Coalition to reassess Huawei NBN ban

Coalition to reassess Huawei NBN ban

Summary: The Australian Federal Coalition has indicated that it might reconsider the ban on Huawei tendering for the NBN, should the Coalition win the next federal election in 2013.


Speaking in front of a sold-out crowd of telecommunications executives at an American Chamber of Commerce lunch in Sydney on Friday, Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull indicated that the Coalition will reassess a ban on Huawei tendering for the National Broadband Network (NBN) if the party wins the next federal election.

In March, it was revealed that the government had banned Huawei from tendering for any contracts with NBN Co, acting on the advice of security agencies. Several Freedom of Information (FOI) requests trying to find out the reason for this ban have so far been met with government blocks.

Turnbull said on Friday that the Coalition was not made privy to the reason why Huawei was banned, but said that a coalition government would reconsider the ban.

"The difficulty we have there is we are not privy to the advice the government has from the intelligence services. That was a very, very big decision to make, and I'm very conscious of the fact that the British Government has taken a very different approach to Huawei and Britain's security concerns you think would be just as intense as ours," he said. "All I can say is that we will look at that matter when we get into government, if we get into government, in light of the advice."

Of his 25-minute speech to telecommunications executives, including AAPT CEO David Yuile and executives from Telstra, Alcatel-Lucent and Optus, Turnbull spent 20 minutes criticising NBN Co's business plan.

"The latest corporate plan raises more questions than it provides answers. It demonstrates that the NBN is running behind schedule and over budget," he said. "And the fundamental flaws in the assumptions underpinning its business case are as serious as ever."

He devoted the last five minutes of his speech to his own policy.

"We say we are committed to completing the NBN. We know we cannot turn the clock back. We would not have asked an Australian government corporation to do this job, but it is there and it is underway, so our task is to complete the job in a cost-effective manner," he said.

Turnbull re-iterated previous statements that the Coalition would take a fibre-to-the-node (FttN) approach in many areas, adding that every network is ultimately an FttN network.

"You might think you're fibre-to-the-premises, but in fact you are fibre-to-the-node; it's just the node happens to be on the corner of your house, and you connect to a copper network in your house."

He said that the Coalition's NBN would be similar to the broadband network that British Telecom is rolling out in the United Kingdom.

"We will bring fibre farther into the field, we will connect it to the legacy copper infrastructure such that the length of copper is sufficient enough to obtain very high speeds to be delivered," he said.

"You save yourself so much time and labour by not having to disturb customer premises. That means we can say confidently that we can deliver very fast broadband to all Australians much sooner, and at a much lower cost to the taxpayer and therefore more affordably to customers."

The roll-out would continue while his government conducted a cost-benefit analysis on the best way to deliver broadband, he said.

"It's not going to create any delay. We will get moving. I think Australians have had enough of a delay. We will accelerate the roll-out of the NBN, but we will do that at the same time as a cost-benefit analysis," he said.

As the new communications minister, Turnbull said he would be a "rational business person".

"If you want to get an insight into the approach that I'll be taking as the minister, just ask yourself what a rational business person would do, and that's basically what I will do," he said.

Turnbull has in the past been critical of the money that's being invested in the NBN being listed as an asset in the budget, and thus not adding to the deficit. He has since backed away from this position, instead recently suggesting that the interest the government has to pay for obtaining that equity should be disclosed. He said that the Coalition would acknowledge the full cost of the NBN in government.

"What we would do is we would certainly disclose the full cost of it, and own up to the full cost of it, including the interest. I can't promise to change the public accounting, that's very different from the corporate accounting," he said.

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.

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  • No delays...?

    Do I read it correctly that Turnbull doesn't wish to cause any more delays?

    It would take at least a year or two for NBN Co to plan and test a new FTTN solution as well as negotiate everything with Telstra before they could even begin to do anything more than a small trial. This is exactly what has caused the delays to date!

    It just doesn't add up. A cost benefit analysis may well show the current scheme is good value.

    If you ask me, it'll go the same way as Myki in Victoria which was critisised by the opposition before they got into government. Largely kept intact with a few small changes.
  • Coalition Contradictions

    But Mr Abbott has said that foreign investment in Australia will be reigned in under a coalition government. Buying stuff from Huawei is close to direct investment in Australia given the central nature of the NBN to Australia's IT development over the next 50 years. Is Malcolm making his long-awaited run for the leadership? Geez I hope so.
  • why nbn?

    why do we need a NATIONAL broadband network? surely the same thing could have been achieved on a state by state basis. i know this is a pointless question since the roll out is well under way now...

    don't get me wrong - i'm a sysadmin and i can't wait for faster internet, but why was this ever a federal government scheme?
    • Australia Needs it

      It became a Federal Scheme because the private sector did not provide adequate broadband service nationally.
      Mark S-8ff5e
  • FTTN?

    So now he is trying to say that FTTH is actually FTTN? is he trying to add more FUD, or are they now slowly backing away from the FTTN plan and trying to brand our FTTH as FTTN?

    What the hell is Malcolm trying to do now?
    • Turnbull has just been reading my comments it seems:

      {By your logic I guess we can call the NBN a FTTN network too, the NTU is a node, how does that sound? You should be happy, isn’t this what you wanted; a FTTN network? The nodes will just happen to be inside houses… lol indeed.}

      Yep that's how low the coalition clowns have sunk in the NBN debate. They are using my year old facetious comments as an argument now. LOL! This confirms they are at least a year behind when it comes to anything.
      Hubert Cumberdale
      • Master T

        He read my comments from a couple of weeks back - Where I said that they were so wrong, that even Her Majesty's Government says they're wrong.

        Shortly after, it was in his speech to the press club.
      • Master T

        It'd seem my friend, we have a fan club.
        • VHA Back-haul

          FTTT would help out with your back-haul Master T.

          I am reading into this far toooo much. Multistory dwellings are the tough nut to crack as they have issues in Japan over this one. There solution was to place the node at the base of the building and if they wanted fibre all the way they would have to install it in their own building, maybe as a joint venture depending on scenarios. NBN job is to get premiss not each apartment in that building. Much like Water/Power/Gas.

          I agree with fibre to the node only in this scenario.
  • Turnbull being disingenuous again

    Every FTTH is really FTTN? Well, yes, even dialup is, taken to the foolish extreme. Then again, we *could* choose to 'wire' our houses with fibre all the way to the PC.
  • Turn-ball lies again:

    ""You might think you're fibre-to-the-premises, but in fact you are fibre-to-the-node; it's just the node happens to be on the corner of your house, and you connect to a copper network in your house.""

    Well... there's two massive flaws. First of this is a deliberate misinterpretation of FTTN. The FTTN that he's talking about achieves maybe 50Mbps. The [hypothetical] copper in my house can go as high as 10Gbps. This gross misrepresentation is a deliberate strategy to confuse the general public and deflect from his failings.

    The other big problem is his assertion that every house has, and will have copper! Why not have fiber or wireless in your house?

    How long can he mislead Australia before Australian's catch on?
  • rolleyes

    "You might think you're fibre-to-the-premises, but in fact you are fibre-to-the-node; it's just the node happens to be on the corner of your house, and you connect to a copper network in your house."

    So... Let me get this straight. It's NOT fibre to the premises, because there's a node IN your premises? Therefore it's fibre to the NODE (in your premises).

    So, that'd make it FTT(N^P), which is obviously better than plain old FTTP.

    For gods sake Turnbull, stop dribbling shit.
    Just stop. It's lame and it sounds desperate.
    Then again, from the douche-bag who attempted a political take-down with a fake email, what else can we expect?
    • Planning is obsolete.

      No one plans ahead any more. Look at all the Cat5 LAN cabling in buildings where, because 10 & 100 Mb/s didn't use all eight conductors, many piggy-backed the phone system through the same cables. Now that even home networks are looking at 1Gb/s, how costly will it be to re-wire so many office buildings because cost "cuts" were used in the first place?
    • FTT(N^P) is an NP problem

      "So, that'd make it FTT(N^P)," which we all know can't be completed efficiently.
  • And the other Turnbull soundbyte.

    "We don't know why the government blocked Huawei but we're going to reassess it anyway." - Because, We are the Coalition that says Ni! (I mean no)
    • Commie plot eh?

      Yeah the anti NBN brigade keep telling us the big bad government monopoly NBN is nothing more than a Labor/commie plot and this just proves it...

      Oh wait...
  • More of the Same

    "If you want to get an insight into the approach that I'll be taking as the minister, just ask yourself what a rational business person would do, and that's basically what I will do,"

    Yep, we'll be able to supply the minimum product for the maximum profit via our monopoly.
    • Yeah, right.

      We'll use the taxpayers' money to build the thing, and then we'll sell it back to them in the name of "privatization".
  • Sophistry at its worst

    Copper over short-runs can do 10Gbps (cat-6a, twin-ax). Tell you what, Turnbull, you figure out a way of doing 10Gbps over 4km through untwisted copper, and we'll admit you're right about NBN and accept FTTN as a solution. Can't do that? Then shut the fluff up, idiot.
  • Completely useless statements

    Im not sure what the takeaway from this is, they might do something... but dont know why they were excluded from the tender process. Possibly ASIO et all provided a recommendation.

    Now to this crap about FTTN, the copper network is horrifically maintained, utilising FTTN my network speeds would not improve. The crappy copper network in my area can barely manage 3000kbp on ADSL2 because its a paired line (all the houses on the street share a line). Im not sure how Turnbulls plan would provide ANY increase in speed for most people.

    The whole point of FTTH was that I can install fiber direct to my machine if I see fit, I am in control of what happens on my property. If I could have the copper in the street replaced I would.