The New NBN: Uncosted, No Upload Speeds And No Timetable

The New NBN: Uncosted, No Upload Speeds And No Timetable

The National Broadband Network (NBN) plan the Coalition took to the 2013 election included a promise that its NBN plans would be subject to a cost-benefit analysis before rollout and that the majority of Australians would be connected to higher-speed services by 2016. Six months later, neither of those things is true anymore.

Tearing picture from Shutterstock

The government this week sent its official updated Statement of Expectations to NBN Co, which is building the network. That plan mostly echoes what had already been established as likely policy during the strategic review of NBN Co: a move to using a mixture of technologies (including fibre to the node, existing copper networks, HFC cable, satellite, wireless and anything else that might pop up) rather than a fibre-to-the-premises approach.

Under that plan, guaranteed minimum speeds would be 25Mbps for downloads — much slower than fibre-to-the-premises, but (so we were told at the time) much cheaper and faster to roll out. As has always been the case with the Coalition approach, there’s no commitment to specific upload speeds beyond saying they should be “proportionate”, which bites.

What’s telling about the statement is what it doesn’t say. It removes the specification that those services be rolled out by 2016, replacing that with a requirement that it be done “as soon as possible”. One of the key arguments the Coalition made against Labor’s NBN was that it was running behind schedule. Apparently, it has now decided that not having a schedule will avoid it facing any similar criticisms.

Secondly, the statement has been issued even though the promised cost-benefit analysis of the revised NBN vision hasn’t been completed and isn’t expected for some months. Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull told journalists that this approach reflected the fact that “The company has got to get on”. In opposition, Turnbull never missed an opportunity to highlight the importance of a cost-benefit analysis. In power, apparently that’s no longer a priority.

Admittedly, it’s very hard to do a cost-benefit analysis when you can’t even identify which areas currently have the worst connections or which technologies you plan to use. While the Coalition’s plan is supposed to serve the areas of greatest need first, the current MyBroadband map that it meant to identify connections available in any given area is riddled with errors.

The practical upshot of all this? Trying to find out when or if you’ll get an NBN connection remains effectively impossible. Some people might get some faster stuff eventually. That’s all we know.


  • I would not be surprised if the “Cost benefit analysis” actually turns out to be around the same cost as the original FTH setup that Labor was running with, and I suspect Turnbull already knows this..! Let’s be honest here, does anyone know of even one promise the Libs made before the election, that they haven’t broken…?

    • They ‘stopped the boats’. Admittedly, this was achieved by basically dumping everyone in a third world toilet and letting the locals beat them to death, but they did keep their promise.

      • Not to mention the one thing that has a habit of stopping the boats almost every year, which is known as “monsoon season” will be interesting to see what happens when the weather calms down

        • Thanks for reaffirming the ideals of what being Australia are by recognising the benefits of stopping the boats. I can know say our anthem is peace.

      • Yeah, that was one of the few promises they were practically slathering over…! 🙂

      • In the words of Louis CK, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t give a shit about other people”.

        • Louis CK has quickly become one of my personal favorite comedians. Because behind that goddamn brilliant comedy, he spouts such ABSOLUTE truths about life that I haven’t heard since the late great George Carlin.

      • Well, to be more accurate they stopped REPORTING on the boats. All that changed was now the media only gets told about the boats. (Not that the boats were actually ever an issue. Well, they were if you actually are stupid enough to believe A Current Affair…)

        • I once had a conversation (well I spoke, the other party started yelling) about this issue. They got upset when I told them A Current Affair and Today Tonight where not news programs but entertainment shows for sheep.

          Best part while they wouldn’t admit to it being there problem, I broke it down to a problem step by step making them say it was their problem but than contradicting themselves by it not being their problem.

          • Indeed. If you look at certain world agreements, asylum seekers are meant to be taken in by the countries they go to, not treated the way we do. The statistics released by the ABS yearly do not support the claims that ‘there are too many!’ What they DO support, is the fact we have illegal Visa overstayers in Australia who rarely get a mention, if ever. That’s an actual issue, not people seeking asylum due to problems such as war, famine etc.

      • But weren’t we doing that anyway? I thought they stopped the boats by not talking about it as much

      • That’s 50-50. Labor introduced the Manus Island detention facility option which the Liberals have run with since they won the 2013 general election. Boat arrivals had already begun to drop in the dying days of the Labor govt. But it was the Liberals who introduced the tow back the boats policy which further augmented the existing arrangement. However my memory is a bit foggy on the whole Nauru thing. The Libs reintroduced Nauru, right?

        But yes, the Libs have stopped the boats.*

        *The govt does not comment on operational matters regarding Operation Sovereign Borders, so we don’t know the actual details.

      • Should probably point out that they achieved that by keeping a horrible policy implemented by Labour days before calling an election, in the hope they could appease enough xenophobic bogans to vote for them instead of the Coalition.

    • The stop the boats, or ‘we stopped the boats, take our word for it, everything is secret.’

      Abbott said he’d contest gay marriage in the ACT. He did that.

      They also said they would put ISDS back on the cards for free trade agreements. Which they are doing.

      So they have kept some promises, just horrible ones.

    • I’m sure both parties make promises that they don’t keep. Didn’t the Labor party promise not to introduce a carbon tax, but they did? I don’t have a problem with the carbon tax, just making a point.

      I’m also not picking any sides, just saying that one party isn’t perfect. Either can be good/bad in different people’s opinion. Labor was planning to introduce that internet filter which everyone hated. It never ended up happening, but shows that both parties can make favourable/unfavourable decisions.

      • In addition to that, I wish that the NBN fibre to the premises was still the plan. Hopefully next election Labor will win and bring it back? haha

        • Possible but we usually give a Government two bites of the PM pie so chances are we’ll have at least one more Liberal Government after this. Unless people really really hate the Liberals.

      • Gillard’s quote was “There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead, but lets be absolutely clear. I am determined to price carbon.”.

        Not to say that the Labor government was perfect but they were nowhere near as bad as represented by our faithful, honest and not at all compromised media.

      • Actually, I think you’ll find most of his memoir is somewhat tongue in cheek. Also, John Kerry does look lie he’s had plastic surgery, just sayin’.

        • Yes, the many examples of his overvalued sense of self-worth were just “tongue in cheek”. Clearly, it had nothing to do with his character.

          But there’s no point arguing this here. So long as the Libs go the mixed technology route, everyone here will assess them at their worst. No matter what action they take, they will be criticised by minds grounded in double standards and a lack of self-awareness.

          • Not really, they are doing that perfectly fine themselves.

            It seems no matter who we vote into power, they seem to get things wrong, a LOT of things wrong. At least we could have had a promising digital future with the old plan.

            Full disclosure: I have the NBN and for work and play it has change a lot of how I used to do things. Being able to download SC2 in less than 30 mins is nice, but having the bandwidth to work remotely without worrying about drop-out as I used to in my old premises is an absolute winner.

            I think everyone should have the same access that I am lucky to enjoy, the landscape is changing rapidly, especially with the drive in mainstream cloud services, I am wondering if 25mbps is going to be enough in 10 years time, or whether we will need to waste more money building what we needed in the first place….

          • With the current plan of Fibre-to-the-node we will most certainly need an upgrade in a decades time, 25Mbps is “okay” by today’s standards. The lack of guaranteed upload speed is deeply concerning.
            The original plan proposed by Labour was a blessing for Australia, it would have created many jobs and secured a promising future for Australia in this digital era.
            The shit talking Liberal party has become an absolute joke, I say we feed them to the sharks.

          • The rest of the world is installing Gigabit connections. We’re hoping to have 25 Megabits in 10 years.

            It’s like all your friends just got new Mountain Bikes and you got a 2nd hand Tricycle.

            Or for a more contemporary comparison, Everybody else got a PS4 and Abbot is considering letting us get a Intellivision (That predates the Atari 2600).

          • The Atari 2600 VCS came out in 1977, the Intellivision, 2 years later, in 1979.

            What Abbott and Turnbull are foisting on us is more akin to, um… exactly what we already have except it costs several billion dollars and will still require upgrading before it’s finished.

          • Out of curiosity, what type of connection did you have before the NBN? I haven’t heard of dropouts for over a decade.

    • yeah but the cost to connect to the fibre in the steets and then to the house after the fact will cost more then running fibre to the house would of to start of with

      • But that’s a cost that will be borne by a future government. For present day government, it is clearly a saving.

        • Um. It doesn’t matter if its a cost borne by a future government or a present day government. The tax payer pays for it. It’s an additional (and unnecessary cost) being borne by all the taxpayers.
          The Government is funded by the people.

          • You’re right that it makes no difference to taxpayers. But from the government’s point of view, any money spent is something the opposition can use against them.

            So if the current government can save money in the short term and force a future government to spend more money to fix the mess, they might be able to turn it into two political wins, even if it costs more in total.

          • I don’t disagree. My point is that the short termism is at the ultimate expense of the taxpayer. That’s what matters.
            It makes a big difference to tax payers because they are paying for it. It makes no difference for opportunistic politicians with short term gains in mind.

    • I could (and would love to) be wrong but I’m pretty sure fibre to the node (keyword node) doesn’t roll fibre down every street. Far from it, unless you live in a new estate.

      Not to mention the absolute waste of all the materials in each of the nodes that will be obsolete by the time they are finished being built. And the cost in power compared to fibre.

      • dont forget the 8 batteries in every node x roughly 70,000 nodes that need changing every couple of years. Its cool though duracell’s going to give the nbn co a bulk buy discount of %2

  • I guess all those were just regular promises and not ones that turn into mandates. Its funy how the promises they want are mandates, but the promises they don’t really want to make (non core promises in john howard speak) just get swept under the carpet.

  • So after looking up the definition of word proportionate to confirm my suspicions, it’s safe to assume that the CBN will include an upload capability…
    The use of that wording only rules out the possibility that it will be a download only network. Upload speed could be 1 bph and still satisfy the wording “proportionate”.

    • It’s another sign of how they’re putting Australian business at a disadvantage. Upload is very important.

      Last year I spent a lot of time travelling. A fair chunk was in group tours with people from all over the world around Africa. There’s drop boxes online people set up. Sharing videos and photos. All of them don’t understand how it’s so difficult for me to upload more than a small amount at a time. As even with high speed broadband I have stupidly slow uploads. I think capped at 50 kb/s. Thanks Optus.

      So if I am uploading it grinds me entire internet connection to a halt.

      • This is a point which really bothers me that more people aren’t making.

        1) upload bandwidth is fucking important!
        2) It REALLY is screwing over business and stifling innovation

        Manufacturing and industry is continuing to dissapear from Australia, and the current government keeps telling everyone “it’s ok, we are transitioning to *high tech* industries instead”.
        Yet, they are doing sweet fuck all to help these apparently high tech industries from getting the connectivity they need.
        Ask anyone who has needed to deploy any computing infrastructure, what it’s like trying to get upstream bandwidth. The only viable option is to put your stuff into colocation, which is impractical for a lot of smaller start-ups, expensive, and completely avoidable if we had a decent digital infrastructure.

        Therein lies the problem. For 99% of people [ergo, 99% of voters], the “internet” is facebook, youtube and twitter. “Why spend all of this money for people to watch youtube videos or download game of thrones faster?” is the response I get when trying to explain to people why we need the original, FTTH NBN.

        We need to get people to understand the broader social implications of being left behind in the future digitally connected world.

  • So this quicker, cheaper internet to the node…

    Is now triple the budget… (last report had it over was it… 41 or so billion now?)

    On a longer time frame…

    and still to the node.

    Well done Libs. Well done. *slow clap*.

  • I am a tech working on the NBN and I find it extramely hard to belive that fibre to the node will be cheaper then fibre to the house.
    The only reason i can think that they are doing this is that someone has there fingers in Telstra’s coffers. Telstra will get another massive payout to use their old, shitty, corroded, copper lead-ins.
    Then we will have to come back in 5-10 years to replace it with fibre when it finally dies.
    Do it once do it right.

    • Or if you’re a politician, “Do it 3 times over 10 years, requiring all new analysis and examination each time, with extortionate consultation fees to private contracting firms.”

  • I really hate this country. No matter which government is in, we hate them! No wonder they are just going for the money (Liberals AND labor), what’s the use in helping people that are ungrateful and always expect a better outcome. I mean seriously, no one could keep a promise when labor was in power, because labor kept everything hidden away. Liberals shouldn’t have made a blind promise…I’ll admit that, but it’s hardly their fault they were voted into a mess they couldn’t comprehend left behind by labor. I’m sick of hearing this Liberal hate…GIVE IT TIME! They might just pull something good off. If not, let Labor in again…and before you know it we’ll all be badmouthing them too, from the moment go.

    I’m Australian before Australian became ‘shoot first, ask questions later’. We expect too much, too fast and get too angry when we don’t get it…that’s what’s wrong with this country. It’s not the government, it’s the people.

    On a side note…simple answer to why the NBN is more costly and will take more time to produce: Labor lied about the original cost. Liberals are probably lying too.

    rant over

    • because labor kept everything hidden awayErmm.. ‘yer going to need to show what it was that was being hidden there dude, your bias is palpable. You think the Libs are not hiding shit…? Boat people ring any bells..? Labor may have stumbled over themselves, but they were trying to make things better, the NBN being just one example…!

    • Oh god. I’m sick of hearing excuses from people attempting to defend their party to death in being “its not their fault, the person before did it”.

      By that logic, its not our fault Australia is turning into a “shoot first, ask questions later” kind of country (whatever that means), its our parents fault, the generation before us, for leaving it in such a mess. You can’t by any means blame us for not cleaning it up like we proposed we could, or continuing on with how things were. We should just screw things up more, but then blame someone else, correct?

    • Bad Policy is Bad Policy. The Liberals have done a lot of Good Things for this Country. Gun Control so that we can’t shoot first comes to mind. But generally we have two gear Politics Labour Spends and fixes up Education, Health and Infrastructure. Liberals cut and save money, repay debts and screw up Education, Health and Infrastructure.

      We need a Government that doesn’t cut the above services to the bone to save money because it means it’s more expensive to fix them later.

      And the current Broardband Policy is like buying a car. We had the choice of a shiny new Holden Commodore, but for the same money we’re going to buy a 30 year rusty shitbox Holden Commodore. And for the Record, the prices are now the same. But this Archaic Copper network is falling apart and becoming more and more expensive to keep patched every year. But we’re keeping it, another Government will need to replace it, hopefully (from a Liberal Point of View) Labour.

      The cost of installing Infrastructure only goes up, the sooner we do it the more money we save.

      As for my opinion on Party Preferences. They’re all a bunch of mugs who are more in it for themselves than the People or the Country.

  • Gah! Bah Humbug and all that! Labor why did you have to be so sh** and lose the election! Libs didn’t win Labor LOST IT!

  • I suggest we start a petition to connect turnbull to pigeon net, it satisfies his requirement for 50 Mbps download (actually much much faster), it just has terrible quality of service and latency. Talking about a specification based build, the new announcement waters down the requirements of the NBN so it can no longer provide the ehealth monitoring outcomes, or indeed any conferencing or telecommuting outcomes with such terrible uploads, latency, and reliability. While these outcomes help to continue to keep newscorp in a position of power, they will send the government broke in areas such as health, education, and infrastructure. Heck even a HDD sent via Australia post meets the new download speed criteria.

  • I believe the future is a wireless connection because it’s so much easier to upgrade. 5G has said to be 1Gb/s which will basically leave the FTTN or FTTP pointless, having to put wires underground and then later having to replace the cable isn’t economical whereas having multiple wireless hubs acting just like a usual internet exchange will be far more beneficial. Of course though there will need to be more of these wireless/internet exchanges than the usual internet exchange but will make a lot more sense. Possibly for business they could have a FTTP and connecting cities like Melbourne and Sydney, but for towns and suburbs there really is no need for every residential house to have FTTP or every street to have FTTN especially when 5G will be 1Gb/s.

    • Wireless is just as hard to spread across a large area, and is much more varied in its connection speed. That, and download isn’t everything, neither is upload. You have to take into account connection consistency, and latency, both of which are far worse on a wireless connection.

      Wired is fine, its just not good when you “hash” together a plan that uses ancient technology that never really was designed for wired internet, instead just utilised for it, instead of upgrading to a technology that wouldn’t need replacement for decades to come, and instead benefit from the same improved usage that copper did about.. 10 years ago.

      EDIT: To put it into perspective, I live in a relatively built up part of Western Sydney. I’m < 1 hour away from the city by car, and a bit over by train. I barely see a 3G signal, and am often stuck using E or H while at home. I can get it more reliably as I move closer to the city, but even then, its not something i’d trade a wired connection in my house for any day.

    • lulz at the n00bs on here wireless is the dream, but there’s at least 200 years to go before we get even close to that kind of tech. As an article on here once said, on the same level as comprehending colonizing mars, fathomable at an intellectual level but until we make leaps and bounds in both space flight and teraforming, not realistic.

      Why? Wireless as its stands is contention based (just like all other wide scale networking technologies in use today), you cannot compare it to a more traditional system like TV or radio where the users are only receiving (downloading) content, users have to be able to upload content as well.

      What this basically translates to is that each user must be assigned a frequency for their own use. While you can get away with signal multiplexing and QoS to squeeze the most users in per cell and make their perceived experiences better, it all comes back to the same problem i.e. There’s only so much bandwidth (frequencies) to go around.

      This is why wireless speed is stated per cell not per user, i will re-iterate this…


      It is the reason why you will never see a wireless provider of 3G, 4G or even your much vaunted 5G GUARANTEEING speeds to users, it is the same old bullshit you experience with ADSL(2) i.e. they’ll say up to #No. Mbps. Why because they wont know the QoS they can deliver because the number of users per cell will fluctuate greatly in any given timespan.

      If you want a practical example, lets take your 5G standards and ignoring signal multiplexing and other methods of optimization, lets just take it in base form and try to squeeze as many users we can into the cell as possible.

      1Gbps (per cell) / number of users = speed per user.

      – 1Gbps / 20 users = 50Mbps per user
      – 1Gbps / 50 users = 20Mbps per user
      – 1Gbps / 100 users = 10Mbps per user
      – 1Gbps / 200 users = 5Mbps per user

      You get the idea, as the number of users increase speed for the individual decreases until particularly in the suburbs where you might have high density residential housing or even apartment blocks enabling hundreds perhaps thousands of families to connect per cell…

      This is why wireless is popular in rural / remote Australia because the population density out there is so sparse the number of users per cell will at most only be in the double digits therefore allowing people to get more bandwidth out of their connection.

      So if this is the case why did i say its still possible for wireless to be a reality? Use your google machines and research:

      “Quantum Entanglement Networks”

      Maybe add the word “wireless” in there and see what turns up. Until then please refrain from commenting as you’re only adding fuel to peoples confusion fire.

  • Maybe I’m just not old enough to have seen this coming, but I can’t begin to express how incredibly frustrating it is to watch this circus unfolding. It’s like the midas touch but for fecal matter.

  • Just FYI, you are constantly uploading when actively on the internet.
    When you enter “” into your browser, you’re sending various requests to discover the domain and its content otherwise known as uploading.
    If upload speeds were restricted to 1bph (or even 1bps) it would render the connection useless.

    I see your point though and you’re right, they have intentionally been vague about the upload speeds. I personally would like at least 8Mbps upload which would greatly increase my work productivity.

  • So you seriously believe the last government’s costings and timetables? You never noticed how hopelessly optimistic all of their budgets were? Bloody hell!

  • Everybody is talking 25Mbps download speed but that was revised so as that was guaranteed to the isp only Not and I repeat Not to the end user for the end user its still whatever your crappyconnection will handle is what you get


      I already HAVE a 25Mbps download speed, it’s called ADSL2+

      But after you factor in the terrible copper wire, the 30+kms I am from my exchange, and the number of people in my area, my real-world connection speed is a lovely zippy 1.5Mbps, and my actual download speed maxes out at around 300Kbps.

      • WOW, you are unlucky, I’m on satellite and get faster speeds than that. No offence, but I doubt you are that far from the exchange. 30+ kilometers? Holy crap thats a long way, is the next exchange 2 suburbs away? They shouldn’t be offering ADSL2+ that far out, with a load the maximum realistic speed for your supposed situation is about dial-up, approx. 50Kb/s down and 20Kb/s up. AKA, if your nearest exchange is 30 k’s away you should be on wireless or satellite.

  • As someone who has worked for a dozen telcos, and in many senior roles I am privy to much information that no one else here has access to. To avoid a ten pager here are my comments.

    1. Whether it be ALP or Liberal the NBN isn’t about giving Australia a next-generation leading edge communication network its about immense corruption and profit making. The question for the political parties and their respective corporate/union benefactors is who actually profits out of this.

    2. the ALP plan was careful crafted to ensure that individuals benefited greatly. Various general manager and head’s of roles were given to ALP stooges in Eddie Obeid like branch stacking – these roles were highly paid, $300-$500k, plus bonus. I know this because a close friend who works for NBN in a senior role explained how the NBN was hobbled from communicating to the public and instead all communications were careful crafted, marketed and timed for maximum political benefit.

    3. The liberals aren’t any better. The LNP announced 2016 they would deploy a large amount of the network, and although they are embarking on sneaky lawyer’s tricks (i.e. remove any written requirement for this) they have nonetheless made it clear to the market that they will buy any bullshit hodgepodge solution if it gets them the headline “LNP delivers NBN 2016”.

    For the media have swallowed hook line and sinker the claim TPG are “deploying” a Fibre to the Basement. When TPG purchased AAPT they scored hundreds if not thousands of buildings across the CBD’s of every major capital city (apartment and office) connected to AAPT (All About PowerTel) fibre loops which in turn terminated into NTU’s (Network Termination Units) in the basements of those buildings. (long story short but through corrupt dealing PowerTel scored an exclusive to lay fibre in power cable conduits hence massively reducing the cost of a fibre roll out). See AAPT was busy sucking dry its wholesale and Corporate customers with ridiclious priced Ethernet over fibre services.

    TPG didn’t “roll” anything out. They bought and will flip it for 6-10 times what they bought it for. Not only will the liberals do it because it wins them a great headline but it also means funneling more, public, funds to people who are liberal party supporters.

    If I had money I’d be buying huge amounts of TPG shares right now.

    The gold rush is on, watch as a number of dodgy providers out there try to hobble together bullshit xDSL solutions that supply above the min 25/1 mbps throughput.

    4. My final point is this. You would be foolish and naive to believe the ALP or LNP actually give a shit about your internet speeds. These people are businessmen who want power and money. They are deeply corrupt and are dealing with an industry full of criminals.

    Being privy to wholesale and carrier pricing I can say for sure that the public are being utterly ripped off. The margins for traffic off of akamai is ridicilious (we’re talking 10^9). These crooks are deeply corrupt and there is no way that the NBN in its purest form will ever be delivered.

    I think King Nebuchadnezzar said most aptly: “I have dreamed a dream… but now that dream is gone from me”

    • 1. True but in the case of the ALP’s version of the NBN (majority FTTP) the end consumer and Australia on the whole stands to benefit more.

      2. Derp you already stated this in point 1, the NBN Co WASNT SUPPOSED TO COMMUNICATE WITH THE PUBLIC. The definition of wholesaler is:

      Wholesaling, jobbing, or distributing is the sale of goods or merchandise to retailers; to industrial, commercial, institutional, or other professional business users.

      The only contact they should have had if the contracted companies had fulfilled the conditions was to install MDU’s.

      3. “The liberals aren’t any better.” Yup

      4. Well duh, but the point is speed/reliability is a result of the technology/mediums being used not because is better, worse, more corrupt or w/e.

  • Under that plan, guaranteed minimum speeds would be 25Mbps for downloads
    No, I believe you’ll find it’s “up to” 25 Mb/s.

  • The coalition’s NBN is very bad value for money, it is less than a quarter as good but over half the price. With a rollout so appalling I would be happy to see the whole lot canned and the ridiculous waste of money the coalition have started be put into roads or something worthwhile, Leave the NBN until Labor get back in and can finish the job properly. The liberals “cheap and nasty” approach to everything annoys me and will leave this country in ruin, they seem to be incapable of doing anything right, they are spending all this money on ripping up an old network and replacing it with something that is not even any better. Why?

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