Quigley: Turnbull butchered the NBN

From Domainfax:

The first chief executive of the National Broadband Network has weighed into the election debate on broadband policy to declare the Coalition’s multi-technology rollout a “colossal mistake” and back Labor’s plan to increase the use of fibre directly to the home.

In a rare public intervention, Mike Quigley told the University of Melbourne in a speech on Wednesday night that Labor’s original plan to deliver fibre-to-the-premises to 93 per cent of the population would have cost $45 billion – far less than estimates of $64 billion to $94 billion.

He criticised the financial assumptions which the Coalition used when it was in opposition to discredit Labor’s project. He called their forecast of a cost blow-out to over $94 billion “a fiction” and “impossible to be arrived at by sane analysis”.

He said every forecast made by NBN Co before the 2013 election, and for which there was now data, proved NBN Co’s estimates were right. For example, in 2013 NBN Co estimated the average revenue per user per month would be $39 by 2015. The Coalition forecast it would only be $29. In fact, average revenue per user was now at $43.

…In the speech, Mr Quigley rubbished the copper-based fibre-to-the-node technology, a centrepiece of the Coalition’s rollout, and said fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) “is the only safe long-term bet for Australia’s fixed broadband network”.

“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, without large upgrade costs, is incredibly short-sighted,” he said.

…”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 [mixed technology model] 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.”

I can’t comment on the technologies but it did always strike me as pretty stupid to change tech mid-stride and to limit an off balance sheet – that is, no impact upon the Budget – huge productivity-oriented infrastructure program in the middle of an historic capex crash:


History is surely bearing that out now.


  1. The Patrician

    Mission accomplished
    There is probably no greater barrier to improving our productivity and competitiveness than our third world telecommunications infrastructure
    Thanks Telstra
    Thanks Rupert
    Thanks Malcolm

    • Tens of billions of dollars of taxpayers money wasted so that the Foxtel monopoly can be maintained, and News Corp can in turn support the Coalition at the federal election.

      The political corruption in this country is disgraceful.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        I must admit I struggle with this particular line of nefarious reasoning. Even good old ADSL2 is fast enough to be a competitive TV alternative.

        What FTTP delivers over FTTN is easy scalability and decent upload speeds.

        IMHO the Liberal opposition to the NBN was primarily from Tony “Dr No” Abbot, and to a lesser degree just their general hate of public infrastructure.

      • “Even good old ADSL2 is fast enough to be a competitive TV alternative.”

        At its best possibly but we struggle with a single HD TV stream on my ADSL2 connection (25km from Melbourne CBD), let alone multiple HD streams or a single 4k stream.

        I do also struggle with the Foxtel conspiracy theories though as Foxtel still owns the rights it does no matter whether the content is delivered via cable or the NBN. Sure illegal downloads might become slightly more of a problem with a faster NBN but it’s easy enough to queue them up overnight even on a slow connection.

      • Speed not good enough for full hd in many cases. And when you say Foxtel still have the rights they don’t. There are exclusive deals with other providers. e.g. Better Call Saul on Stan, English Premier League now with Optus, etc. High speed internet will be the death of $130/month Foxtel subscriptions as it will be a snowball of other providers getting more subscribers, and having more money available for exclusive deals.

        As for conspiracy theories, ask yourself why we have so many policies skewed towards the rich minority. Our politicians are corrupt to the core. Not necessarily in an obviously illegal Obeid manner, or a can’t prove its illegal Fishermen’s Bend manner, but in a more subtle “I hope they look after Ian McFarlane in retirement” manner as suggested by Tony Abbott. Now remind me how Turnbull managed to be the only investor to get his money out of a failed startup? oh thats right, it was a deal struck with one of the board members who also happened to be a liberal politician.

      • The Foxtel thing is why the Coalition wants to kill it.

        It’s upload.

        But yeah, it won’t help the old fart.

      • I do also struggle with the Foxtel conspiracy theories though as Foxtel still owns the rights it does no matter whether the content is delivered via cable or the NBN.

        BUT if Foxtel are forced to compete without their infrastructure advantage, they will need to lower their margins and will find it harder to afford all those exclusive rights agreements.

  2. Ronin8317MEMBER

    While I believe FTTH is the way to go,ALP’s track record was a disaster. The ‘report’ neglected to mention most area where NBN was rolled out have little to no subscribers, because premuses are simply not connected!! My friend who has NBN now had the area ‘rolled out’, but had to wait two years before anything was connected!!
    The last thing we need is another ‘reset’. If we change plan ebery 3 years then it’ll be another two decade before all Australian get decent broadband.

    • sydboy007MEMBER

      I work for an RSP and I can tell you after 12 months of an area going live that customers sign up quite rapidly.

      An issue you need to factor in initial slow uptake is that a lot of people are under contract and if they’re not happy with their provider will have to wait till they’re out of contract sign up to NBN.

      One great thing about FTTP is that a customer can have a working ADSL connection till their NBN connection is live. We are having so many issues with FTTN. Just had a customer who signed up for 100/40 on FTTN complaining of speed issues. Turned out their sync speed is 46/23 so NBN has to take the revenue cut as the customer is WILLING to pay for 100/40 but is not able to get the level of service. They’re option is to pay for a 50/20 plan but not get the speed they’re paying for, or reduce their plan to 25/5, further reducing NBNs revenue.

      Supporting FTTN is much much harder to achieve as with FTTP I can log into the NBN portal and see that the customer modem is connected into the UNI-D port and the modem mac address, then I can confirm that mac is received at the NBN NNI and then follow through our network to see what’s going wrong.

      FTTN I can only see the service is in sync and I have to ask the customer to tell me the mac address of their modem, which generally extends the time they’re internet is offline.

      FTTN seems to be making an oversized representation of faults we’ve been getting this year. Compared to the tens of thousands of FTTP and Wireless customers FTTN seems to be coming in a a higher % rate of that customer base.

      • Ronin8317MEMBER

        I agree that FTTN does not work : the cost of copper maintenance will make it even more expensive than FTTP, and the FTTN rollout is even slower than the projected FTTP. However, FTTP under Quigley was a disaster as well. There are many sites where FTTP was rolled out, but the connection to the premise is not made until much later. It is really stupid to see one block on a street have NBN, but the next block on the same street cannot get it for at least 5 more years. The choice to use a backup battery unit is expensive and unnecessary (it is now optional), and the cost projection is that each household will pay $140 a month when it is fully rolled out!!

      • JunkyardMEMBER

        You are correct, the fault rate on FTTN services is through the roof. Additionally the fault rate on standard PSTN and ADSL services in a FTTN transition area are also extremely elevated.

        Around 10% of new FTTN services do not work on cutover. Ten percent!

        The main reason is jumpering issues at the pillar, mislabeled O pairs and inexperienced contractors. In an area transitioning to FTTN there are techs in the pillars all the time and as everyone in the industry knows, Telstra’s cable records are a complete dogs breakfast.

        That fault rate should settle down after a couple years when an area has completely transitioned to FTTN.

        The end customer experience is generally pretty bad for FTTN activation, and supporting it is a nightmare. Even if the cutover goes well their existing modem/router likely wont work as it wont support G.993.5 – so many end users don’t find out they need new hardware until after cutover when their old PSTN DSL will have stopped working.

        This is just the end user impacting stuff, and is just the tip of the iceberg for FTTN – in time it will come to be regarded as one of the dumbest mistakes ever. But whatever, you can’t tell people in this country.

      • Good information sydboy007. I just have one question. Where are these bloody nodes? I drive around the place expecting to see a grey box on a corner somewhere looking like the old grey PMG torpedos and yet I have never seen one. Where do they actually locate these nodes?

      • sydboy007MEMBER

        Malcolm, if there’s spae they’ll be next to the greay torpedo, but often there’s no space and they can be up to 200M away.

        you wont see any unless you’re in area where FTTN is being currently rolled out. Generally they’re greena dn prob the size of a medium size fridge – bit wider but shorter.

  3. Career politicians and their big business/MSM puppeteers – screwing the country and the world one decision at a time.

  4. When the HFC cable was attached to my house I thought great I’ll finally have better performance than ADSL. At the same time, it did feel very strange having ‘new’ but really decades old, and inferior, technology installed.

    • And you’ll only have it until there are a lot of subscribers trying to access it at peak times. If your main use is at peak times you may see no little benefit unless you had particularly poor ADSL.

      • Mining BoganMEMBER

        There was a wireless report on a NSW country town recently where the new cumpulsory NBN customers had slower speeds than their old ADSL.

        Straya. Winning.

    • 22ish million people on a Continent the size of America…. that’s why its so urbanized…

      Disheveled Marsupial… so how long have you been working in civil construction LD…

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        The continent might be the size of Africa, but it’s almost entirely empty.

        80% of the population live in what ? About ten cities ?

        Australia is a very urbanised society.

      • drsmithy….

        The fact that Australia is extremely urbanized and ranks lower than some other countries wrt internet speeds does not change the civil engineering complications, its as bad as cookie cutter economics…

        One might as well complain about the infrastructural complexities of maze like roads – rail due to topographical realities, due too the day of horses, as compared to an American grid system [alphabetical vs numerical]. That’s not to mention the size of a market compared to its land mass and other challenges…

        Disheveled Marsupial… lmmao… Monaco is a tax haven – uber wealthy hang out with close proximity to a huge market where Gates frictionless – internet of things – brings in the big bucks…. then you get to serve them….

      • Skip doesn’t like my evidence, so he dismisses it out of hand and starts babbling about civil engineering.

      • LD…

        I don’t agree with your singular data point which then is comported to all things right or wrong… and again what acumen do you have in the actual build out of such projects.

        Disheveled Marsupial…. “like” has nothing to do with it… coming from someone with absolutely zero experience in civil project engineering that’s absurd if not worse some just ideological preference, BTW you can check out my work at Brisbane airport… all that white steel… what a cluster fook that was…

      • 93% of Australians live in the 5 largest cities. I’d say that’s pretty urbanised.

        With regards to the civil engineering of it… Yes, it’s a challenge deploying the network but not because of the size of the continent, that doesn’t factor into deployment of an urban fibre optic network at all. Most of the long links inter-city are already there from when carriers started switching to fibre in the 90s for the points of interconnect.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        The fact that Australia is extremely urbanized and ranks lower than some other countries wrt internet speeds does not change the civil engineering complications, its as bad as cookie cutter economics…

        What’s unique about civil engineering in Australia compared to all the countries with better telecoms infrastructure ?

        The argument the size of Australia is an excuse for the NBN debacle is laughable when almost everyone lives in a handful of cities. If the vast majority of people had great broadband connectivity and only the few that lived out in the bush did not, you’d have a point. But people living in new housing developments, or near the middle of capital cities, struggle to get double-digit download speeds.

      • drsmithy….

        Every region has different issues with engineering, geo, topography, climatic, pop distribution, environmental factors, which are known knowns wrt to the scale of such projects… let alone the sourcing and nesting of materials over such a long and protracted project. Then you get hit with unknowns like lead, asbestos, VOC, supply or labour complications due to subcontracting and to top it all off how much corruption is involved from top to bottom….

        Disheveled Marsupial…. LD is well known for cherry picking just to give Oz a serve because of the chip on shoulder complex… whilst completely ignoring the dramas in the US…. heaps of internet dramas there with suppliers…. but internet speed…. sigh…

    • @ha ha Hum
      You are so full of B$hit about the USA ! A simple Google search shows :
      “In the United States, specifically, Akamai noted that 80 percent of Internet users had an average connection speed faster than 4 Mbps. Bump up to 10 Mbps, and the percent drops nearly to half (46 percent). Only one-fourth of the users Akamai analyzed had Internet speeds that were faster than 15 Mbps.Dec 18, 2015”

      Further info shows that the USA is not even in the top 10 Countries world wide. A land of dummies who think they rule the Planet.

      • Ha ha ha! Still has an average sped 50% higher than Oz, and 8 percentage points more of the population have more than 4 megabit.

        Face it Mr Oz rools, Australia is doing poorly on this metric. Your Australiana exceptionalism is showing again… ha ha ha!

        Edit: and furthermore, I didn’t mention the USA at all. You did. Inferiority complex… Ha ha ha ha ha!

    • Says it all indeed.

      A backwater service economy island in the arse end of the Pacific comparing IP’s around BBQ’s. Capital Gains forever…

  5. A watered down inferior NBN should help facilitate the Libs “innovation” agenda….lolza. The Libs by their very nature and history are a bunch of backward looking Luddites. They have been dragged kicking and screaming into the future by the Labor party at each and every significant juncture in our nations and indeed the worlds history since Federation.

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      The NBN will endanger Uncle Rupert’s pay TV business, which is why it must be slowed down.

  6. The Mixed Technology Model NBN will be good for job creation spruiked by the Libs. The reliability of mixed fibre/copper FTTN network will inevitably be much lower than FTTH and therefore will require more maintenance jobs. Nodes will need power for running electronic equipment and active cooling. They will also need battery power backup. If you talk to people from Telstra network ops they will tell you that damage due to overheating, aircon maintenance, air filter cleaning, battery maintenance is a big headache. In areas of high humidity they also have corrosion problems that destroys expensive circuitry. In addition to this there will be occasional cases of cars mowing node cabinets. Telstra has high hopes that they will pick up a fair bit of that maintenance work.

  7. Leaving to one side the issue of replacing the old copper and HFC networks with FTTN or FTTH the worst bit was that for many years brand new greenfield housing / apartments were still being hooked up with COPPER!.


    Friends in a new estate could not get anything for several years, then top dollar ADSL and now finally the blue fibre is creeping across the estate.

    The universal service obligation of Telstra should have been switched from copper to fibre for new estates from the very start of the process.

    Unfortunately, Telstra (and the LNP) were being particularly dickish at the time and that generated the Conroy/Rudd by-pass Telstra completely concept.

    Even now I am not sure that all new housing and apartments are getting FTTH.

    Does anybody know if at least they are all getting FTTH?

  8. I’ve taught my 4yo daughter to rant about Malcolm Turnbull every time her YouTube cartoons are buffering. Pretty sure she has no idea what fibre to the node, copper to the premises means, but she does her best to say it and not like it.

    Brainwashing isn’t wrong if it’s right :-p

    • Not sure the connection between the two, but if it relates to political advertising on youtube it’s another positive for signing up toa VPN service! No pollies getting in your face.

    • I’ll be trying to get one of my good friends on it. She lives in the NR area in NSW – and whilst NBN touts that it’s covered by wireless… no dice: You can’t see the antenna, you can’t get NBN. See that big mountain at the back over there? Yah – Behind that, and through some 3-4km of woods is the antenna. Good luck with that!

      We hoped that FTTP would be deployed, but no such luck: The same wonderful RIM-addled ADSL remains as an alternative to the elusive wireless NBN. (We call it No Bloody Network for that very reason)

      So – sattelite it is. Will make the application in the next week. Let’s see how that gets rejected.

  9. kiwikarynMEMBER

    In New Zealand they are already working on upgrading the national FTTP service to a Gigabit service (currently 100 Mbps in the norm).

  10. How about a Fibre to the streetlight network.

    There are about 4 houses per streetlight and if you put a WiFi antenna on each street light, 4 houses can connect to it at great speed.

    Or you could have a fibre to the fence network – build the NBN much quicker. 2 houses cannot share a fibre strand using WiFi?

    • Don’t you bloody well start with that!
      Have you ever had to deal with WiFi access points in such a number?! I can tell you straight up it’s stuff your worst nightmares are made of!

      So instead of having weather protected and reliable indoors equipment – you have exposed to weather outdoors equipment, in numbers which are the very definition of madness. And then you have to power it and cool it.

      Once you brought the fibre to the fence – what’s the difference between terminating it on the wall or on the fence?! Just! Do! It!

      • FTTSL:

        Street lights are powered. The Samsung s7 is waterproof. So are Powerwalls and inverters.


        Which wall? House 1 or house 2?

        So you just need to connect 1 house and the other house can piggyback off the connection of the other house using WiFi. Given how close together houses are these days.