Friday, 11 March 2016

This was Malcolm Bligh Turnbull's NBN promise to the Australian people during the 2013 federal election campaign

This was then Australian Communications Minister Malcom Bligh Turnbull’s promise to voters during the 2013 federal election campaign:

On 12 December 2013, less than three months after the Liberal-Nationals Coalition won government, ITnews reported:

The Coalition is already predicting an $11.5 billion blowout to the cost of building its version of the national broadband network, but says it will still cost less than Labor's scheme….
the Coalition's own pre-election pledges proved overly optimistic, with costs expected to come in at "around" $41 billion rather than the promised $29.5 billion.

The 2016 forecast to bring 25 Mbps to all Australians has also been canned. Instead, the Coalition predicts it will be able to bring download speeds of up to 25 Mbps to 43 percent of premises in Australia's fixed-line footprint by that time.

The Coalition's approach "should also be able to deliver access to wholesale speeds of up to 50 Mbps to 90 percent of Australia's fixed-line footprint and wholesale speeds of up to 100 Mbps to 65-75 percent by 2019".

The Coalition will only guarantee these speeds to NBN Co's wholesale customers — internet service providers. There will no longer be a guarantee of what each end user will see in terms of speeds delivered to the home.

On 25 August 2015, almost two years after Abbott & Co formed government, itWire reported the deteriorating NBN situation thus:

It’s official. The Coalition version of the NBN, with its inferior copper technology, will cost as much as Labor’s all-fibre version – on the Government’s own figures.

In February last year – 18 months ago – I sat in a room full of IT journalists and heard Malcolm Turnbull’s deputy, Paul Fletcher, admit that the Coalition’s costings of Labor’s planned NBN had been exaggerated.

Before the September 2013 election Turnbull and Fletcher and Abbott and the rest of the Coalition, when they weren’t chanting ‘Stop the Boats!’ and ‘Axe the Tax’, were endlessly repeating the unsubstantiated talking point that Labor’s NBN would cost $90 billion, more than twice ALP Communications Minister Stephen Conroy’s estimate of $39 billion.

Then Fletcher, in February 2014 said in a public forum, in a direct response to my question, and in front of dozens of witnesses, that NBN Co’s internal review of Labor’s NBN had costed it at $56 billion, much closer to Labor’s figure than the inflated estimate the Coalition took to the election.

When I quizzed him on the disparity between the Coalition’s $90 billion estimate of a FTTP network and the much lower NBN Co estimate (made by the management team the Coalition had put into place) of $56 billion, the best Fletcher could say was that the Coalition estimate “may have been a little high”.

Now it seems its estimate of its cut-down version of the NBN ‘may have been a little low’. The big advantage of the Coalition’s ‘multi technology mix’ model, in which millions of households will receive fibre-to-the-node rather than fibre-to-the-home, was supposed to be that it would be a lot cheaper.

Now the CEO of NBN Co, at the briefing accompanying the release of the company’s annual financial figures, has said that the Coalition’s ‘multi technology mix’ NBN will cost at least $46 billion and may cost as much as $56 billion – EXACTLY the same figure that Malcolm Turnbull’s handpicked experts had estimated the Labor FTTH NBN would cost…

That same day The Sydney Morning Herald ran with this:

A $15 billion blowout in the cost of building the national broadband network, partly caused by the slow rollout of key broadband services, could make the internet more expensive for Australians, M2 Group chief executive Geoff Horth said.
NBN on Monday revealed that the cost of building the project would increase by as much as 36.6 per cent to $56 billion up from the $41 billion previously forecast.

By 14 September 2015 The Sydney Morning Herald was reporting:

It is taking Telstra longer overall to repair phone lines damaged during extreme weather than previous years, leaving some consumers and businesses without service and ineligible for compensation.

However, the cost of fixing copper network outages in the street will soon transfer to the government-owned NBN Co, under a rewritten multibillion-dollar deal with Telstra…..

What many people do not realise is that if NBN Co were to announce this week it was rolling out fibre-to-the-node [FTTN] internet in Punchbowl, it would become responsible for making sure Mr Patane's mud-soaked copper wires were good enough for a 50 megabit per second service.

"If it's an area designated to receive FTTN, and the copper in the street needs to be remediated and can be remediated, then we will remediate it," an NBN Co spokesman said.

"If the copper cannot be remediated, then we will use one of the other technologies we have at our disposal to provide them with a service."

NBN Co becomes responsible for maintaining the copper lines between nodes and premises. Its latest corporate plan was full of warnings that degraded copper connections could delay the roll out and increase overall costs.

"The quality of this [copper] network is not fully known as there has been limited opportunity to evaluate the physical infrastructure at significant scale," it states.

NBN chief executive Bill Morrow also revealed Telstra did not release any information about the copper network until after the $11 billion deal was renegotiated.

"If there is a case to where the copper is just in such poor condition that we can't offer the speeds that the government has made us commit to, then we won't use copper in that area. If it means pulling in fibre or fixed wireless towers, that's what we'll do," he said on August 24.

Unlike the NBN started under Labor, which planned to replace the copper connections with end-to-end fibre at 93 per cent of premises, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has asked NBN Co to redesign the network to include the copper connection at millions of premises. About 4 million households and businesses would now get a boosted copper connection, while the remainder getting fibre, cable, satellite or fixed wireless.

As at 3 March 2016, almost two and a half years after the Liberals and Nationals introduced their supposedly ‘new, improved and cheaper’ National Broadband Network (NBN) the three-year construction plan for Angourie, Freeburn Island, Iluka, Wooloweyah and Yamba is seemingly no longer relevant and there appears to be no plan to connect most of the Northern Rivers to NBN via Fibre To The Node in the foreseeable future.

Given the aging population on the NSW Far North Coast, many of us may die still waiting for Malcolm Turnbull’s 'innovative' version of the NBN.

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