NBN Co should focus on passing every premises: Hackett

NBN Co should focus on passing every premises: Hackett

Summary: New NBN Co board member Simon Hackett has said that while he prefers fibre to the premises as a network design for the NBN, the focus should be on getting high-speed broadband out to everyone in Australia.


In one of his first interviews since being appointed to the NBN Co board, Internode founder Simon Hackett has admitted that while he would like fibre to the premises, getting the National Broadband Network (NBN) out past every door should be the focus for the government-owned company.

Hackett's appointment to the NBN Co board last month was broadly welcomed by the industry and fibre-to-the-premises advocates. While Hackett had long been seen as a "constructive critic" of the NBN project, he has in the past pointed out methods for the company to speed up the rollout and cut costs, while avoiding a switch to a majority fibre-to-the-node model.

In an interview on ABC radio in Adelaide this morning, Hackett — who stepped down from his board member position at iiNet to join NBN Co — said that he has already attended one board meeting in person, and is set to attend another in the coming days ahead of the release of NBN Co's strategic review to the public.

While Hackett did not reveal the findings of the review, he said that at least some premises will continue to use the existing copper line in the future.

"I love fibre to the house, but I also love getting the NBN to everybody, so it is going to be a fascinating ride. We are right on the cusp of figuring those things out," he said.

Hackett said that the rate of the NBN fibre network construction has been below everyone's expectations, and that the recent removal of map data was not a sign that the new NBN Co is stopping the construction of the network.

"It's actually some very big promises that weren't very real were taken off to take it back to reality. What we're hoping is that in the next six months is things starting to go back on that list as we start to figure out what the new build order is," he said.

He also indicated that NBN Co would soon renegotiate with Telstra and Optus over their hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network deals in a way that could see the HFC networks opened up to wholesale access. He also indicated that NBN Co is not concerned that the AU$450 million TPG buyout of AAPT and its fibre transit network will lead to the company "cherry picking" by building fibre networks out in profitable areas.

Hackett said that is just a "legal and normal way to operate" for a telecommunications company.

"The challenge for the NBN is of course to make sure they're there to provide service to everybody. It's something we're certainly mindful of. The intention of the NBN is to get everyone connected to high speed. If you've got alternatives in your area, I would say as a consumer that is a good thing," he said.

"One of the things that disappointed me about the previous term of government really is that the NBN wasn't built in places of greatest need; it was built in the places that were kind of easy. The trick for us, I think, is that we need to build in the places that are hard."

He indicated that NBN Co would be heavily focused on ensuring that upload speeds on the network are improved.

"As we go into the new era of those things, more and more we become the people sending out things into the world, so that upload speed matters hugely," 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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  • C'Mon Simon

    You know why the hardest places weren't picked for initial deployment. Politics and experience. It's easier to do the really hard places with experience, and it's politically a bad idea to pick those places most likely to fail as early adopter sites.
    They DID from what I recall pick a wide variety of sites - inner city dense, brown and green fields, and suburban areas to learn the various issues they would face on a wider deployment.

    What I do like is the idea of getting it run past every house as the priority - get it in my street and i'll dig the bloody hole through the front yard to get it connected. Get the core trunks and branches right, and the edge becomes much easier.
    • Correct

      Sites were chosen for variety if they wanted to choose the easy sites they would have chosen new developments with new pits and pipes but they did not.

      The majority of sites chosen in Victoria were old and hard to do. Brunswick, Footscray, Docklands and CBD were existing hard areas. South Morang and Mernda are new areas. Ballarat is an existing country area.

      According to Simon these are easy
  • He should be running it

    As I've said before, every time Hackett opens his mouth he shows he should be running the NBN. The biggest benefit to this country from the NBN would be if as many people as possible are on it. Whatever it takes to achieve that. Cost savings in the way its built to reduce the price. Rolling out first to the places that have the worst internet service now to get as many people onto it and as much revenue as quickly as possible.

    Hackett as CEO providing the vision, Switkowski as board chairman.
    Gordon D
    • C'Mon Mate

      Malcolm Turnbull wants to base our broadband on his beloved British Telecom's FTTN which has a shockingly low 10% take-up rate. Why, because people don't want the tiny incremental improvement in speed offered by FTTN.
      The high value customers are not going to switch to FTTN. These idiots haven't thought about the number one thing that people actually want (ie the paying customers), that is they want a significant increase in speed, both download and upload.

      This FTTN is going to be a disaster like it was in NZ and Malcolm Turnbull is the captain of the FTTN Titanic.

      Far better to spend $44 billion on a system that is good for the next 30-40 years and will keep its value than flush $29 billion down the drain on FTTN that will be worthless and a liability in 10 years. (remember that the core part of the NBN has too subsidize the wireless and satellite).
      Carl Hansen
  • Telco's are all cherry pickers!

    In Katoomba for DSL2+ services there is only ever been one provider TELSTRA, haven't seen hide nor hair of TPG and their buckets full of promotions about how wonderful and cheap their services are, haven't seen iiNet, Internode, Optus or anyone else. They can't even pool their resources and install a joint DSLM. These guys only want to run services in densely populated areas, particularly into MDU's.
    Turnbull's Fraudband is just going to leave regional and rural areas in the lurch as always.
    Can't wait until this guy has a noose around his neck along with the rest of the creeps running this government.
    Kevin Cobley
    • Hold on a minute there buddy

      You said who the real problem was right there in your rant.

      "there is only ever been one provider TELSTRA"

      Then you blame ALL the others for not having their own DSLAMs in the exchanges. Are you kidding me? Do you have ANY idea how this stuff works? Believe me, TPG, iiNet and all the others have been fighting tooth and nail to get into your exchange mate, it's Telstra that's always blackballing the situation. They OWN EVERYTHING. You cannot simply grab a DSLAM off the shelf waltz over to your exchange and plug it in.

      Telstra charges megabucks for their wholesale access, and other ISPs have to put up as best as they can. Why do you think iiNet cannot get you ADSL2+? It's because Telstra

      a> charges so much for wholesale ADSL2+ access to iiNet the iiNet cannot really be competitive and sell you much cheaper services.
      b> Charges so much to iiNet for leasing space in their exchange and access to copper, that the potential revenue generated from subscriptions doesn't cover the cost of leasing the spcae in the first place!

      THAT is the truth my friend. Ever since Telstra was privatized we have gone from being 9th in the whole world rated for telecommunications to where we are now and falling rapidly. It's all about the dollars now mate. Worst thing to happen to Australian communications ever. Should never have let Telstra handle both the wholesale AND retail as this does not give us any competition, and we are still paying exorbitant prices for copper access.

      The NBN IN ITS ORIGINAL FttP form would mostly fix this. Unfortunately that is not going to happen and it looks like NBN will now be paying ridiculous money to Telstra AGAIN to access their copper well into the future.

      When are the pollies going to wake up and really fix both messes at the same time with FttP?

      The fact we're still considering FttN is unbelievably stupid!

      SO, I DO agree with the last bits of your post for sure. The government is going to take our Telecommunications purgatory officially and dump us in true hell in the future. I for one would look the other way if you tied that noose.
  • Street Infrastructure

    I have always been annoyed that in some areas, one entity will dig a street up to put in or fix some service then shortly afterwards, another comes along and does it for another service - sometimes shortly after a street surface or footpath has been relaid. In DisneyWorld they put in a network of tunnels in which to lay, refurbish and repair diverse services. Why can this not be done more commonly to reduce life-of-system costs for much infrastructure. When a new footpath is laid, put in two or three pipes to each home or business premises - one ready to feed in communication upgrades at a future point in time, one for under-grounded power in appropriate high density areas and perhaps one for clean rainwater runoff. I notice that tunnelling technologies using high pressure water might make street-at-a-time infrastructure upgrades like this quite cost effective. Trick might be to negotiate appropriate cost sharing between all stakeholders like councils and utilities. Then, even if new hyper-fast mobile technologies evolve quickly, the mix between hardwired installations and cellular take-ups could stay competitive cost-wise and be naturally self-levelling where saturation issues begin to arise.
  • No vision for the future.

    Something has to be done to stop Telstra having a strangle hold on our communications and the ridiculous price we pay compared to other countries. Hackett has to educate Turnbull as he has no idea what he is doing. He is lost once you get past 2 empty cans joined by a piece of string.
    Fraudband run by a fraudster board under a fraudulent, non transparent, back in the dark ages Government. NO HOPE!
  • NBN with FTTP will deliver a better result

    While it may be more expensive to roll out FTTP, the speed differences are significant. I doubt that FTTN will be economic, although VDSL from exchanges would be a very quick win and deal with a large portion of slower connections close to exchanges and also maybe RIM's.
    See TrueNet's comparison from 400 volunteer probes in New Zealand here;

    We are looking for Australian volunteers to start testing to compare ISPs here