Kevin Rudd: There Should Be A Royal Commission Into The NBN

Kevin Rudd: There Should Be A Royal Commission Into The NBN
Image: Getty

Last night, former Prime Minister and sauce-bottle-shaker Kevin Rudd took part in a Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’. At first, it seemed like he was just really keen to promote his new book. However, in light of his recent interview with Leigh Sales, the NBN was a hot topic and it seems he isn’t quite done with slamming it, or the Murdoch media, yet.

Rudd, even as PM, seemingly relished the media coverage he received, giving colourful interviews on shows like The Chaser’s War On Everything and Rove. His Reddit AMA was a lot more serious in tone than those appearances and he took to answering questions about his greatest achievements as PM, his love of Yarralumla Turkish Pide and strangely, that his favourite ‘flavour’ of meat pie is Four’N’Twenty (that’s not a flavour, Kev).

Yet the brunt of the questioning focused around the NBN. It was Reddit user ahly96 who asked the former PM whether he thought that there should be a royal commission into the ‘debacle’ and Rudd’s answer was a resounding yes. You can see the conversation below:

He also dropped this on Abbott, just to rub it in:

Some users began to suggest that Rudd speaking out about these issues now was a little convenient, given that he is trying to launch an autobiography. Rudd knocked that idea on its head.

If you’re interested in more thoughts from the ex-PM, you can view the thread in its entirety here.


  • NBN was a bad idea from the start. It is almost already obsolete. There is a Gizmodo article about telstra testing 5G technology at 20 Gbps Some people will say what about the latency? But real-time applications typically don’t need high bandwidth volumes and most routers and operating systems implement long TCP queues in any case to optimize available bandwidth. Also the NBN goes down in the case of power outage whereas the CAN would still operate. Now our communications will be dependent on an already fragile power distribution network.

  • Per Mike Quigley’s analysis he has calculated at the current rate NBN will spend approx $90 billion.

    If you take a look at the Square Kilometre Array Project AArnet are creating a network that will connect millions (no hyperbole) of radio telescopes and devices in the barren wasteland deserts of Western Australia and South Africa.

    Each telescope will be connected with hyper fast terabit fibre, where they will send this data to super computer centres in Perth and Cape Town. Undersea connectivity, network and computers will only be costing $2 billion. This network will move in one day more traffic then the entire internet moves in a year. A fricken Exabyte scale network! For $2 billion

    And yet the NBN is going to cost us $90 billion and that was too expensive to lay fibre into the interior! Bullshit!

    The fact of the matter is that the NBN has been design to ensure that Telstra, Optus and the other big telco’s do not collapse. The CVC construct on paper was created to pay back the project, far too quickly (Rudd dictated this bit).

    To ensure that the CVC was justified the ALP and Liberals spent like drunken sailors. Think about it, if NBN had only costed $10-20 billion there would have been no need to have a CVC pricing construct. If NBN bandwidth was basically free, the huge corporations and government agencies that spend tens of billions with Optus, Telstra and co would abandon their price fixed over charged services and move to NBN.

    The CVC was justified because we wasted billions on Sky Muster satellites, the ACCC dictated 120 PoI, the $10 billion NBN backbone network and the tens of billions wasted on the Telstra copper, or it’s and Optus’s HFC networks. We did not need any of this!

    As a direct result of the CVC contention ratios for the NBN are easily exceeding 100:1

    And that traffic for the most part is pushed onto the 4th tier of the CVC, which basically treats the traffic with the lowest quality of service available. Shit ICMP packets get better priority. This explains why the NBN has poor latency, packet loss and a heap of other problems.

    We could have had, for $20-30 billion (and that’s far too much in itself) which could have given everyone 1:1 100mbps / 40 mbps broadband internet with unlimited domestic traffic (we could have set quota’s for traffic going out on undersea fibre). But how you ask?

    1. The government could have purchased AAPT which was for sale at the time. For $400 million they could have gotten a state of the art network with 10-100gbps fibre loops across every capital city , 12,000 of intercapital fibre network (with protected routes), hitting every capital city and going down every major road, not to mention a heap of regional towns and cities.

    2. About 20 years ago a company called PowerTel was created with an exclusive, perpetual licence (a dodgy deal done by a liberal party stooge) to use the underground conduits created by the big power companies in Australia. Sliding a fibre cable into them let PowerTel provision a fibre network for an incredibly low cost. Fast forward With the PowerTel bought by AAPT which was in turn put up for sale 2010.

    Purchasing AAPT would have gotten the incredibly cheap exclusive PowerTel conduit licence would have allowed the government to provision every single building the country with (which is exactly what TPG are doing). Imagine this. We are talking pretty much every building in every single city in the country could have gotten a fibre connection for the cost of the fricken fibre cabling.

    3. Where a house or building did not have underground power, and where there was no conduits or telco conduit/pits that could be used a quick change to town planning laws and NBN could have laid the fibre on telegraph poles. Greatly reducing the cost of its provision.

    4. No sub-contractors. I know a lot of people in NBN and they’ve all told me because of sub-contracting madness the contractors have had a race to the bottom and have hired the worst technicians in the country. Naive, foolish and stupid technicians who have to pay the cost of everything on a NBN job but get paid criminally low. As a result a huge number of jobs are screwed. Wiring done incorrectly or not at all. Missed appointments, poor labelling etc. This causes a huge amount of rework hence the horror stories.

    The NBN should have had in house construction crews in LGA’s across the country. I have seen crews build an intercapital fibre link, across a desert using nothing more than a caravan, back-hoe and a truck with the fibre roll. The NBN could have done this and its costs would have been significantly lower.

    5. Using compulsory acquisition laws Telstra could have been compelled to hand over dark fibre in regional areas. I find it so incredibly screwed up that people are forced out of their houses to make way for physical highways but where companies like Telstra have assets that are either unused or underutilized (they do this to reduce supply thus increasing the cost of wholesale transit) that they’re not required to give up for this project of national importance.

    6. Using a combination of NBN built fibre, Telstra and AAPT fibre, we could have built a fibre backbone network into the interior. Using the billions in the black spot program, the project to build an emergency services communication network and several other programs, they could have built a fibre network connecting 4G mobile phone towers, opening these towers up to Telstra, VHA, Optus and TPG.

    As a result the people of the desert would have gotten something they need far more than NBN broadband. They would have gotten a working 4G mobile phone services.

    This would have greatly reduced the cost of end-user equipment, reduced the complexity of the NBN for the older people. Seriously if you’ve been to the outback and the isolated communities the idea that they’ll have a NBN NTU on a wall of their house is just stupid.

    IF they had 4G, this would help the bush so much. Low latency, broad bandwidth, availibity! The trificater, and NBN could have offered cheaper fixed location 4G services. Emergency services, businesses and the population would have been connected up with a network that everyone could use, has a phone to use it with.

    This network would have also greatly assisted the scientific community. Imagine astronomers able to build telescopes in dark skies areas being serviced by NBN fibre! We could be building gravity wave observatories in the outback for godsake

    7. A retail NBN. The government always wanted to sell the NBN but i think after $50-90 billion this would be a crime. If they had built a NBN retail and NBN wholesale they could have floated NBN retail.

    But NBN retail would be legislated to serve an important purpose. A basic standard. Legislated to provide 10:1 unlimited broadband at certain price points i.e. $100 a month for 100 / 40 mbpsd and business services at $500 a month for 100mbps (up to $1000 for 1 gbps) NBN Retail would have ensued the disgusting race to the bottom that is happening right now would be stopped. And it could have been floated a decade or two after the market had settled down to the new product constructs and paradigms.

    RIght now the CVC creates a huge disincentive to buy more bandwidth. Every mbps costs $17.50 (+ $20 for wholesale transit), or $3750 for 100 mbps. Like I said before you need approx 10,000 users paying $1000 a month to get a return on this plus the fixed monthly costs the NBN and your operation (customer service, data centres, wages etc) cost you – this is a contention ratio of 100:1 (10,000 mbps to 100mbps of supply)

    As a result if your competitor increases the contention ratio to 200:1 they can sell their product for an even cheaper price then you. Best of all whenever the customers complain you can just blame the NBN for the shoddy service.

    A big thing in the Internet is conditioning customers to accept crappy services. I kid you not. I worked with a senior telco IT manager who created network shaping that slowed customers down when they used more internet, but increased their speed when they decreased their usage (all without telling the customers). We saw a huge reduction in usage as people would subconsciously reduce their usage when their internet got slow. And i’ve seen this sort of thing in other companies.

    Lastly a great deal of the internet we consume comes out of things called COntent Delivery Networks created by Akamai, Netflix, Amazon and Google. They have their CDN boxes in the data centres of the big telcos so they can deliver Netflix, Microsoft patches, Sony PSN, Apple’s app & itunes without having to go to the US for that data.

    That means all that traffic costs your ISP literally a millionth of a cent. ( $2000 a month co-lo rack fee divide by terabytes of usage). NBN Retail and Retail Service Providers could have easily sold unlimited 10:1 (or better) packages.

    8. Lastly we did not need to buy Telstra copper or HFC. Those deals were to ensure that the Future Fund’s financial viability. The Future Fund is the huge pot of money that the politicians created using the 49% of Telstra still owned by the government. This fund is used to pay politician super.

    The huge amount of money given as a result of the NBN deal to Telstra, the creation of the CVC to ensure Telstra big corporate and government agency customers did not move to NBN fibre, was all design to ensure Telstra did not collapse.

    At the end of the day the NBN is a huge scandal, a huge amount of money given to US, European and the odd Australian company as the old boy network continues there never ending reign of corruption and nepotism.

  • Yes.

    And a Federal ICAC.
    This entire farce was caused by political interference.

    Fibre to the premises. It’s not rocket science. But Abbott and Turnbull ensured the failure of a multi billion dollar project for political reasons, namely to satisfy the Murdoch’s. They need to stand before a judge, and explain themselves.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!