought the NBN was being specifially designed this way?

    In New Zealand we had FTTN completed in about 2010, by Telecom (the equivalent of Telstra). However the FTTH network now being built, currently half completed, involves mainly overbuilding the existing FTTN network instead of expanding it to the last mile. I assumed NBN had learnt this lesson and was future-proofing the FTTN to allow FTTH easier and cheaper in the future?

    1. Steven Roper

      Re: No FTTN to FTTP pathway?

      In New Zealand we had FTTN completed in about 2010

      That's because New Zealand doesn't consist of 8 million square kilometres of the kind of terrain one normally only encounters in Frank Herbert novels. Australia has a lot of peculiar issues when it comes to infrastructure, and I'm not at all surprised that the whole NBN project has gone awry; I knew it would the moment Labor first mooted it, simply because I know what this country is and what its environment does to man-made objects. I'd wager few, if any, of the high-living politicians mooting it from the comfort of their air-conditioned Sydney and Canberra offices, have ever actually ventured out into the Great Red Nothing that most of this continent consists of; if they've seen anything of it at all, it is most likely through the little window of an aircraft flying just under Mach 1 10 kilometres above it, and so it was inevitable that they'd grossly underestimate the problems and costs involved.

      Even if we discounted connecting all the rural centres and gave each city its own satellite uplink instead of running cables all over countryside comparable to that of Arrakis, Australian cities are not like most others in the developed world. They sprawl out over a huge area, making it an expensive proposition to connect up each separate house. My own home city of Adelaide, for example, is geographically bigger than London, but has only 1/8 of the population. From this you can work out that the per-capita cost of hooking up a city the size of Adelaide would be more than 8 times that of London; since Adelaide's median income is definitely not 8 times that of the average Londoner, it's not at all surprising that we've had these difficulties, and in fact I find it amazing that we've achieved as much as we have!

    2. Thorne

      Re: No FTTN to FTTP pathway?

      "I assumed NBN had learnt this lesson and was future-proofing the FTTN to allow FTTH easier and cheaper in the future?"

      Don't be stupid. The Lib's solution is the cheapest and nastiest they could find cause when it needs to be upgraded, that's someone else's problem. They'll get voted out before FTTN is even finished let alone upgraded.....

    3. BlackKnight(markb)

      Re: No FTTN to FTTP pathway?

      The only reusable part of the FTTN network will be the fibre, the active equipment and the cabinets will all have to go. which is an extrodinary total build cost.

      You guys had FTTN in 2010 which means they were building it in 2005 at the latest, when FTTN and those speeds made sense. its now 2015 and we dont have either a FTTN or FTTH network.

      if your had a business and managed to not upgrade your servers\desktops for 10 years. would you look at the technolgy from 5 years ago or just consider your current and upcoming requirements?

  5. Sebastian A

    Sound reasoning, really.

    Don't waste time and effort trying to future-proof something against a future you cannot accurately predict (nor will be the one paying for). Just slap something together with second-hand parts and n-2 technology, and replace the whole kit every 5-10 years.

    1. Thorne

      Re: Sound reasoning, really.

      If everyone had logic like that we'd still be using pigeons.....

  6. Tailgator

    According to the latest ACCC telecommunications report the Liberal's MTM won't be so cheap for consumers.

  7. mathew42

    Demand for Labor's FTTP network: 38% at 12Mbps, 38% at 25Mbps

    The problem is that the Australian public (as Labor predicted in the NBNCo Corporate Plans) doesn't have a desire to pay more for faster speeds. In the latest published documents from NBNCo (sse the media release on their website), 38% are connecting at 12Mbps and a further 38% have chosen to connect at 25Mbps.

    Sadly by supporting Labor's speed tiers many whining on this forum and others have put at risk their own high speed connection.

    1. Tannin

      Re: Demand for Labor's FTTP network: 38% at 12Mbps, 38% at 25Mbps

      Two problems here:

      1: takeup of faster speeds was always going to take time. In any case, most users aren't as fussed about speed (within reason) as they are about download allowance. People willingly pay more for extra download, but generally don't see the value in extra speed until they start having trouble maxing out their download allowance or see stuttering video.

      2: FTTP is cheaper than FTTN. Once you average out the extra cost of replacing the cheapskate short-term upgrade Turnbull is building, over time doing it once and doing it right the first time is far more cost effective.

      1. Michael Xion

        Re: Demand for Labor's FTTP network: 38% at 12Mbps, 38% at 25Mbps

        Also, how many of those who took up the lower speeds mentioned were languishing on ADSL of less than 10mbps? From memory, the 'average' broadband speed in Oz is something like 7-8mbps. For me, and many of the people I know, upstream speed is the issue at the moment - something that FTTH can fix.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who needs fast broadband anyway?

    Canberra Luddites Club meets every other month.

    New members unwelcome.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I remember a certain company that incessantly dragged it's feet on DSL because it was ideologically wedded to it's love for an ageing ISDN. This is technology, look ahead, but go where the technology and economics take you - not an ideological bent.

  10. dshan

    Keep Making the Same Mistakes

    Hmm, after reading that load of politician BS-speak I'm starting to wonder if Tony's really all that bad...

    But seriously, the amazing thing is how both sides of politics, and both NBN Cos, are predicated on the shared ideology that the company must be sold off to private investors asap after the NBN is finished (or nearly finished).

    Despite the overwhelming evidence from the abortive privatisation of Telstra and the endless billions that has cost us taxpayers, the endless negotiations, disputes with the regulator and rivers of money spent trying to undo Telstra's oppressive government-created monopoly over the last mile, neither political party dares contemplate the idea that creating another private "natural" monopoly in the form of a privatised NBN Co. might not be such a great idea.

    We spend $12+B in bribes to free ourselves from the dead hand of Telstra's local loop monopoly, tens of billions more to actually build the NBN, and then promptly turn that victory into another private monopoly and start the whole process over again!

    How many trillions will it cost our children and grandchildren to free themselves from the monopoly of NBN Co.?

    1. JamesTQuirk

      Re: Keep Making the Same Mistakes


      ? The monopoly, where profits came back into publics coffers, not a private individuals pockets, When the phones(elec/water) where cheaper before they started selling it off to their corporate buddies ? How many have noticed, how infrastructure cost are cheaper when things are "privatised", What a load of crap, everything costs way more, and underlying infrastructure gets NO upkeep till it falls over, & then they call for government to do repairs, & if your a "privatised" bank, all sin's are forgiven from public purse ..

      Tony is a pommy, born in London, only interested in getting a gong, (first thing he did as PM, bring back Knighthoods), he & his associates are destroying strip mining Australia, selling it's assets & infrastructure to oversea's "investors" ..

      I am old & broken, I cannot do much, but I notice the "younger types" are really not happy either, from some of convo's & "speeches" you hear in Pubs & Clubs & around Western Sydney, I believe they have a chance to be, deservingly so, Australia's first assassinated politicians, ordinary people are getting angry, as politicians look after their & friends business interest's, not the Australian People or it's economy ...

      1. Al Black

        Keep Making the Same Mistakes

        dshan, You seriously need a personality adjustment: virtually everything you say is wrong.

        1) Every time a business is run by a government it costs far more than the same business run by Private Enterprise. Why? Because Governments are lousy employers with a conflict of interests: they'd like to manage the business, but they also want to be re-elected: they are useless at making the hard decisions that businesses make every day.

        2) Tony is an Australian who came here from England as a child: that makes him as Aussie as every other immigrant. Didn't you notice the last Labor Government "destroying strip mining Australia, selling it's assets & infrastructure to overseas "investors" "? Nothing much has changed in the last 18 months because this Government is blocked at every turn by a Labor/Green dominated Senate. The legislative framework is very much what Labor left us with: you can't blame Tony or the Liberals for any of this stuff.

        3) Your final, hate-filled paragraph could have been written by Man Monis before he headed to Martin Place. You need to take a good hard look at yourself, then seek counselling or other psychological aid. You clearly need help.

        1. JamesTQuirk

          Re: Keep Making the Same Mistakes

          Al Black

          you barked at wrong person ...

          1 ) Bullshit, Because personal greed is American Mantra, doesn't make it Australian, it is America's corporate greed that we have most of these problems, we have already seen Water & Electricity distribution systems crash from lack of upkeep, here & NZ, I remember when Public Service was a honour, not a Career move, but if they are paid as "executives", except they can't run anything these days, and just sell it off to their friends, who miraculously can make it profit ....

          2) Yes we can, all the way to Menzies & "pig iron bob" & their ilk, Tony is a "pommy" because he wants to return us to the "Menzies" era, where the queen is boss, & he gets pretty jewelry to wear, like the pounce he is ...

          3) It wasn't hate, it was the truth, glad you idiots can't see it, it may be kinder that way. Governments can't keep hacking @ disabled, pensioners & parents, while taxing the shit out their kids, propping up profits & banks for failing economies, and expect people to be happy, I have heard some nasty crap about government needing to be changed, from Salvation Army Officers, so it is more than just noisy minions ...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Keep Making the Same Mistakes

      Yes Minister!

  11. JJKing Silver badge

    It's about time for the government to fear the people. (I just wish to original words had been mine)

  12. Urh

    "And yet the Intergenerational Report calls for us to leave a better future for our kids"

    The Baby Boomers have failed spectacularly in this regard. 'nuff said.

    1. Thorne

      "And yet the Intergenerational Report calls for us to leave a better future for our kids"

      Yet three pollies who benefited from a free education are busy bringing in $100,000 degrees. Talk about intergenerational theft......

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