Fibre To The Curb Costs Just As Much As Full Fibre, Former NBN Chief Says

Fibre To The Curb Costs Just As Much As Full Fibre, Former NBN Chief Says
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One of the former bosses behind the original build of the National Broadband Network has said that if the government-owned company is going to upgrade from the current fibre to the node tech to a more future-proof fibre to the curb, it may as well go all the way and connect fibre to everyone’s homes — without spending significantly more money.

Mike Quigley, the former chief executive of NBN Co has told iTWire that in his “considered opinion”, fibre to the distribution point — sometimes known as FttDP or fibre to the curb (FttC) — would “cost about the same” as a full fibre build-out. iTWire also says that Melbourne Uni academic Rod Tucker, who has published many pieces on the NBN, holds the same opinion.

Advocacy group Internet Australia’s outspoken head Laurie Patton has been pushing for fibre to the distribution point as superior to fibre to the node, but Quigley says that NBN’s quoted costs of $4400 per fibre to the premises install are outdated — and that if it tried, it could bring costs down. Talking to iTWire, the former NBN Co CEO said that Chorus — one of the companies behind New Zealand’s fibre roll-out — brought costs down by 44 per cent over a few years.

There’s also a distinction being made by academic Mark Gregory at RMIT, who says that the common definition of FttDP sees full fibre cable rolled effectively to the driveway of each home, but FttC is usually rolled to within 300 to 400 metres from each home — a significant improvement over FttN, but still relying on a significant distance of existing copper cables. [iTWire]


  • “Quigley says that NBN’s quoted costs of $4400 per fibre to the premises install are outdated — and that if it tried, it could bring costs down.”

    Has he said how?

    • Process improvements, tool improvements, administrative improvements, economy of scale.

      Of course most of those cost improvements (especially better management and administration) apply to any install type.

  • I’ve just gotten back from a training course for FTTC and it’s a very good solution. It’s powered off the customer which takes a lot of the problems associated with FTTN off the table and the customers leadin is usually one of the most annoying aspects of an FTTP rollout. This is the best of both worlds and it’s easily upgraded to FTTP if you want it. There’s even talk that some ISP’s will upgrade your leadin to fibre for you.

    Also max distance of copper for nbn is 150m so speeds over it using copper will be very good.

        • It still creates a digital divide, the whole point of ubiquitous broadband is that it is ubiquitous. If some have FTTP while others have FTTN, then some have FTTC of HFC, all have different capacities which will become more apparent over time.

          As you stated, there is a cost to upgrade your FTTC to FTTP (side note, I doubt an ISP will pay to upgrade your home, maybe they’ll cover a flat fee of $300 for example if you sign a 2 year contract but you would be responsible for extended works), the poorer peoples of Australia will have access to a lower grade of infrastructure, apply this ideology to power, water, gas or sewerage, it just wouldn’t fly and would be decried as denying basic Australian rights to a taxpayer.

          Beyond this FTTP is the end game, even PM Trumbull and the NBN themselves know this and have openly stated it. Why does it make sense to ‘upgrade’ to an intermediary technology when the future upgrade path is already available at a similar cost? Not to mention the ongoing maintenance costs to support 1 technology FTTP is significantly less than maintaining the skills/tools to maintain 4 (excluding wireless and Satellite as it was in both proposals) different technologies.

          Continuing on the operating expenditure, the sheer increase in number of additional network infrastructure devices, nodes, towers (increased wireless component of the NBN) would be creating a significantly larger strain on the power infrastructure of this country regardless of whom’s power supply it comes from.

          • From a tech stand point it is a bottleneck when compared to FTTP. It would be like driving a car to the end of your street then taking a push bike for the last few hundred metres. Sure it can provide enough for ‘now’ but will be obsolete sooner than FTTP.

            Forgetting politics, financially FTTC makes no sense, in the light of this article and consider ongoing maint. Regardless of political policy and whom will pay for the eventual FTTP upgrade, it will be required and it will cost more to do it in the future than now.

            Before you mention purely technical and not considering cost, cost is the most important factor, if cost was not a factor then we would of course have FTTP to every house in Australia, cost is the reason this conversation is happening.

          • FTTC is not a couple of hundred metres of copper. Your home router / wireless is probably more of a bottleneck than the copper in FTTC.

          • It wasn’t meant literally, it was an analogy. Agree, home router is the biggest bottleneck and entirely the responsibility of the user.

          • With respect, I disagree. I think FttC makes far more sense financially myself. The cost to get to FttP is still the same, you only divert an acceptable portion of the cost onto the homeowner or the renter.

            Its financially responsible to look at how the expensive portion of a FttP build can be offset out of the public coffers, while still being a reasonable cost to the homeowner.

            And whether you agree or not, the 200+ Mbps that FttC can handle isn’t a digital divide. Not until that speed becomes a handicap, which is well over a decade away. Plenty of time to arrange for someone to drag a fibre line in from the pit to your property.

            What FttC does is take away plenty of the FttP bottlenecks, and puts more control onto the homeowner. And more importantly, gets the waste of FttN out of the build. People need to accept that FttP is not an option now.

          • Thats fine, I understand its a contentious issue. We can definitely agree on FTTN being a waste, and yes FTTC is far superior to FTTN.

            If I was a homeowner I would definitely pay to upgrade and the sooner the better, the costs will only increase, as I rent though, I don’t see that being viable at all, especially given the rights, or lack there of, for the Australian renter.

            However, this article is about how the FTTC cost is near identical to FTTP, if we take this article as telling the truth, by using FTTC we gain virtually nothing in the positive at all.

            Even if there is still a minimal saving right now, we know for fact that it must be upgraded, we also know for fact that it will cost more in terms of labour to do it later. Why would we sign up future generations to pay a greater cost when we can afford it now?

            Regarding your statement of 200+ Mbps being sufficient for a decade, I don’t know what you’ve based this on. I have done some quick googling and found nothing that supports your statement.

            Based on predicted trends we should be aiming for 1 Gbps by next year ( The number you have deemed to be our target is still below what other OECD countries already provide. Internet speed is not only about enough to get by, we need to be competitive with our OS neighbours or be left behind in the tech and financial sectors.

          • @spoonie56 hadn’t seen that 1 Gbps part, cheers for that. I generally go off speeds doubling every 2 years, which has been incredibly consistent since the early 90’s. That puts 100 Mbps on the radar of being our average need in around 5 years, and I haven’t seen anything to change that.

            I guess that for me I cant just accept the story as truth. Not completely. Theres something missing that means it just doesn’t add up to me, and that’s bugging me. Lets use numbers.

            FttP is stated as costing $4400 per premise, lets run with that. And yes, I know that $4400 is dropping (and pretty fast), for this its just a number. Working on the claim it costs the same, Quigley is saying FttC costs $4400 as well. But is that $4400 plus the future upgrade cost, or $4400 including the future upgrade cost?

            If its the former, no, I cant agree. Everything a FttC rollout does is mirrored in the FttP build. If its the latter, then its leaving out a few things, just to make a point. And that makes it no better than the LNP claims over the years, with all the political spin they put on the Cheaper Faster Sooner claims.

            Technically, they weren’t wrong. It just ignored inconvenient truths, which is what I’m wondering here. What info is being ignored or misrepresented?

            So say its $4400 for FttP, and $3700 for FttC plus $700 to the homeowner/tenant? That $700 being broadly based on the cost of putting a new phone line in, which is fundamentally the same process.

            To me, as a homeowner, that’s acceptable. If it was a choice of FttN for the next 30 years, or FttC and the OPTION of a one off $700 cost down the track, its a no brainer. Take FttC every day of the week and deal with that cost later on.

            I’m just questioning how the claim of equal cost is come to, that’s all. More detail, to debate the finer points, which really come down whether you agree that the last mile cost can or should be offset to the homeowner.

            Good debate btw.

  • Australia, the nation that traded superfast broadband for offshore refugee rape camps.

    We won’t look good in the history books.

  • I’d say that $4400 would be inflated for government contracts. I got quoted $30,000 when I asked how much it would cost for Taswater to install a water line to my property and connect me up to the mains – that was a 200 metre trench. So I said screw that, got permission from the council to dig along the road and put it in myself for roughly $500 (1/2 for an excavator for a we, and 1/2 for the pipe).

    Still got stung $2,500 for the cost of a new meter and connection.

    Goes to show how much quotes can be inflated when there’s a government body involved. It’s basically extortion. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if these per install costs are being inflated by contractors who know they can rip off the government thinking it won’t matter.

  • while I do agree the speed of NBN is almost saturated…. its enough for now,or 5 years behind.
    we should be pushing the 100MB/s or 1000MB/s or we are going to end up in the same place we have been with slow internet Infrastructure.

    sure people wont use 1GB/s but in the future say 10 years down the line, this means we dont have to totally Re-do the NBN

    if I was in charge of NBN I would have made it somewhat future-proof, not cutting costs… which is going to need upgrading again and again thus actually costing more.

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