In his blog of 5 April, Paul Budde suggests that the NBN company needs support to help it overcome the stumbling block of Malcolm Turnbull who seems unwilling to reconsider the mistake he made on the NBN as Communications Minister in the Abbott government. See Paul Budde’s article below. See also link to article http://www.buddeblog.com.au/frompaulsdesk/nbn-company-needs-support-to-pursue-fttdp/
With the election campaign starting to kick in, it is only a matter of time before the Opposition starts talking about the NBN again.
Looking at statements that the Opposition Minister for Communication Jason Clare has made over the last year or so it is clear that Labor will pursue an NBN that will maximise the FttH route. In all reality this will mean deployingFTTdp (also called thin fibre) to people’s doorsteps and then using the copper cable or the last bit of conduit, which is already owned by the NBN company, to provide the last few meters of fibre connection. One could assume that this last bit is left to the home owner in order to make it work financially.
Obviously there will be a problem with those premises already linked to an FttN system. FttN can indeed provide superior broadband access (100Mb+) so there is no immediate need to upgrade and the obstructing nodes can be eliminated at a later stage. Obviously there will be an issue with writing off the costs of these stranded assets.
The HFC network is a completely different kettle of fish, and the problems of this infrastructure have been discussed in a recent analysis. It will be more difficult to deploy FTTdp here if the NBN company starts to upgrade the HFC network in order to use the multi-technology mix version of the NBN.
My bet is that an Opposition NBN policy will work through the situation in the way I have mentioned above.
What does this mean for the Coalition government? As Bill Morrow has clearly indicated, he likes the FTTdp network, and he also indicated that the ball is in the court of the Prime Minister to decide how to proceed with the NBN.
Reading between the lines, looking at the body language of the CEO, and taking into account the ongoing stream of leaks that are coming out of the NBN company, it is clear to me that there is a significant force at play in the company, trying to nudge the NBN more and more in the direction of a full fibre network.
Obviously these good people within the company will need the support of those who can influence the political situation.
A major stumbling block will be the PM himself, as he has basically put his name on the line for the second-rate multi-technology mix as it is rolled out at the moment; and in his already vulnerable political position it will be very hard for him to backflip on the issue. As mentioned before, I can see a way out, as FTTdp still can be classified as a multi-mix technology but I am not sure is that is enough to persuade the PM to open the door to using FTTdp rather than FttN.
Of course much of this also depends on how hard the Opposition is going to push on the NBN in its election campaign. If it stays soft on the issue it becomes more difficult for the NBN company to push its FTTdp deployment further into the market.
Obviously anybody in favour of a better NBN can assist in trying to use the political cycle to promote the use of a full fibre network through their community, industry, political and media connections.
There is now a chance for us to ensure that Australia will get a much more future-proof NBN and we should not miss the opportunity to at least try and make this happen.
Paul Smith in the AFR also points to concern by NBN staff and executives about delays in broadband rollout and failure of the government to embrace fibre to the premises.