NBN: Labor to offer ‘greater proportion of fibre’, still not sold on FTTN

Shorten offers hints about the NBN policy Labor will take to the election

Labor leader Bill Shorten has offered new hints at the shape of the NBN policy that his party will take to the election.

“What we will do is we will have a greater proportion of fibre in our solution on NBN,” Shorten said during an interview with ABC Radio. “We’re not going to rip up everything the Liberals have done,” he added.

Labor wouldn’t “start again at scratch,” Shorten said.

However the National Broadband Network under a Labor government would have “much more fibre,” he said. The opposition leader added that Labor is not satisfied that “just sending it to the node is a sufficient solution”.

Earlier this year, in an address to the CommsDay Summit in Sydney, shadow communications minister Jason Clare hinted that Labor may be willing to embrace fibre to the distribution point (FTTdp) as an alternative to fibre to the node (FTTN).

Currently FTTN is one of the key fixed-line technologies slated to be used in the ‘multi-technology mix’ NBN rollout, alongside hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) and fibre to the premises (FTTP). Labor’s original vision would have seen FTTP rolled out to households in the NBN fixed-line footprint.

FTTdp involves a much shorter length of copper to connect an end user compared to FTTN. FTTP involves hooking households up directly to fibre.

“NBN Co has now conceded that the cost of rolling out fibre to the pit out the front of your house is now almost the same cost as fibre to the node,” Clare said in his speech.

“The difference is currently about $400. According to NBN Co fibre to the node is now $1600 per home and the cost of fibre to the pit out the front of your house (fibre to the distribution point) is $2000 per home.

“The capex is a bit more; the opex is a bit less – remember no nodes, no extra copper, no extra copper maintenance, no electricity bills. And remember this doesn’t count the cost of coming back years later and rolling out more fibre in fibre to the node areas.”

“The big difference is what the customer gets,” Labor’s broadband spokesperson said. “And the difference here is massive.”

“Fibre to the driveway provides download speeds that are up to 10 times faster than Malcolm Turnbull’s fibre to the node network. Given this – if NBN Co can roll out fibre to almost your front door for almost the same cost as fibre to the node and give you much higher speeds – why aren’t they doing it?”

As with Shorten's latest comments, Clare didn't mention HFC. The original plan for the NBN would have seen the HFC networks shut down.

NBN has previously announced it is investigating the potential of FTTdp to hook up a minority of premises.

In its application this month to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to vary its Special Access Undertaking (SAU), NBN sought to ensure there was scope to potentially include FTTdp as a future access technology. The SAU governs NBN’s operations as a wholesaler provider of network access.

NBN CEO Bill Morrow has said that desktop high-level analysis had shown FTTdp might potentially be employed for around 300,000 premises as an alternative to FTTN or fixed wireless.

“The reality with fibre to the distribution point is that it is still in the very early stages of its development,” Morrow said during a Senate Estimates hearing in May.

“We are intending to go forward. We have plans in place to where we are going to do more of an actual field trial of building using both the skinny fibre and the fibre-to-the-distribution-point technology. We will learn a bit more from that around what the costs are and what the true applications are.

“At the same time we will look at our IT systems, the network release systems, that have to be put in place and we will begin to work with the retail service providers on the changes that they need. But realistically, on the chances of this getting deployed in a commercial fashion, it is not going to be before the end of next year.”

“I think it will be another tool available to us as a part of the mix. I think that with this technology-agnostic, ‘get access to everybody as soon as possible’, ‘make sure we keep the tax to the taxpayer as low as possible' focus — and therefore we do have a reasonable internal rate of return — fibre to the distribution point will play a role,” Morrow said.

Follow Rohan on Twitter: @rohan_p

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags NetworkingNational Broadband Network (NBN)national broadband networkgovernmentbroadband

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Rohan Pearce

Rohan Pearce

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?