Can The Australian Copper Network Really Deliver The NBN?

Can The Australian Copper Network Really Deliver The NBN?

The Coalition Government plans for a fibre-to-the-node version of the National Broadband Network (NBN) relies on using the existing copper network to deliver the final connection. We’ve looked before at some of the technical challenges that poses. At the ABC, Nick Ross has a detailed examination of the issues currently facing the Telstra-owned copper network.

Picture: Can Of Worms

It’s a lengthy read, but interesting if you want insights into issues that are already being experienced with the network. How easily those issues can be remedied will be a major challenge for the Coalition to make good on its promise to deliver the first stage of its NBN vision by 2016 (though one imagines the board resigning won’t help that process either).

NBN alternative: Is Australia’s copper network fit for purpose? [ABC]


  • Yes, but only if they use magical fairy dust.

    I’m going to guess that they will say it was never a promise to have it completed by 2016, just a goal.

      • What I gathered, a lot of the overly-optimistic FTTN claims are based on previous rollouts in places like Germany, where the population density is higher, and the quality of the copper cables in place was good enough.

        Out here, we have a more spread out population, which impacts FTTN, lower quality cables, both in the ground and at each junction, with some joins being horribly and shoddily done, which make a lot of the comparison here invalid. Plus a whole bunch of executives flip-flopping on what they think the quality is like – IE, whatever makes them the most money at the time.

        Not to say that FTTN couldn’t work, but assuming it will work here in our conditions when it has worked somewhere else with different circumstances is a bad idea.

  • Before we got the NBN connected, whenever It rained heavily for any length of time we knew we were going to have to call our ISP for repairs sooner or later. When the techs came around to fit the NBN, I asked them what they thought of the copper in town. Basically a lot of it is nearly a hundred years old and not fit for use as regular phone line, let alone NBN speeds. I note also that when I asked what they thought of the fibre to the node plan, they had no idea what I was talking about..?

    • The average mug voter has no idea what the difference between FTTP and FTTN is.

      Turnbull and the Liberals know this and that it means they can get away with forcing a sub-standard NBN on the proletariat.

      However, I personally believe the Coalition won’t deliver an NBN at all because they have gone back to the broken “competition” business model of their former boss – Howard.

      Already TPG and Telstra want to cherry pick and connect people to their own fibre or HFC cable in profitable city areas. That means NBNco can never even break even and is not even remotely viable, hence the resignation of all but one of NBNco’s board.

      • Though these were the NBN techs that Timmahh was referring to. I’m surprised as you are (Timmah) that they didn’t know what it was given that it’s something that has quite an impact on their job.

        • These guys were very young (by my standards) so I doubt they read the paper or watched the news any more than any other kid these days. Given this is well before the election and given the lack of information actually disseminated, I doubt FTTN was even on their radar…

          • Those guys would also be simple minimum wage casual contract staff there to just haul cable ready for the ‘skilled tech’ to connect the equip and jointing at each end.

  • In the Coalition’s NBN policy document, they estimate that 22% of premises will end up on FTTP (with 71% FTTN and the remainder on fixed wireless and satellite as in the Labor plan). Of this 22%, or 2.8 million premises, 1.6 million will be greenfields development (ie, new houses) or areas where NBN Co has already deployed FTTP, and the remaining 1.2 million (10% of all premises) will be brownfields development, “in areas with the poorest or most maintenance-intensive copper”.

    The problem is that only Telstra (and potentially not even them either) has any idea how many premises are currently served by copper that’s not capable of reaching the 25 Mbps the Coalition are promising. It could be 10%. It could be more. If it’s more, then the putative price gap between the Coalition and Labor plans starts to narrow very quickly.

    The Coalition themselves acknowledge in the policy document that FTTN is a stopgap. Their position is essentially that it will be cheaper in terms of capital costs to build FTTN now, then scrap it in ten years to build FTTP. They’re gambling that construction costs will be cheaper then, and that FTTN costs now will not be so high as to erase the saving. They make themselves out to be prudent economic managers but they are gambling with tens of billions of public dollars.

    • Gambling has a least a chance at success, to call this gambling is absurd.

      They are going with the inferior option period. They will end up paying identical costs to a full roll out now due to maintenance (25mbps on copper will need to be replaced ALL the time) and then even it cost half what it would now to re do the entire thing (this is being absurd, its going to cost double what it cost now, easily) and even that wouldn’t break even.

      No their policy is a joke, for it to even be a gamble the redo in 10-15 years would need to be virtually free. It’s a gross abuse of power from a corrupt government using the media monopoly to get votes from the people too stupid or disinterested to care.

  • I am on Bigpond Broadband and I have 100mbs service, so why would these liberal numbskulls want to send this country back to the stone age??? They seem not to have woken up to the real benefits of matching world standards in respect of IT , so I am betting that they won’t just be voted out in three years, they will be laughed out!!!!!

    • Hopefully they will be voted out when they go to the double dissolution vote over repealing the carbon tax.

      But the people will probably vote them back in because Murdoch will flood his media with negative story’s about the Labor boogeyman and the uniformed masses will collectively shit them selves and vote the Liberals back in.

      • Hopefully they will be voted out when they go to the double dissolution vote over repealing the carbon tax.Yeah,.. unfortunately I seriously doubt that will happen. He’s in the big boy seat now, and I doubt he’ll risk it with a DD vote… 🙂

        • Not until the new senate is sworn in and then it won’t be until much later in his term. Still plenty of time to screw the pooch on the NBN… 🙁

  • no doubt when the Coalition’s NCoN takes a decade to rollout, Turnbull will have been booted, Abbott won’t be PM and the party remind us that Labor’s NBN would have take another two decades or more to complete (on 2013 estimates).

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!