One of the biggest knocks against the Coalition’s National Broadband Network (NBN) is that it in many neighbourhoods, it chose to stick with the old copper network instead of fibre optic networks.
While this decision saved money in the short-term, it also has limited the NBN’s speeds, as well as reduced its reliability.
Strangely, the NBN continues to roll-out copper-based broadband connections, instead of upgrading new areas to fibre:
As of March 3, a total of 49,620 kilometres of copper had been bought for use in the NBN’s footprint, NBN Co told The New Daily.
The cost of the copper is “commercial in confidence”, an NBN Co spokesperson said, but based on figures provided to the Senate in 2017 could now exceed half a billion dollars.
Nearly 7000 kilometres of new copper cabling was purchased in the six months to March alone (up from 42,990 kilometres in October), with the $51 billion NBN rollout due to be completed by the end of the June…
“The vast majority of copper we purchase today is for use in our FTTC network,” the NBN Co spokesperson said.
Veteran communications analyst, Paul Budde, has slammed the rollout of copper as “a waste of money and a waste of time”:
“If you have fibre all the way to the kerb, why on Earth wouldn’t you go for the last bits of fibre to the house?’’…
“If you want to future proof the network … then why not put fibre in? You have to dig up the ground, that’s the biggest cost whether [you’re installing] copper or fibre”…
If you put fibre in, you are future proof. And if you put copper in, then it’s quite possible that in five or 10 years you have to dig it up again and put fibre in.’’
Associate professor in network engineering at RMIT university, Mark Gregory, agrees that the copper rollout is ridulous:
“Copper-based technologies are already effectively obsolete’’…
“If they’re doing lead-in cables for FTTC, they should just simply be doing FTTP. The cost would be the same.”
It’s hard to disagree. While there was a case for utilising existing copper networks as a cost saving measure (i.e. to avoid digging up the ground), there is no justification with respect to greenfield areas where the ground needs to be dug up anyway. Why not just install fibre and future-proof the NBN?
The whole NBN project has become a farce.