Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has just announced the election date, September 7th. Doing it in style, @kevinruddmp posted an image to Instagram with an accompanying tweet. One of the biggest election issues will be the NBN of which both parties have significantly different policies.
The technology differences is often poorly explained by mass media, so look for the politicians to try and simplify the message over the next month. Both policies involve replacing a lot of the old copper network with fibre optics, the biggest difference being that Labor’s NBN plan rolls fibre right to your house, while the coalition is just to the node. This difference in strategy has a dramatic difference in the complexity and time of the build, but also the resulting speeds possible.
Labor plans to build the FTTP network by 2021 and will achieve up to 1Gbps across 93% of the population, with the rest covered with fixed wireless and satellite technology. Currently NBN plans max out at 100Mbps, but NBNCo have announced 1Gbps plans will start in November (post election). The estimated price tag for Labor’s NBN is $43 Billion dollars. Labor are approaching this as a build it once, build it right. The advantage of this model is that it will ensure that ideas are not limited by the technology.
The Coalition’s FTTN plan means nodes will need to be established every 500 meters or so where the fiber terminates and existing copper is used into consumers homes. This decreases the timeframe required to build the NBN to the end of 2016 and the budget of $29.5 Billion. Greenfield estates and densely populated areas containing around 2 million premises would still be connected by fiber. The minimum download speed has been set as 25Mbps and NBNCo would actually compete with existing HFC networks providers for customers. The disadvantage of this model is that it is a temporary solution, meaning that at some point in the future (could be 10+ years away) the government of the day would need to ask Australians to put their hands in there pocket again to build the fiber from the node to the premises.
Whichever political side you fall on, please make your decision knowing that this technology infrastructure project is incredibly important to the future of not your own life, but to Australia. It’s unfortunate that we only get one vote given that there are so many important issues, but the NBN policy will have the single biggest impact on my life and the best policy will get my vote.