NBN predictions update

Just before the election I made my NBN predictions. Less than two weeks after the election there is some speculation that my 5% chance option 1 – continue with FTTP – may happen. Although I didn’t include the use of fibre-to-the-basement (FTTB) as an option for apartments and other MDUs such as shopping centres in this option, the Coalition plan was always to include FTTP in areas where the NBN was already committed, ‘greenfields’ sites and other locations where the copper needed too much remediation. So I will fudge it a bit and say that it was implied 😉

Just before the election I did head Malcolm Turnbull say on 702 Sydney words to the effect that ‘no one doubts the technological superiority of FTTP, but it shouldn’t be done at any price’. This struck me as quite a departure from his prior position which was ‘FTTP isn’t needed'; he was emphasising cost and not FTTN being a suitable technology.

For what its worth I think that FTTB is a reasonable approach to MDUs – the copper runs are likely to be relatively short and relatively new. An on-demand extension of FTTH from a basement is more likely to be both feasible and cost-effective than a couple of hundred meters down the road from a node to a house.

As others have observed a truly independent review would be hard-pressed to find that FTTN makes sense as a long-term solution for the delivery of a data network and given that the bulk of the cost will be labour any savings will be illusory in the long-term.

2 comments

  1. Malcolm still has a lot of ground to make up on his anti-FTTP stance of the last few years, and while the softening of his language is encouraging, I’m still not getting too excited about it yet.
    Consdering the leaked report basically destroyed all his prior arguments against FTTP, and his response was that he didn’t believe it, kind of tells me he’s not going to fold easily on this.
    I agree that FTTB is a good option to allow for MDU’s, with FTTP where it’s simple enough to do so.
    I shudder to think what will happen if he follows through on the “allow competition” point of his plan though as the cherry-picking and fragmentation of technologies and providers will create a real dog’s breakfast.
    I’m just going to wait to see what form the 60-day review takes (i.e. how much “direction” or interference is forced on it) and then his response.

  2. I agree it isn’t exactly a ‘backflip’ yet (and considering in backflip you end up facing the same way as you started they should really stop using that term).

    The cherry-picking is also a concern – the announcement by TPG that they intend to do FTTB is one example. If this does eventuate it will be interesting to see what counts as a network extension and what doesn’t. If it is a network extension then wholesale access cannot be declared. I have seen suggestions that TPGs plan would be an extension to the PIPE network, but I suspect that since PIPE does not currently offer retail Internet services to consumers that this isn’t really the case – It would probably end up in court and delay things even more.

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