back to article Australia won't prescribe its national broadband network a high-fibre diet

Australia's federal government yesterday tabled its response to recommendations put by the parliamentary committee on the National Broadband Network, and has mostly rejected its recommendations. The response sees the government refuse to mandate that nbn™, the builder and operator of the NBN, increase the use of fibre to the …

  1. Youngone Silver badge

    My experience

    I have a fair bit of experience with the Chorus system, as rolled out in New Zealand, and to be fair it depends entirely on the subcontractor sent to your site.

    I spent 18 months arguing with various idiots sent by Chorus when I was trying to get a new (backup) fibre link into an industrial site in an industrial suburb in Auckland. Eventually a subbie turned up who listened to what I told him, made some notes and did as he was told. I had my new connection a week later.

    My home is down a shared driveway, so all the neighbours had to be involved in the fibre install which might have been a problem except my neighbours include a construction project manager and an infrastructure project manager so when the subbie turned up, they told him exactly what they wanted and how to do it and it all went very well.

    I expect the Aussie nbn debacle has something to do with the constant political interference. Over here the taxpayers handed over a bunch of money and told the network providers to get on with it, and it seems to have been not too bad.

    Depending on the quality of the sub contractor, obviously.

    1. jockmcthingiemibobb

      Re: My experience

      Taxpayers handed over a bunch of money? More like government borrowed overseas money to fund job/vote creation scheme.

  2. Big-nosed Pengie

    What a shithole country!

    1. Magani
      Thumb Down

      Right adjective; wrong noun

      What a shithole country!

      No, just a shithole government.

      1. ImmortanJoe

        Re: Right adjective; wrong noun

        I can't argue with that.

        In my very small town the techs have been hard at work for months trying to get cables laid and new inspection holes(?) in. Last I heard it will be active in April.

        At least because it is taking so long we are getting FttC. If it were FttN it'd be a worthless waste of effort.

        Our infrastructure is ancient PMG lead lines, in all around poor condition. My house is on the last working pair in the cable.

        I'm not excited about nbn, but having ancient, crumbling infrastructure replaced is another matter. As poor as the lines are I can still get 20Mbit down on ADSL2+ assuming the weather is dry.

        nbn is a terrible idea. It's like most things. Decided by politicians and then thrown at people who actually have some kind of awareness of the subject who are being told to make it work.

        1. BlackKnight(markb)

          Re: Right adjective; wrong noun

          The NBN was a brilliant Idea, initially poorly executed and then effectively sabotaged.

          should have just given telstra money to go build instead of now giving them more money to fix there decrept copper.

  3. Colin Tree

    definition of Cost-effective and Quickly

    "....the NBN....experts to use their discretion to choose the most appropriate technology to ensure the network is rolled out as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.”

    Cost-effective has to include long term maintenance.

    Quickly has to take into account time to correct sub-standard connections.

  4. Mayday Silver badge

    I have FTTB

    And be arsed if I get close to 100Mb!

    Much better than the bog standard ADSL2 I had in the same apartment previously but not a patch on non-NBN cable that I had in a previous residence. I warn anyone I know on cable (including my 60+yo parents) to avoid NBN until as long as possible.

    1. david 12 Bronze badge

      Re: I have FTTB

      > I warn anyone I know on cable (including my 60+yo parents) to avoid NBN until as long as possible.<

      Because the problem isn't the cable. Or the FTTB. Or the FTTN.

      It's the contention ratio.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I have FTTB

        >It's the contention ratio.

        ... and if it was fibre, rather than cable, it would be switched reducing the collision domain and you'd have proper networking tech rather than a bodged broadcast transport..

  5. Sampler

    In defence of the sub-title

    I do get 100 Mbps down and 40 Mbps up, but then I live in the city (well, Surry Hills) so should expect to get good performance.

    So far it doesn't crap out during peak hours either, so, that's a plus..

  6. Phil Kingston Silver badge

    "a three-stage process that starts with a scoping visit, after which external works are carried out, and ending with an internal build visit to complete the connection"

    I guess they've done the maths and found that multiple return visits by multiple subbies across extended time periods to the same address (and associated admin and customer services' time) to remediate basic issues is cheaper for them.

    1. GerryMC

      In practice, the Chorus techs sometimes combine the first and second visit (at least they did when I was connected last week). I have gone from 4.8/0.8 Mbps to 100/20Mps!

      Also, there are a hell of a lot of Chrous vans in the area at the moment - most of a suburb was connected just before Christmas.

  7. sms123

    I live in country Victoria and get 50/20 FTTH (I decided against ordering 100/40), took a shift in home location though since in Melbourne I got 3/1 over ADSL 2+. There's no comparison - FTTH rules!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'd kill for 15/5

  9. Dagg

    Don't have it yet

    And from what I've been reading I'm not sure I want it. I've only got ADSL2+ via old copper and it is sloooow 8mbps download but it now works reliably and it is cheap.

    Where I am I won't get FTTH I'll end up with FTTN and the rest in my crap copper so I can't see how that will make much of an improvement and from what I've been reading it looks like I'll be disconnected for weeks while they get their shit together cutting me over.

    Idiot bloody shitty government.

  10. Clive Harris

    This NBN rollout is rapidly turning into a shambles. My daughter ( a few miles down the road from me) had NBN installed a few months ago and she reports it as constantly breaking down and significantly less reliable than the ADSL she had before.

    Meanwhile, it's starting to become serious for me. My father (who lives with us) had a bad fall over Christmas and, as a result, I have to get an alarm button fitted. Mobile reception is very dodgy here, and we have frequent power cuts, so I need a reliable phone line. The NBN FTTN boxes are starting to sprout up in our street and I'm getting frequent letters and emails from NBNCo urging me to "make the switch".

    I can't get any reliable information on what happens to FTTN phone and internet services during a power cut. The advice on the NBN website is that they will stop working and I must "make alternative arrangements" (carrier pigeons I suppose). When the boxes first started appearing in our street, I cornered one of the technicians and asked him about this. His reply was that the boxes were supposed to be fitted with batteries, but they were being left out to save money. A couple of days ago, I saw another NBN technician working on the box outside my house. He told me that the boxes now had backup batteries and would run for up to 16 hours. He then opened the box to show me rows of 12V SLA packs inside it. However, he then told me to delay switching over as long as possible because the boxes were not yet working properly. He also commented that, in his opinion, these boxes would soon be ripped out and replaced with something more reliable.

    An FTTH connection would be ideal for me, provided I could supply backup power within the house but, from what I'm hearing, I first have to get FTTN fitted and then ripped out again, and it would than cost me thousands (if it's even possible). This whole thing is rapidly becoming a real headache.

  11. bd1235

    This whole NBN system has been a shitty mess from the instant it was conceived on a piece of toilet paper by a previous government. It was conceived by a couple of politicians who then expected their dream to work. As an after thought they decided to include the techos. The end result has been a mess. The thought bubble cost was supposed to be about AU$4 billion IIRC. I think it's now heading towards AU$70 billion and rising like a baking cake.

    The original concept was fibre to the home which was costing a lot of money to install the fibre into the houses. A subsequent government (different brand) decided the country could not afford the cost and asked NBN to come up with other ways to make the connection. They came up with the idea of fibre close to the home and existing copper pairs for the last "mile" or few metres.

    This, I believe, is what BT is doing in the UK. There was a recent comment by a BT exec that fibre to the home was a noble objective but too costly and too long to implement. However, they are aiming for FTTH in the future but get everybody a service first.

    The maximum speed of the services being offered now are fast enough for most people. It appears many people are opting for considerably less than the maximum speed probably because of cost. People can still do a couple of channels of Netflix and browse simultaneously at those lower speeds. If people want it is possible to pay extra and get FTTH. Indeed, why should the rest of Australia subsidise the needs of a few gamers and commercial users.

    I have FTTH right into one of the bedroom cupboards and it is good but probably no better than any other service that supplies the data at a speed that you can pay for. I only pay for 25/5 megabits. It works well enough for me. My previous adsl2+ worked OK also.

    I live in a new village development and a previous government (same brand who used shit paper for the design) mandated that these developments should have fibre. The house was built with conduit and draw wires all the way from across the street by the developer. When the NBN guy came to do the install about 3 years back it took him about 60 minutes including testing. It would have taken much longer if he had to run the fibre all the way into an existing house. This is where the heavy cost would be that the current government is trying to lower by using existing copper.

    1. Rattus Rattus


      Thanks for commenting, Mr Turnbull, but haven't your lot got tired of the "Everything's Labor's fault!" line yet?

      1. mathew42

        Re: @bd1235

        When you look at how the core Labor policy of a national network with speed tiers with the lowest speed pricing equivalent to ADSL pricing, the LNP changes haven't impacted that much.

        Surprisingly the reduction of CVC from Labor's $20 to $8 which is the cheapest Labor expected doesn't get much press.

    2. Frank Oz

      "Indeed, why should the rest of Australia subsidise the needs of a few gamers and commercial users."

      Yup ... instead we should pay 90% of the cost of an FTTH network, and get less than 10% of the capability, bandwidth and scalability. In some quarters that may look like sound economics ... but from my perspective it's a short-sighted nonsense.

      I got an HFC connection at my place, that absolutely will not go over 44/19.

      The NBN ... building yesterdays network for tomorrow.

      1. Rattus Rattus

        90% of the [construction] cost of an FTTH network

        ...and 10,000% of the ongoing maintenance costs.

  12. mathew42

    FTTP doesn't help 84% on 25Mbps or slower

    The committee's recommendations don't address the more basic issues of

    • 84% connecting at 25Mbps or slower (ACCC NBN Wholesale Market Indicators Report) that has been caused by Labor's speed tiers.
    • RSPs selling unlimited plans with insufficient CVC causing peak period congestion
    Switching to FTTP will only benefit the <1% that Labor optimistically predicted in the NBNCo Corporate Plan would connect at 1Gbps in 2026.

    The public have overwhelmingly determined that they prefer a cheap 25Mbps unlimited data plan to faster plans with a quota. A few quality RSPs only sell plans with quotas and customers don't experience congestion. For those on FTTN who want 100Mbps, the technology change process exists.

  13. CentralCoasty

    I'm just so over this whole NBN mess that I refuse to comment anymore....

    .... oh.... bugger... I just have havent I?

  14. Anonymous Coward

    My street (a split road one part high one part low) has HFC, it also has (Telstra) fiber and TPG ran their own fiber 3/4 of the way down the street but did not do the other side of the street, there are only two houses left on the street most being replaced by units way back in the 1970's.

    The telephone exchange in my 1968 unit block is archaic and I get little response from HFC companies, as I get 5cm sparks from my cable to my TV for RFC aerial connection especially when people are using the internet. It has wiped out several TV's and set top boxes.

    I have taken to using mobile internet and was continually harassed to upgrade to 4G, but replacing my USB 3g with a similar 4g one proved impossible,Vodafone advertised them but never had them in stock.

    I was instead pushed onto a 4g wi-fi hot spot, it sticks on 24kb/ps (yes that's 24kilobytes per second) much of the time and rebooting it many times is required to get the 3g or 4g service I should expect from my package, the device cannot, it seems switch from 3g to 4g or back, I have to administer the device and manually switch it over. it offers some advantage as 3g or 4g can suffer from high traffic over the other service.

    I was originally offered a $30 for 8gb deal which they took away and dropped me to $30 for 4gb.

    I would love a NBN with 12.5mb/ps and 25mb/ps would be the bees knees.

  15. kokoro

    Bypass altogether?

    My building is one of the first in the area north metro sydney to have nbn FTTB 2 months now but no one can really give me an idea of how it will perform. Scared to cut my business grade ADSL that rarely gets congestion cause I pay more for it not to and don't need more than 100gb a month based on other work locations.

    I use my Virgin Optus 4g to upload big media files as needed and note that with both Optus and Virgin 4g I can reach 55-60/18-20 with no sign of congestion.

    Thinking of cutting the ADSL and just getting a fat 140gb month plan for $65 with Virgin. Wondering what people's thoughts are of skipping the nbn altogether and going this route? I presume it could start good and get worse as all the houses are connected.

    1. mathew42

      Re: Bypass altogether?

      The biggest performance issue with the NBN is RSPs selling unlimited data plans with inadequate CVC. Pick an ISP like AussieBroadband who don't sell unlimited data plans and performance shouldn't be an issue.

      FTTB performance should be close to 100Mbps unless you are in an exceptionally large complex or your building wiring is very old.

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