Coalition pushes patch-up job of NBN it trashed


The company responsible for the National Broadband Network (NBN) announced on Tuesday it was spending AU$700 million to create 240 “business fibre zones” that will cover 700,000 business premises.

Being part of a zone will allow businesses to get a full fibre Enterprise Ethernet connection, as well as reduced rates and connection fees.

NBN added that when it connects a business within a zone to fibre, it will not charge the business for the act, and if the business signs a 3-year deal, NBN will not charge the internet service provider.

“Enterprise Ethernet is NBN Co’s fastest symmetrical wholesale product and premium-grade business offering. It has options for prioritised traffic, high capacity, and symmetrical upload and download wholesale speeds from 10Mbps to close to 1Gbps, as well as enhanced 24/7 support through the business NBN operations centre with a dedicated team located in Australia,” the company said in a statement.

Of the 240 zones to be created, 85 will be regional centres, while another 14 will be allocated “specifically to underpin existing health precincts”.

An initial 130 zones were released on Tuesday, with 61 in the regional centres and 11 in health precincts.

“Having helped level the playing field for residential internet services with the rollout of the NBN network, we are now turning our attention to accessibility for our premium-grade business services, helping businesses in regional areas access the benefits of competition, enhanced broadband support services, and better wholesale NBN prices for the digital services they need to succeed,” NBN CEO Stephen Rue said.

“For the first time, any business in an NBN business fibre zone can get the same premium-grade services and the same wholesale prices as those in the centre of our biggest cities.”

The company has also set aside AU$50 million to “work with local councils and state and territory governments” across three years to extend its business-service footprint outside the designated zones.

Within NSW metro, the initial fibre zones will be in Botany, Gosford, Lake Haven — Wyong, Lane Cove, Mosman, Neutral Bay, Parramatta, Randwick, Marrickville, Double Bay — Rose Bay, and an amorphous Central Coast zone.

In regional NSW, the zones will be created in Albury / Lavington, Armidale, Ballina, Batemans Bay, Bathurst, Charlestown, Coffs Harbour, Corrimal — Austinmer, Dubbo, Goulburn, Lismore, Maitland, Mudgee, Newcastle CBD, Nowra, Orange, Port Kembla — Warrawong, Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Taree, Wagga Wagga, Wollongong, and Shoalhaven.

For Victorian metro, the zones are Berwick South, Box Hill, Clayton, Collingwood, Dandenong, Mornington, Springvale — Noble Park, Burwood, Chadstone — Oakleigh, Caulfield — Carnegie, St Kilda — Elsternwick, Blackburn — Mitcham, and Richmond — Hawthorn.

Elsewhere in Victoria, the zones are Ararat, Ballarat, Bendigo, Echuca, Geelong, Horsham, Mildura, Shepparton, Wangaratta, Warrnambool, Wodonga, and Morwell — Traralgon.

Around Brisbane, the zones are in Annerley, Archerfield, Coorparoo, Darra – Richlands, Eagle Farm, Mount Gravatt, Stafford — Alderley, Tingalpa, Morningside — Lytton, and Indooroopilly — Toowong.

For the rest of Queensland, Bundaberg, Caloundra, Gladstone, Gympie, Mackay, Maroochydore, Maryborough, Rockhampton, Southport, Toowoomba, Townsville area, Wurtulla — Birtinya, and Cairns — Port Douglas will have fibre zones.

Tasmania will have zones in Burnie, Devonport, Hobart, and Launceston.

Over in Perth, the zones are Balcatta, Bassendean, Canning Vale — Riverton, Fremantle, Henderson, Malaga, Mandurah, Midland — Guildford, O’Connor — Murdoch, Osborne Park Industrial, Rockingham, Subiaco — Nedlands — Shenton Park, Wangara, South Perth, Bibra Lake — Coogee, Applecross — Melville, and Belmont — Cannington.

For the rest of WA, there will be four zones across Albany, Bunbury, Busselton, and Geraldton.

While in Adelaide, the zones will be Edinburgh, Hawthorn — Malvern, Hindmarsh, Lonsdale, Melrose Park, Mount Barker, Norwood, Port Adelaide — Gepps Cross, Prospect area, Richmond, Toorak Gardens, Unley — Parkside, Woodville Park, and Willunga.

Outside of South Australian metro area, Mount Gambier is the sole business fibre zone.

Canberra gets zones in Belconnen, Canberra CBD, Deakin, and Phillip, while NBN has allocated a zone called Queanbeyan – Hume to an area dubbed “ACT regional”.

The Northern Territory gets three zones in Darwin, Palmerston, and Casuarina.

When the zones scheme is completed, it is expected 90% of businesses within the NBN footprint will be able to have a fibre connection.

“This initiative will create more jobs as we combat the impact of COVID-19 on our economy and employment across our country. The construction of the business fibre zones will deliver up to 6,000 new jobs by 2021-22, including more engineers, project managers, and construction crew,” Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said.

“It will also boost the productivity of businesses within each of the 240 business fibre zones.”

As for Labor, Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland criticised the decision.

“After spending AU$51 billion on a second-rate network, and a decade critising Labor, it turns out fibre was better all along,” Rowland said.

“Today confirms the Liberals don’t have a clue when it comes to technology or economics. Their only motivation is the politics of the moment and Australians have lost out.”

Honestly, pretty much the only thing that the Coalition has gotten right is China. More at Domain:

Two million Australian households will be able to demand fibre-to-the-home internet by 2023 as part of a $3.5 billion upgrade of the National Broadband Network in residential streets to begin within months.

The Morrison government says the major infrastructure investment will create as many as 25,000 jobs over the next two years as the existing fibre-to-the-node rollout is extended along streets across Australia.

The upgrade, which NBN Co will finance through borrowing from private debt markets, will give a further six million homes, or 75 per cent of premises along the fixed-line network, access to broadband speeds of up to one gigabit per second by 2023.

Don’t get me wrong. This is a good idea. Productivity-enhancing infrastructure investment, off balance sheet, and execllent job creation bang for the buck.

But, you know, do it once and do it right the first time.

David Llewellyn-Smith


  1. You can already buy ethernet services in these areas from Telstra, Optus, TPG, etc. etc. The pricing and service is competitive.
    NBN is just over-building existing infrastructure now.

    • Easy to fix, the government will just add a tax to the existing ethernet services to make NBN competitive.

      From Jan 1 2021 non-NBN consumers will be paying $7.90 a month NBN tax on their bill.

    • Can you compare these Ethernet based services (presumably over fibre or dark fibre?) price wise to what NBN charges for those who got early FTTH?

  2. happy valleyMEMBER

    “Honestly, pretty much the only thing that the Coalition has right is China.”

    It’s hard to think of a more incompetent, morally bankrupt and corrupt series of governments than the LNP ones we have had since 2013?

  3. The most predictable outcome ever. FTTN was always obsolete, what an act of infrastructure vandalism by Abbott and Turnbull. Scum.

    • darklydrawlMEMBER

      The NBN is rubbish. Here is their own quote:

      “The announcement comes as the rollout of the NBN hits 99 per cent completion, with 18 per cent of premises already able to access ultra fast speeds through fibre-to-the-home connections or HFC.”

      So 99% done and only 18% can access reasonable speeds. Keep in mind what they call ‘ultra fast speeds’ (50 mbps) is normal /slow in many countries. ‘Ultra fast’ is marking fluff. I have been getting double those speeds on cable (for less $) for years now.

      But wait!! Turns out this sh!tshow was planned all along. What a pack of liars and cheats.

      “”If a customer doesn’t ask for it, we won’t roll the fibre to your home. If the customer demonstrates that he or she has got the demand, then we will roll the fibre [out],” Mr Fletcher said.

      “This is totally consistent with the approach we’ve followed for seven years, which is being responsive to demand and tailoring the rollout to demand.””

      • The NBN is not rubbish.

        For those in regional areas, moving from a $60/M Telstra HSDPA service with an 8GB cap to a $75/M Telstra 500GB cap on LTE is incomporable. And that doesn’t include those in Telstra/Optus blackspots who now have infilled cover via NBN LTE towers.

        For metro dwellers, sure, this has been a debacle.

        Turnbull and Abbott have a lot to answer for.

        • darklydrawlMEMBER

          Good point Swampy. I agree for the regional areas it has likely been a great improvement. My first world whinge is more how they screwed the pooch in the metro areas for most people. I also object to being told waffle like “Sign up to our Super Dupa ™ fast connection with extra zippy speed option, or you can try our “Monster MEGA speed plan for extra boost””. WTAF is that about? Do they think we are 4 year olds? Naturally each ISP has a different underlying speed as to what exactly “Superfast” is. Also internet speeds are a bit like your car’s speedo. Just because your Corolla has 240 km/h max on the dial doesn’t mean you will be cruising day in and out at the speed. Meh!

        • For metro dwellers, sure, this has been a debacle.

          I’d be willing to bet a lot of metro dwellers are sh!tloads better off as well. In our previous house, we went from 15Mb/s-on-a-good-day DSL to 100/20 FTTN/DSL. Current house went from 100/5 Telstra Cable to 100/40 FTTN/HFC.

          The improvements in second- and third-tier cities are probably similarly significant as well, outside the CBDs where businesses make good infrastructure profitable.

        • darklydrawlMEMBER

          yes, that. And that the other 82% cannot easily or cheaply get faster speeds without further costs / mods.

          • The key number is how much of it is FTTC.
            If it all goes smoothly, it’s 2hrs work for one guy to upgrade one house to fibre with parts one person can hold comfortably.

          • Most of the melbourne metro are failed HFC areas, i live in one and still have telstra HFC since the NBN cut over gets moved back every 3 months

    • Arthur Schopenhauer

      Our connection slows to Dial up speeds at mid morning Zoom meeting time. Unbelievable.

      We had an Optus and Telstra fiber cable running past the house. They have both been turned off, and we have been moved to NBN fiber running under the footpath.
      The kicker was, our fiber to the home was replaced with copper from the curb. No upgrades were possible.


  4. I would love to see the work supporting these “business fibre zones” as some of them look like a sneaky way to get fibre into affluent suburbs rather than support business. Yes, this is rather cynical, but hell, I don’t trust Scummo and his legion of parasites as far as I could throw them.

  5. Some of the blame is definitely with Labor here. For the price of the NBN we could have just renationalised Telstra, we would have had a profitable company in our hands from day one, and instructed them to rollout fiber nationwide. It would have been quicker and cheaper since they already had all the technical know-how.

    • darklydrawlMEMBER

      The question I have is why the hell did we sell Telcom to start with? Seems crazy to have to buy back something we already paid for and owned.

    • Could have followed the NZ model – split the company into two, wholesale and retail. List both (Chorus and Spark). Make the wholesale provider compete for FTTP government funding. It worked for NZ . Current retail plans are now at 1 Gbps and 4 Gbps speeds.

  6. Yeah it’s been badly botched but credit where it’s due, at least they’re fixing it now. This is a rare example of infrastructure that actually has a chance of delivering a productivity return. Big job generator too. MB should be supporting this, even though it destroys their “infrastructure cliff” narrative. We need more of this.

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      Fixing a little bit of it. Also I’d like them to admit how much taxpayer money they’ve wasted instead of telling the lie that it was always there if we wanted it but we just didn’t ask. That nice Michael West fellow *waves* estimated $90b gone on installing dodgy product and shareholder loss. No doubt they’ll stuff this fix up too.

      The LNP need to admit their incompetence before they get a pass.

  7. Some countries already moved to 10Gb/s few years ago while we are still talking about creating exclusive areas (privileged) that will offer 10Gb if lucky but most likely will be below that. And I can guarantee you prices won’t be competitive on international stage.
    The 10Gb services here will cost 7 arms and 24 legs that’s the Australian way. Most innovative businesses left the country. Thos couple of of companies that are still here is because of the Indian slaves they can exploit.

        • No. Its usually free, although some ISPs may charge a connection fee ($100 or so) if you are not signing up to a fixed term contract. The Govt funded the fibre rollout and house connection via wholesale providers, ISPs are responsible for retail customer connections.

  8. Tasmania will have zones in Burnie, Devonport, Hobart, and Launceston…. because those areas already have FTTH

  9. Thirty years of Abbott and Turnbulls Prime Ministerial pension should cover it.Second thoughts, the whole Cabinet at the time and their assets

    • How big is the building, how far is the device from the router, is it a mobile or fixed device?

      If bigish ie suburban house:
      If fixed: Ethernet over Power.
      If wireless: wifi extender OR 2nd router + Ethernet over power

      If small ie apartment: you’re probably sharing the same channel as 50 others. Preference 5ghz over 2.4 and change channels to the least occupied band (router settings) various wifi analyser programs are on mobile app stores.

  10. LNP luddites will be having conniptions over this decision.

    They actually have a policy that brings part of Australia into last decade.

    This sort of things is far too contemporary for them.

    Based on their energy policy I was more expecting them to roll out fax machines across the country as a part of their stimulus measures to get the country faxing again.

  11. happy valleyMEMBER

    That lightweight minister (not sure the LNP have any “heavyweights” other than Creepy Pete?) Paul Fletcher has been on the box this morning sprouting what a magnificent job the LNP have done on the NBN – but, but Malcolm promised us as Comms Minister under Abbottolypse in 2013 that their “hotch potch” NBN would be delivered sooner and cheaper and work better? The contractor that came to install our NBN a couple of weeks ago basically told me that this upgrade was already in the works when I asked him whether they would all soon be out of a job.

  12. How much has this current Foxtel coax and Telstra copper to the home cost us?

    I’ve read numbers between $51 Bn and $65 Bn

    How much did onion muncher and Turncoat tell us it was going to cost? $20 to $25Bn

    How much was the original fibre to the home NBN going to cost?
    About $40 Bn.

    We’ve spent an excess of $11 to $25 Bn for slow unreliable copper NBN, compared with doing it right the first time with fibre.

    Now add on the additional costs to roll out fibre to the home, on top of the original 51 to 65 Bn, and thank Murdoch, Turncoat, Ratbot, and Telstra for reaming us.

    New Zealand did it right, we did it wrong to appease kleptocratic profitocracy.

  13. Ever since 1996 every government in power has eroded Australian society. A complete and utter cluster fuck by both parties.

    I draw the line at 1996 because I am 34 yrs old and that’s all I can remember as far back from.

    • It goes back to the adoption of NeoLiberalism by both Australian major parties.
      Fraser govt. began it , Hawke and Keating perfeced it.

  14. Hanno Son of Bomilcar

    why the hell is everyone so obsessed with the NBN? like what do you guys need super fast internet for so much anyway? what do you do online all day that makes any difference to whatever ADSL could do just fine 10 years ago?

    this has gotta be one of the most boring political issues of all time

    • Ok boomer.

      I take it you haven’t seen multiple clients try and log on to their virtual desktops over ADSL.

      Why is everyone so obsessed with cars? Like why do you guys need to go faster than 30kph on horseback anyway?

      • Hanno Son of Bomilcar


        cars are a terrible scourge and the widespread adoption of private automobile ownership was a gargantuan collective social mistake

    • LOL. My fibre ISP had connectivity issues one time and my speed was slowed to 3 Mbps. The Internet doesn’t work at that speed anymore, most of the Web pages wouldn’t download before getting timeout errors.
      TV/Netflix is now 4k, and 8k is on its way. Average number of connected devices in a home is now 11. Now we have people working from home and videoconferencing with 20 odd people.

    • Foxtel coax cable being swapped in at the last minute instead of fibre was Abbott and Turncoat protecting Murdoch’s financial interests ahead of the voting public.

      Malcolm-in-the-Muddle’s mashed up NBN and Oniony Abbot’s three word “better faster cheaper” propaganda pitch were all about Foxtel and Telstra winning at the Game of Mates