Internet Australia Calls For NBN Rethink

Lobby group Internet Australia is calling for a rethink and urging the Government and the Opposition to "put politics aside and agree on a bipartisan NBN strategy".

This comes with the availability of new, lower cost, optical fibre used in FTTdp trials and survey results that show 80 per cent of Internet Australia members are dissatisfied with the current mixed-technology method (MTM).

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According to Internet Australia, there is currently a rising level of debate about the NBN, partly due to the impending election, which follows ongoing claims of slowed deployments, installation problems and switchover issues.

"In 2007 a government was elected that undertook to build a modern broadband network delivering cable all the way to more than 90 per cent of the nations premises," Internet Australia CEO Laurie Patton observed, making the call for a bipartisan NBN rethink. "A subsequent government adopted a different strategy, using existing copper phone lines, in the expectation that this would deliver the network to more homes sooner and at less expense upfront."

"Putting aside the relative merits of each strategy, and the success or otherwise of their respective implementations, time has provided the opportunity for a reassessment of how we build the most appropriate broadband network fit for the 21st Century. New technology has provided a viable alternative to the copper-based fibre to the node (FTTN) model.”

A recent hearing of the Senate NBN Select Committee was shown so-called "skinny fibre" that NBN is now using. This technology was not available when the decision was made to adopt FTTN, which underpins the MTM.

As predicted by qualified observers, the overall costs of construction have come down over time as NBN has refined its operating practices and achieved economies of scale, irrespective of the technology chosen. "This will likely be the case for the lifetime of this project," predicts Internet Australia.

"At the same time as we've seen the technology change, Internet speeds delivered to consumers in other countries have been steadily rising and causing Australia to fall behind quite dramatically", Mr Patton noted. "We have slipped to 60th on global rankings from 30th just a few years ago, according to the widely-quoted 'State of the Internet' report from content delivery network Akamai. This slide relative to our peers will continue even as the NBN is being built so long as we rely on an ageing copper network".

Internet Australia says it is keen to see FTTN abandoned in favour of "fibre to the driveway" (technically known as fibre to the distribution point, or FTTdp). This would see fibre cabling run all the way to a point at or near the boundary to homes and commercial buildings.

From there, existing copper could, if necessary, still be used in the short-term. Alternatively, copper wires could be replaced, at any time now or in the future, with fibre into the building. "Such an approach would provide a future-proofed network and avoid the need for a costly re-build in 10 to 15 years' time when copper is simply no longer fit-for-purpose," Internet Australia states.

"Both the Government and the Opposition have highlighted the need for Australia to become an innovation nation. To do this will require high speed Internet connectivity on par with countries in our region also seeking to be innovation hubs," Mr Patton points out. "One of our biggest regional competitors, Singapore, already provides consumers with Internet access at speeds 100 times faster than ours. New Zealand is in front of us in a number of rankings and is ahead in its overall broadband rollout."

"Now some commentators will say that it is easier to build a broadband network in smaller territories like Singapore and New Zealand. However, we didn't use this as an excuse not to build roads and railways across the country, or to not provide telephones to people living in regional and remote areas".


    I like pie. Who is with me?

      WHat kind of pie?

        Warm apple pie...

          But how do you like your pie to be delivered?

          Do you prefer PTTD (Pie to the Door) or PTTF (Pie to the Face) ?

          New technology has recently been developed promising PTTM (Pie to the Mouth) which is generally cheaper and delivers pie with less mess and less stress than PTTF or PTTD.

          Some people think we don't need pie, or that there was nothing wrong with going to the shops and picking up a pie when needed. Personally I think those people are crazy.

            ...I think this might just be the greatest comment I've seen in a long time. Kudos to you, good sir. You forever have a piece of my heart.

      Pie is goooooood

    As long as any revisions end up investing in our future.

    Changing again? you have not even done the method in the first place.
    I cant get much of my work done as the bandwidth is too slim, streaming up/down video is impossible at the moment. with the advent of VR, 4 and 8k video streaming gonna need one hell of a pipe... no wonder we are 80th.... soon enough 16k video will come into place and I can only imagine.... let alone at peak times

    Wireless data costs by the fascist telstra need looking at as well $150 for 5GB of data is off the planet.

    Just roll out FTTdp, hell I'd pay the extra to get fibre to the house at that point. It's the best mix and probably cheapest thus far.

    That said, new estates should be going FTTP just because they have the ability to install all new infrastructure from the start.

      This. A million times this.

      Anyone with even a shred of intelligence or with any knowledge of the Internet or telecommunications involved in the FTTN decision in the first place would readily accept that FTTdp is a far superior solution to FTTN. If they don't then they're just playing politics and are sacrificing Australia's future for the sake of not losing face and thus should not have any say in the matter.

      FTTdp is essentially superior to FTTN in every way.
      * It uses existing distribution points rather than requiring the installation, power and maintenance of new nodes.
      * It reduces reliance on the aging copper network which will only need replacing and/or constant maintenance.
      * It also avoids the biggest problem of FTTP: replacing the lead in from the distribution point to the premises themselves.

      Yes, FTTP is going to be superior - and ultimately we'll want to move towards that as a nation, but sticking to FTTN when FTTdp is available for equal or potentially less cost is nothing short of idiocy.

    Its hard to be positive about the billions being spent when the only credible opinions on its direction has been nothing short of scathing. You dont even need to work in the field to understand the amount of short cuts the government has taken to not appear like a high taxing government. Turnbulls talk up about his support of innovation will severly be marred by the our stupid mix of last gen tech, but lets not pretend he doesnt know or believe that.

    Blocking Telstra from doing this over a decade ago was a real clever move....

    Also I couldn't help but notice from studying the rollout map that they are avoiding building in blocs where there are schools. I'm not sure what that means but it's 'something'...

      Telstra can't even look after small pockets of HFC, not to mention the state of their copper network... I don't think they'd have done it any justice.

      I've tried a bunch of times to get them to replace the Coax line into my house because it's damaged; they've yet to send the correct technician, with the correct equipment - they have however managed to send the wrong tech out every time and they've never had the equipment to get up high enough to do the job anyway.

    As I understand it, FTTdp is just glorified FTTN that will inevitably require replacing the last stretch of copper sometime later. It's just another compromise. I still think FTTP is the way to go—it's costlier, but it's better long term option.

      The analogy is close, but it's still superior. You don't need to deploy new nodes because you're just using the existing distribution point (which is normally pretty damn close to the premises).

      For FTTP you have to replace the copper from that distribution point to your house (the lead-in), but for older/existing houses this can actually be the most difficult/time consuming part of the process because those conduits are often poorly maintained, quite small, difficult to access, etc.

      FTTdp can still get you VSDL2-like speeds provided your lead-in wiring isn't awful.

        Well, since Telstra has been neglecting the copper infrastructure for the last 15 years pretty much everyone has awful lead in wiring.

        FTTN is the only way to go because everything else is just adding extra cost since you'll end up having to go to FTTN in the end anyway.

          Don't you see though? this is exactly why we need AT LEAST FTTdp and if the copper to the premises is fucked then people have the ability to pay for the small amount of fiber at the end. with FTTN it's all copper we have ZERO options. Ie. for people that want better speed they will pay extra for the fiber and people who just surf the web and do online banking ,etc will probably be happy to stay with copper. Honestly we want FTTP but the political shit storm that this has become, neither party is going to admit they were wrong....

          I don't think you understand just how much higher the cost is for lead-in, not only in terms of money but also time.

          Check any of the previous gizmodo posts for more detail on my explanations on my real, industry experience with this over the last decade, but the take-away point is this: lead-in is a fuckfest.

          Yes, FTTP is ideal, but if you're not going to do it, then FTTdp is the absolute bare minimum.

          As an analogy, FTTN is like baking half a cake and not putting any icing on it. FTTdp is like baking a whole cake with some choc-chips thrown in for good measure, and leaving off the icing. FTTP is like getting the full choc chip cake and adding a layer of icing... which you can't do without scheduling three people to watch you and sign off on your work, having to go back to the drawing board multiple times if they don't like any part of it, using materials which also happens to cost around fifteen times as much as the base cake.

          It's difficult to overstate just how much of a clusterfuck lead-in can be. Whereas shifting from FTTN to FTTdp is not much more expensive and remains within the control of the providers. It's a very clear difference. You could very likely connect an entire street of houses to FTTdp in the time it could take and for the same cost as to connect one via FTTP. Whereas there is a HUGE difference in performance between FTTN and FTTdp with very little additional cost, so it seems like a no-brainer.

    Such a pity Australia's politicians are forever stuck in 1979.

    None of them actually understand the internet or how it works because none of them have the necessary qualifications. Like having a Law degree and holding the position of communications minister.

    To me that's like someone applying to be a Doctor at a hospital but having a degree im Law. That would be insane, yet its how our politicians operate. Clueless idiots who hold major positions of power when they have no relevant qualifications for the job. Hence they just play politics like a childs game and nothing ever gets done.

    We need to take lessons from places like Switzerland where the people actually decide what happens. Revamp the system and create true democracy. This nation gives me a bloody headache with the constant changing of PMs and never ending bitch fests where each side just does the opposite of each other regardless of practility. Drives me nuts. I reduse to vote due to this piss poor illusion of democracy.

    Hmm Mickey Mouse vs Minnie Mouse?

      but but... "Malcom Turnbull basically invented the internet is Australia"...........fuuuuuu >

    lol that Australia still thinks the NBN is a thing.
    Third world internet will always need a poster child so why not keep it Australia?

    When the LNP got into power 3 years ago and started MTM, everyone said it would be outdated by the time it was finished... Well the project isn't even close to finished and is completely out of date.

    The government needs to reclassify the NBN as vital INFRASTRUCTURE. The government seriously wants to spend more on a high speed train that few people will actually use rather then a project that every man woman child business and government body would use. Per capita the NBN is the most affordable infrastructure the Australian government can deliver to every voter, cheap high speed internet, but no... they want a bullet train and more submarines and military jets that dont actually work.

    Lobby group Internet Australia is calling for a rethink and urging the Government and the Opposition to “put politics aside and agree on a bipartisan NBN strategy”.

    The day any of those self-interested pricks masquerading as our 'leaders' (in the most grotesquely insulting use of the word I've ever heard) can put politics aside is the day I start buying lottery tickets.

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