NBNCo has just finished building out the NBN and now we’re about to spend billions to rebuild it – let’s call it, NBN phase 2.
The Government has announced they are now going to roll the trucks back down residential streets to roll fibre to more locations, exactly what anyone with common sense has been saying from the start.
It was bleeding obvious to most people that Australia needed to be connected via fibre, not copper, to support future growth. Unfortunately our politicians got so invested in fighting the opposition, they locked into a strategy that has ultimately failed.
While Australia has faster internet than it did a decade ago, our needs have increased faster and relative to the rest of the world, we’ve actually gone backwards.
The second phase of the NBN rollout will happen by 2023 and will see $4.5 billion borrowed from the private sector market.
Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said the plan is also expected to create 25,000 jobs over the next two years, across industries including construction, engineering, transport and project management.
While creating jobs is usually a positive, this is work that has been artificial created by a mixed-mode policy failure. Building the NBN should have been done once in a generation, with fibre, the first time.
The NBN upgrade will include an expansion of the Fibre To The Node (FTTN), Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) and Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC), by building “local fibre networks”. This means NBNCo will roll the fibre down the street, but then the fibre lead into the home will only be built when there’s a customer order.
What’s not being discussed is the cost to the customer to do this. If a customer decides to upgrade from FTTN of FTTC to FTTP, that expense will be born by you, not NBN.
Unfortunately this political football between the Coalition and Labor Governments has landed us in this multi-technology mix. This left many Australians on connections that were technology constrained.
The big opportunity with fibre, is that you reach a point where a customer’s connection is determined by their budget, not by the technology. We missed that opportunity and now we’re paying to fix that.
Federal Labor has described the plan as a “wasteful backflip” and they’re right. This was perfectly predictable, but the unfortunate outcome is that we’re here now in 2020 and it needs fixing.
The NBN Weekly Progress report, last updated on Sept 10th, shows 11,801,412 are ready to connect, while 7,575,150 have activated an NBN service. This still leaves a massive gap where customers could upgrade to the NBN, but for one reason or another, haven’t.
The active connections are made up of:
- Wireless – 328,027
- Satellite – 104,936
- Greenfields (mostly FTTP) – 597,725
- Browfields (mostly FTTN/FTTC/HFC) – 6,544,462
While the exact numbers on HFC and FTTP aren’t broken out, a vast majority of Australians ended up on less than the best connection. What’s most dissapointing is that we’re better than this, or at least we should be.
Australia prides itself on our prowess in technology and stand tall on the world stage, but this project has brought out the worst of us and as bad as the wasted billions is, it’s the time sync that’s the big failure.
We need to dream big and imagine the future, when I do, I see one that travels at the speed of light, with no artificial constraints. Whether it’s business applications or watching multiple 8K TVs in your house, we need to set Australians free and give them the internet they deserve.
More at ABC News.