Another ‘Rant About The NBN’

Over the course of the past three years, I have posted the following facts and statements on a number of Facebook group pages, with respect to the project known as The Australian National Broadband Network, or ‘NBN’.

(1) If you haven’t got a full fibre to the premises (FTTP) connection at your house today, or you’re not slated to have a full FTTP network built in your suburb within the next two years, serve yourself right for ignoring what’s been going on in this country since the NBN was first announced during the 2007 Federal Election. By not rallying the community around you together and constantly pressuring NBNCo to install FTTP in your suburb, you have essentially poured your own money and that of your neighbours down a sewer. With the installation of fibre to the node (FTTN) networks, what the government is buying with your tax dollars can be classified as nothing other than SHIT.

(2) No FTTN network similar to what has already been rolled out across many parts of the country so far can ever achieve the speeds which a full FTTP gigabit passive optical network (GPON) is capable of, end of story. The physical limitations of the hardware, and the way Very-high-bit-rate Digital Subscriber Line (VDSL2) networks actually work, prevent downstream/upstream speeds higher than approximately 400 megabits per second, even on a relatively powerful computer that’s within the shortest distance to it’s nearest ‘node box’.

(3) Since the project was first mooted in 2006 by (then) Shadow Communications Minister Stephen Conroy (ALP), both the Labor and LNP governments chose to build the NBN network with the assistance of the two major privately owned telecoms providers, Telstra and Optus. The wholesale arm of the NBN, which determines the pricing of Customer Virtual Circuits at its set speed tiers, uses Telstra-owned Points Of Interconnect (ie. a data’distribution centre’ similar to a telephone exchange) in several hundred locations across the country. NBNCo. are therefore bound by the exorbitant wholesale ‘backhaul’ prices set by Telstra. The ridiculous decisions regarding operational structure that have been made by NBNCo. management have resulted in an extremely poor quality of service overall, and much higher retail pricing for consumers, for a telecoms service we taxpayers have already forked out far too much of our money to build.

(4) Turnbull’s plan to save money on deploying the NBN using outdated technologies, in collusion with private telecoms providers, was doomed to fail from Day One. Independent analysis has concluded that, over the last three years, it has actually cost taxpayers more to deploy and maintain a given suburb’s FTTN installation than if the same area were connected to a full fibre GPON. This is due to the excessive costs involved in bringing the existing infrastructure to a level of serviceability, and the high ongoing operational and maintenance costs of FTTN, such as electrical power to each ‘node box’, just to provide consumers with relatively consistent speeds of up to 100 megabits per second ONLY.
From the moment a FTTP network is switched on it is capable of providing speeds of approximately 1000 megabits per second, both downstream and upstream, whilst a much higher number of customers are physically using the network. FTTP networks also do not require anywhere near the same levels of ongoing maintenance, the infrastructure will cost far less to upgrade in future, and the Fibre Distribution Hubs in the street do not need electricity to operate.

(5) Since taking office in 2013, the LNP have paid in excess of $15 billion of taxpayers money to Optus and Telstra, for the purchase of what is essentially 25 year old telecoms hardware. In a large number of locations, this hardware has needed to be completely replaced, with the taxpayer again footing the bill for new equipment and cabling. At the same time the LNP Government handed Telstra a five year contract (with an option to extend for a further three years) to remediate the infrastructure NBNCo. had purchased, and to maintain the FTTN networks as they are deployed. The entire contract was reported to be $800 million – all to build a network that would only ever be capable of speeds not much faster than 100 megabits per second downstream on a good day.

(6) At the time, Malcolm Turnbull had (and may still have) fiduciary interests in companies that had deployed similar FTTN technologies throughout Europe and the United Kingdom. Sadly, when he was told (as Communications Minister) by experts from across the world that such a network could never deliver the same speeds or levels of reliability as a full fibre network, at the same or possibly higher price than Labor’s FTTP plan, he went ahead with his Multi Technology Mix anyway to ensure those companies remained profitable. Turnbull even had Communications Minister Mitch Fifield lead a delegation of NBNCo. management on a first class junket to America, where they publicly denounced the extraordinarily brilliant 1000 megabits per second full FTTP Google Fiber network, and declared the fibre to the node plan the LNP had was far superior. In the meantime, while the Turnbull-Fifield FTTN they were waxing lyrical about was being deployed, Australia slipped from 30th fastest in the world for peak data transfer speeds to 60th, where it remains to this day!

(7) Ziggy Switkowski, a man very much ingrained in the management structure of NBNCo at the time the purchase of the Optus and Telstra-owned infrastructure was being negotiated, had a prior engagement as CEO of Telstra before joining the board of NBNCo. as Chief Executive Officer. At that time, Mr. Switkowski also held fiduciary interests in Telstra as a shareholder, as part of his ‘golden handshake’ from that company. This makes his involvement in the decision by NBNCo to pay Telstra $11.5 billion for parts of their existing network a clear cut conflict of interest.

(8) NBNCo’s current television advertising is in breach of the Australian Association of National Advertisers’ Code Of Ethics, because the technologies being deployed as part of the FTTN rollout are not exactly (as they claim in the advert) “new”, nor are they proving to be “reliable”. The number of complaints about ‘dropouts’ and other service failures grows by the day, as congestion, and the sheer volume of data being pushed around a network which could never support it, takes its toll.

The whole NBN Project reeks of graft, corruption and downright incompetence, and is beyond all doubt the largest single clusterfuck created by any federal government in the nation’s history. In the meantime, Australian households are being forced to pay twice as much per month for absolute garbage as retail customers in Singapore do for their unlimited data gigabit per second internet services. We here get one tenth the speed, and restricted to ridiculous 20th century data caps, while the rest of our trading partners across the globe speed off into the future. Australia is the laughing stock of the technology world, and the lunatics pretending to run the place certainly have a lot to answer for. Thing is, it’s the Australian taxpayer that is losing, and when the time comes to privatise – which you can be sure a Liberal government sometime in the next 25 years will want to do – the NBN will be worth two-fifths of a fucken dog turd, simply because…

With Thanks to Hairy…