Government Ignores NBN Committee Recommendations, Says FTTN Is Totally Fine

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In September 2017, the Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network released a comprehensive report detailing the issues with the NBN and recommendations for the Government to improve the service. One of the chief recommendations was to complete much of the remaining fixed line network using, at a minimum, FTTC technology.

The Government's response to the first report has largely rubbished those recommendations.

The initial report, The rollout of the National Broadband Network provided the Government with 23 recommendations surrounding the future of the NBN. Among them, switching the rest of the rollout to FTTC at a minimum, forming regional support groups and giving end users clear information about the maximum obtainable speed of their NBN on a per premise basis.

However, the Government's response, dated January 2018 begins as so:

The Government is disappointed that after considering 191 submissions; holding 15 public hearings; receiving testimony from 179 witnesses; and undertaking three site visits, the Committee's majority report and recommendations indicates a failure to understand the fundamentals of the NBN.

You would assume that after considering that amount of submissions and hearings, the Committee would be somewhat well-placed to make a statement on the future of the NBN rollout, even if the Liberal members that were a part of that Committee didn't necessarily agree with those recommendations.

Now, the Government has taken an official stance and responded in kind: Many of the suggested recommendations will not be supported.

In the face of today's news, 'Recommendation 1' may be the most damning. In The rollout of the National Broadband Network report, this recommendation states that "the Australian Government direct and enable nbn to complete as much as possible of the remaining fixed line network using FTTC at a minimum (or FTTP), and require nbn to produce a costed plan and timetable under which that would be achieved."

In the Government's response article, in bold, they clearly state that they do not support this recommendation.

They are backing in their controversial Multi Technology Mix (MTM) and suggest this will see the rollout occur as fast as possible and at affordable prices to the tax payer. The Government, as the Chair of the Committee did, highlights that the cost to taxpayers of changing direction in technology would be substantial, both in terms of delay and spend in excess of another $30 billion.

Sadly, this won't be great news to users stuck on FTTN technology. By the time the rollout is complete in 2020, only one in four users will have access to speeds of 100Mbps or more if they're using Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) technology. On the other hand, 100% of FTTC, FTTP, FTTB, HFC and 50% of Fixed Wireless users will have access to 100Mbps or better.

Complicating matters is the fact that NBN Co report the FTTN and FTTB numbers together - a figure that stands at 4.6 million premises ready for service and 3.4 activated. Thus, it's impossible to tell exactly how many customers will fall in that 24% that cannot achieve 100Mbps by the time the rollout is complete in 2020.

With retailers already providing refunds to NBN users for inadequate speeds and many unwilling to pay the exorbitant fees to ISPs for the extra speed in the first place, there may seem to be merit in the Government suggesting MTM is the way forward.

Yet, it's hard to imagine that this mixed technology approach will pay dividends in the future, when users clamour for higher and higher bandwidth.


    Because it's far more important in Australian politics to stick to provably awful convictions, criticized by experts, than it is to admit to any kind of failing and change your stance in response to new evidence.

    Fuck's sake, it almost seems like that for the LNP being criticized by experts and scientists is a policy prerequisite.

      Labor did the same but on the opposite end.

      Fibre was the right idea but when criticised on the lack of over sight and cost blowouts, they played the "old news" card and tried to run from their own mess.

      As it stands now, neither side can organise an explosion in a nitro factory. And for those who don't know what nitro is, it was an old form of explosive that basically detonated if one so much as shone sun light on it.

    What's the point in seeking expert opinion if you then just plough on regardless?
    The shortsightedness of those in charge of nbn beggars belief.

      Government should be ruled by technocrats who are as unbiased as possible -- starting with having no religious conviction. They should rule for life with handsome salaries to maintain their independence. Family political dynasties should be outlawed.

      How are the Liberals meant to form policy if they dont seek expert opinions and then do the exact opposite?

    The Australian people are disappointed that after considering ignoring all the submissions; holding, all the hearings; all the testimony, and undertaking multiple visits to every corner of the planet as "study trips" to see how other countries have better internet that us, the Australian Government majority has ignored all recommendations because they won't admit they screwed up a major infrastructure project worth billions of dollars cause they ignore everyone who doesn't agree with them.

    Seriously, Telstra the one they paid the most in the NBN contracted payments, buying their copper, compensating them for each new person connecting the NBN, paying access fees to Telstra infrastructure (even though you bought it)... is telling you - you messed it up, paid too much and won't make your money back. (cause they took it all).

    The fundamental flaw is your blind sided attitude that not investing in full Fibre didn't have knock on effects to the economy, education, health care and government. Seriously cheap fast internet would of saved the Australia government 100s of million a year in infrastructure investment alone. Information Technology is the largest employer in Australia, not mining. You spend 100s of millions for a road that services 100,000 people a day... yet won't spend 40 times that amount for a service that 240 times more people will use everyday of their life.

    You want to boost the economy, cheap fast internet has a knock on effect that will effect every small and large business.

    Turnbull is so arrogant and full of himself that he would rather take his Coalition colleagues to defeat at the next election than admit that FTTN is a failure, sack Bill Morrow and dump it.

    Just set up FttN for the mother-in-law. Getting a super-fast... 15Mbps. Even the sales team said originally she'd be lucky to get 25Mbps (at max), given the distance from the node. So disappointing compared to my FttP connection.

    Gotta love FttN. *sigh*

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