Abbott will cancel NBN fibre: Conroy

Abbott will cancel NBN fibre: Conroy

Summary: The government has warned that over 1 million NBN fibre connections in areas where construction has commenced are at risk if the Coalition wins the September federal election.


Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has said that over 1 million premises currently scheduled to get fibre to the premises (FttP) in the next three years on the National Broadband Network (NBN) will miss out under the Coalition's alternative proposal.

NBN Co has close to 5 million premises in its sights for construction of the NBN out to mid-2016 under the updated three-year rollout plan. This includes 1.3 million new premises in 190 different towns and suburbs that are now expected to have construction commenced or completed by June 2016.

Conroy announced the updated rollout plan at an event in Blacktown, Western Sydney, on Sunday. The event was said to mark the first NBN services being activated in Sydney; however, the service has already been activated in new housing estates in parts of Western Sydney already. Sunday's announcement was the first connection of the service to existing, or "brownfields", premises.

Conroy warned that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott would "cancel" the construction of the NBN to these new premises should he win the September federal election.

"Tony Abbott's plan is to leave 9 million Australian homes disconnected from Labor's NBN, and this is going to create a digital divide across suburbs, across cities, and across all of Australia," he said. "You will have Labor's NBN with gigabyte [sic] capacity, and Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott's NBN delivering you a second-rate broadband network, but still spending AU$20 billion, and still borrowing nearly AU$30 billion for a second-rate network."

The opposition's NBN policy, released last month, would see 22 percent of Australian premises (2.8 million) continue to get fibre to the premises, while 71 percent will get fibre to the node (FttN) and will have to continue to use the existing copper line to their premises. NBN Co would remain the wholesale provider of services on that network, but users would not be able to get the 100Mbps speeds that the full fibre service offers.

While Turnbull has said that he will honour existing contracts that are in place with NBN Co, Conroy's statements on Sunday suggest that Turnbull's plan would not include all of the premises currently scheduled for construction by 2016.

"So these 1.3 million homes that will be built in 2015 to 2016, this will only happen if a Labor government is re-elected in September."

In the Coalition's background document, 2.8 million premises will continue to receive fibre to the premises, but the vast majority of these (1.6 million) will be new housing estates. Of the 1.2 million remaining, the policy only budgets for 565,000 existing premises, scheduled to be completed by June 2014, to continue getting the full fibre services — far fewer than what it has been suggested NBN Co is currently contracted for.

Turnbull's office had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.

The use of the term "construction commenced or completed" in describing areas set to get the NBN has been labelled as misleading by Turnbull. The term indicates construction that is either in planning, underway, or completed. An area specified to be in the three-year rollout plan could be waiting 18 months from the time NBN Co indicates that construction has commenced before they are able to connect to the NBN.

For example, NBN Co has said that construction had commenced or been completed for 784,592 premises at the end of December 2012; however, the company's June 30, 2013, target for the number of premises that will actually be able to connect to the fibre service will be between 200,000 and 220,000, Conroy said on Sunday.

NBN Co has set up a site for people to check to see whether they are included in the three-year rollout plan.

The new suburbs include:

New South Wales

  • Albion Park

  • Bankstown

  • Barham-Koondrook

  • Batemans Bay

  • Batlow

  • Bawley Point

  • Bellingen

  • Belmont

  • Bermagui

  • Berowra

  • Berridale

  • Bombala

  • Bondi

  • Branxton-Greta

  • Bulahdelah

  • Canowindra

  • Cessnock-Bellbird

  • Clarence Town

  • Como

  • Cooma

  • Coraki

  • Culcairn

  • Deniliquin

  • Dorrigo

  • Dungog

  • Edensor Park

  • Evans Head

  • Finley

  • Frenchs Forest

  • Gilgandra

  • Gunnedah

  • Hornsby

  • Howlong

  • Jindabyne

  • Kellyville

  • Kempsey

  • Kooringal

  • Macksville

  • Maclean

  • Manilla

  • Mona Vale

  • Moruya

  • Moss Vale

  • Murrurundi

  • Murwillumbah

  • Narooma

  • North Parramatta

  • Petersham

  • Quirindi

  • Ramsgate

  • Raymond Terrace

  • Shoalhaven Heads

  • Singleton

  • South West Rocks

  • Sydney

  • Springwood

  • Tocumwal

  • Tumbarumba

  • Tumut

  • Tuross Heads

  • Ulladulla

  • Uralla

  • Urunga

  • Walcha

  • Williamtown

  • Woodburn

  • Yamba


  • Agnes Water

  • Airlie Beach

  • Albany Creek

  • Ayr

  • Babinda

  • Bells Bridge

  • Booral

  • Bowen

  • Boyne Island

  • Burleigh Heads

  • Burrum Heads

  • Cardwell

  • Childers

  • Collinsville

  • Cooktown

  • Coorparoo

  • Crows Nest

  • Gympie

  • Herberton

  • Highfields

  • Howard

  • Innisfail

  • Lammermoor

  • Landsborough

  • Malanda

  • Maleny

  • Maryborough

  • Mission Beach

  • Mossman

  • Murgon

  • Oakey

  • Proserpine

  • Rainbow Beach

  • Ravenshoe

  • Redland Bay

  • Sherwood

  • Sunshine Coast Caloundra

  • Sunshine Coast Noosa

  • Tin Can Bay

  • Toorbul

  • Toowong

  • Tully

  • Wondai

  • Wonga Beach

  • Woodford

  • Woodgate


  • Anglesea

  • Ballan

  • Beaufort

  • Beechworth

  • Castlemaine

  • Chiltern

  • Clunes

  • Coburg

  • Craigieburn

  • Daylesford

  • Dimboola

  • Elmore

  • Garfield

  • Glen Iris

  • Heathcote

  • Heidelberg

  • Heyfield

  • Kooyong

  • Kyneton

  • Lang Lang

  • Maldon

  • Mirboo

  • North Moreland

  • Nathalia Newport

  • North Melbourne

  • Numurkah

  • Oakleigh

  • Point Cook

  • Portarlington

  • Romsey

  • Rushworth

  • Rye

  • Shoreham

  • Sunbury

  • Tallangatta

  • Thomastown

  • Trentham

  • Warburton

  • Winchelsea

  • Woori Yallock

South Australia

  • Barmera

  • Beachport

  • Berri

  • Brighton

  • Ceduna

  • Glenunga

  • Lyndoch

  • Millicent

  • Minlaton

  • Mount Gambier

  • Naracoorte

  • Penola

  • Port Lincoln

  • Renmark

  • Robe

  • Salisbury

  • Stansbury

  • Tumby Bay

  • Waikerie

  • Yorketown

Western Australia

  • Augusta

  • Broome

  • Cowaramup

  • Derby

  • Dunsborough

  • Ellenbrook

  • Esperance

  • Glenfield

  • Jandakot

  • South Margaret River

  • Norseman

  • Quinns Rocks

  • Spearwood

  • Wickham

  • York

The NBN rollout in Tasmania and the Northern Territory is scheduled to be completed in 2015, so no new suburbs were announced.

Topic: NBN


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Well ahead on "construction commenced"

    Sadly that's all.

    If labor is re-elected those communities shouldn't expect to much. Rather than the 5,000 premises a day talk it's currently connecting that a month.

    But sorry to inject any reality, great job NBNCo;-)
    Richard Flude
    • It's coming

      Yes Richard, your fellow obsessive ideological fanatics will be our next government and we will watch them cripple Australia's essential national communications infrstructure with a second rate limited lifespan imitation NBN that they will sell or privatise ASAP, so there will mnever be any upgrade, what we get is all the majority of Australia will ever get as private sector puts money before the economy or the National interest.

      We will be applying the magnifying glass and blowtorch to the GIMPCo management and the LNP's management as they screw it all up.

      Want to do an inquisition and witch hunt, look at those responsible Telstra and the Prime Contractors
      Abel Adamski
      • So now the private sector can't deliver internet?

        For the vast majority of Australians the failure of comms in this country has undeniably been government (Telecom, three amigo's, Telstra sale without proper retail/wholesale separation to maximise value, ineffective pro-competition stance).

        Then the NBN announcement killed all private investment; yet 6 years later we have nothing.

        NBNCo by any measure has been a massive failure. "Obsessive ideological fanatics" are those that see past the spin, exposing the reality.

        Apply the blowtorch post sept to whoever is in power; as will I. You clowns predict the failure of the NBNLite (technologies used today in other parts of the world) yet apologise for NBNCo failures (blaming others).

        NBNCo failures were entirely predictable; said so at the time. The confederacy of dunces shouted us down. These same clowns squawk about the quality of copper, unsuitability of HFC, planned acid attacks on the networks.

        Labor had 6 years to do something, they failed. Get out of the way; the age of entitlement is ending, the good times are collapsing.
        Richard Flude
        • Richard,

          I'd almost bring myself to agree with you except I've taken a look at the ACCC's report on the privatised airports in which the biggest criticism is lack of investment. What assurances can you give that the NBN will not go down the same path??
          • What?

            I'm happy to talk about airports, but a ACCC report into airports has absolutely zero relevance to comms.

            The assurance for investment is there's plenty of money to be made. HFC, FTTN & fixed wireless are competing technologies. Let a competitive market sort it out and take the snouts out of the taxpayer's funded trough.
            Richard Flude
        • But Liberal is WORSE!

          "Labor had 6 years to do something, they failed".

          I actually (for once) agree with a lot of your post. But I DO NOT agree they've failed. They only WILL fail if (when?) Liberal gets in. The problems we are in ARE caused by government. Telstra SHOULD indeed have been separated into wholesale and retail properly, you are 100% spot on.

          Fact is this is what has happened. We are now third last on the developed country list of average internet speeds. 25th of top 50 countries (developed and underdeveloped). South Korea leads the way with 8 x quicker on AVERAGE, countries like Japan all way ahead of us. ALL HAVE FTTH networks available.

          Mate you MUST agree we will keep going further behind the rest of the world by not taking this drastic step NOW while we can.

          How about YOU and your kind step out of the way and let Australia prosper? Let multi location offices have their 40Mbps+ have their VPN links allowing them to work as a whole far reducing costs? Let mothers on maternity leave log in at work and perform as if they are in the office. Let small business host their own mail/web server and not spend thousands of dollars a year paying for hosting. Reduce our health costs by having remote diagnostic capabilities, maybe even save lives. Allow more IPTV competition so people are not paying $50 per month minimum to Foxtel and like corporations per month to watch the footie live, but can just select to watch what they want on demand at super competitive price as the delivery mechanism is taken care of. Allow our software developers to deliver their own content without having to pay a distribution network and/or publishers. Let Australia create, produce and prosper without crippling them with unavailability of these services or high costs. Distributed University courses live from home will allow far less costs to higher education in infrastructure, even build stronger competition as some courses may not even need physical buildings allowing other qualified professors and lecturers to prosper without all the faculty requirements and travel. The longer I go on the more things I keep thinking of. I'll stop now.

          Just because you still can't see the benefits, does NOT mean they are not there.

          Australia is currently being hobbled by short-sightedness. Yours included. Now, to me, you aren't all that important. There are admittedly quite a number of you.

          Unfortunately MT shares your view. Australia will suffer greatly for it.
          • 6 years, a few thousand connections isn't failure?

            How much money do they get to spend? How many targets (even those revised downwards) missed? When does it get called a failure by the cheerleaders?

            You think we're falling behind Asia because of average download speeds?

            Australia prospers because of people like me; working diligently in the private sector to create value. Not because of "mother's on maternity leave", not because small business can't host their servers in-house (they can and do it today; technical knowledge the only barrier) and they aren't paying thousands a year for hosted services, IPTV content is NOT going to be free. If you want to study from home you can do so now; plenty of courses on offer.

            You've not listed a single benefit of spending $60+b on FTTP, not one.

            Our shortsightedness is a product of having to pay for these expensive follies. We've had enough.

            Australia suffers not because they're too many of us, but because there's too few.
            Richard Flude
          • 6 years, a few thousand connections isn't failure?

            10 years with John Howard even ignoring his own panels advice to come up with an FTTN is a success?

            And now they want to go back to 2001 and actually take that panels advice, even though Telstra isn't a government controlled incumbent?

            The problem with the current NBN roll-out is easily fixed with 457's and/or training

            FTTN should have been started back in the 90's when conditions were right for it, not present day where telcos that did use FTTN back then are now upgrading it to FTTP.
          • Please stick to the zoo, dude!

            The arrogance of this rude Flude really peeves me.

            They say: "Just because you still can't see the benefits, does NOT mean they are not there."

            Flude spewed: "You've not listed a single benefit of spending $60+b on FTTP, not one."

            Just because you were born does not mean that your brain can allow you to listen to others. Simple repetition of the flawed mantra is not proof that you have achieved zen. Rude deluded Flude, who'd misconstrued, intruded with misargued attitude.
          • Are there any benefits of FTTP?

            Flude asked for a positive use of the NBN.

            1. Decreased latency, which will improve the ability of smaller traders to execute stock trades.
            2. You would be able to store daily computer backups in the Cloud, meaning that you can fix any problems that might get caused when updates go wrong
            3. Uploading skateboarding video to sharing sites like Vimeo or YouTube won't take nearly as long, so it could be done daily to build up a reputation
            4. The Internet is Australia's second largest industry in terms of dollars. With the affordances of reduced latency and higher speeds for uploads and downloads, emergent Internet businesses can become Australia's largest industry.
            5. Gigabit ethernet is a radical improvement for telecommuting, which implies that if many Aussies stop driving every day, we can stop paying the exhorbitant fees for road crews that require billions of annual expenditure on improving roads.
            6. "Improved data connections makes entirely new services possible to a far greater reach."
            7. "Reliable, high speed broadband is critically important to our business. Prior to the NBN, we were unable to demonstrate our HD video conferencing technology at its full capacity. Previously we had a connection which would only allow us to connect to one site at a standard resolution.

            "Since being connected to NBN we now routinely achieve speeds of 95Mbps down/36Mbps up2. Sending large email attachments, downloading files, transferring files to customers - all complete in just seconds, not hours. We run all of our telephones on VoIP now too - generating huge cost savings and the voice quality is excellent."
            - Sam Dawes, Director, Teleheath Connect, Brunswick, VIC
            8. You just can't stream HD quality video to the Internet unless you have high upload speeds. An upload speed like 7 Mbps that is close to the maximum upload speed of your network is not sufficient because it will congest your network.
            9. I live in a unit. Although I enjoy watching ABC iView, there is occasional buffering and the video quality is too low. I'd like to be able to watch high definition TV on iView on demand, but my Internet connection can't support it. I have ADSL+ at 16 Mbps.
            10. You could watch multiple HD streams of sporting events at the same time.
            11. A small business could run their whole phone system using Internet phone that allowed 2 or 20 or 2000 different phone calls at the same time.
            12. When making a purchasing decision between multiple types of software, it becomes feasible to comparison test by downloading a half dozen trial applications (many of which are gigabyte size) and test them in the span of a couple hours.
            13. Improved gaming, with lower latency making interaction much more responsive.
            14. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) will be much more efficient, making working from home easier and more secure.
            15. Sharing files with colleagues can be done in an instant, rather than taking an hour or two.
            16. Asian tourists will stop spurning Australia as a travel destination because of the pitiful Internet speeds.
            17. Instead of making wild conjectures about the NBN we would be able to rapidly source facts from the Internet and compile them at world-record speeds. Thus we would not need to apologise for being wrong. And we won't have to feel our cheeks burning when the costings for FTTN turn out to be bull.

            In conclusion, faster Internet not only means that people can increase the definition of the data as consumers, but it will also allow more people and businesses to be producers. This requires better latency and significantly higher upload speeds.
        • "Then the NBN announcement killed all private investment"

          When will Opticomm connect my premises?

          "yet 6 years later we have nothing."

          You have nothing? So you are against the NBN but complain when you don't have fibre?

          "Labor had 6 years to do something, they failed. "

          The coaltion had 12 years they not only failed they failed more than once. Their last attempt with OPEL was just plain embarrassing.

          "the good times are collapsing."

          Coalition disaster confirmed.
          Hubert Cumberdale
    • suprsed?

      This just in - Large scale construction takes longer than originally planned.

      I don't think I've ever seen anything built in it's original time frame. At least we're getting fiber - we'll be the envy of everyone else out there!
    • "If labor is re-elected those communities shouldn't expect to much."

      If the coaltion clowns win they shouldn't expect much either. Did you know they want to build a FttN network based on aging copper?
      Hubert Cumberdale
  • Labor

    people had no vote for Labor in election 2010, but Greens and three independent member helped form government...then Australia people have no mandate for Stephen Conroy does the NBN, it costs too much for tax pay, but the result is doubt. Comparative between Malcolm Turnbull, a successful business and Stephen Conroy who has not record about economic management, people trust Turbull, he concern NBN as business view, but Conroy wants to control media.
    hoa minh truong
    • Sorry hoa

      It is not costing the taxpayer as it is from borrowed money and will pay for itself, however the costing and time frame for the Coalition GIMPCo is political and is extremely doubtfull for time frame or cost and whether it will actually pay for itself due to higher operational costs and a limited product without high value options widely available to help pay the bill.
      Control the media?
      Please explain, you think it is ok to be misinformed, deceived even lied to.? I don't
      Abel Adamski
    • Turnbull's National Narrowband Network

      Malcolm Turnbull's main job skill is regurgitating the lies Abbot makes him tell. He *knows* that FttN is doomed to failure. It will max out at 25Mbps in the few streets where the old copper is in good nick. In most streets the copper is rotting, and will come nowhere close to that. 25Mpbs will be obsolete before the "system" is complete. Then it will cost several times more to rebuild the whole lot.

      Nations are not build on a business case. They are built on infrastructure and services that cannot be costed.
      • Rubbish

        I'm no apologist for the coalition, but the idea that DSL technology is already mature is nonsense. VDSL2 already is offering 100Mbps+ at reasonable distances 1000m+. Bring the cabinets to the street, and with G.Vector / Phantom mode and in the 2014 timeframe, 400Mbps down / 30M up is possible over a few hundred metres. Even that probably isn't the end for DSL, with potentially gigabit speeds when using bandwidth in the hundreds of Megahertz, and line lengths in the hundreds of metres.
        Andy Grace
    • Hate to break it to you but..

      When the 2010 election was finally counted, on a 2 party preferred basis Labor came slightly ahead.

      You have to ask yourself this. Do you trust a potential future government whose "policy" on broadband is not just absurd and unworkable, its actually a fraud. A fraud not in the sense of offering a second class network and delivering a third class network. Its a fraud in the sense of being (like direct action) an outright manipulation of voters. A "policy" that's there to distract you from what's actually absent - any sane policy. A smokescreen designed to make you feel "ok" to vote Liberal without telling you what they're really going to do - which is most likely to flog it off.
    • "but Conroy wants to control media."

      Oh dear, the tin-foil hat brigade is back.
      Hubert Cumberdale
  • What's Going on at ZDNet?

    Here's a major announcement from NBNCo, extending their rollout plan to many more suburbs and towns, and you publish under the heading "Abbott will cancel NBN fibre: Conroy". The Labor and Liberal spokesmen bad-mouthing each other is hardly news, but an extension to NBNCo's proposed rollout is!

    One disconcerting aspect of the announcement is that some of the areas won't see an actual start in construction until June 2017, which means that service won't be available until mid 2018. So maybe, rather thana revision to the 3-year plan it's more like an extension to a 5-year plan?