Petitions and twibbons won't save the NBN

Petitions and twibbons won't save the NBN

Summary: I admire the enthusiasm of people signing a petition to save the fibre-to-the-premises NBN, but it's unlikely to go anywhere.


The fastest-growing Australian petition on indicates that people online are still really keen for Labor's fibre-to-the-premises National Broadband Network (NBN), but the Coalition is as likely to listen to an online petition on the NBN as it would one asking it to build a Death Star.

Following the Coalition's decisive election victory on Saturday, the NBN is one of the first major government projects that will be given an overhaul. However, it will take some time, around a year, before incoming Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be able to turn the NBN from a majority fibre-to-the-premises project into a majority fibre-to-the-node project.

Before that will take place, a number of audits and investigations will be conducted into NBN Co, and we will know well before next year whether the Coalition intends to proceed with its FttN network as promised before the election.

In line with my previous estimate about where NBN fans were in terms of their grieving process for the existing NBN project, we're still in the bargaining stage, with some suggesting that if an online petition was given to the new government, it would somehow be convinced to keep the project as it is.

I admire the initiative, and the passion that has obviously gone into it for it to have already surpassed 100,000 signatures in a matter of days, but if you want to measure the success that these sorts of online petitions have, you need only look at the petition that got the highest number of signatures before it. said that the next biggest petition was a petition to boycott 2GB when right-wing broadcaster Alan Jones said that former Prime Minister Julia Gillard's recently deceased father had "died of shame" almost a year ago. Despite the ensuing furore and the calls for his dismissal, Jones remains on the air. Although 2GB temporarily suspended advertising on the station, and some advertisers left, Jones' show continues, and his audience share remains relatively stable.

That's hardly a resounding success.

Turnbull has responded to the petition, stating that the cost-benefit analysis will "finally be able to assess what this project is really going to cost in terms of time and dollars, and the relative trade-offs of differing approaches to delivering better broadband".

The key word in there is "cost". Despite committing to a very expensive paid-parental leave scheme before the election, the Coalition is unlikely to be convinced that pursuing what it perceives to be the most expensive option when it comes to broadband is the right idea, no matter how many signatures the petition gets.

If the public gets a say, or can be involved in the cost-benefit analysis process, that could potentially bring about change to the current proposal. But for now, all the petitions, twibbons, or any other attack sites in the world will not sway the Coalition into keeping the current NBN design.

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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  • How would it look for Abbott!

    Backing down based on public opinion would shred his "We have a mandate" line.

    It won't happen.
    • yep, consider the last three of their irrational opposition to the proper NBN. You simply can't reason with Luddites like that. They told us they want to make use of the obsolete copper by building FttN so I imagine they'll be banging their heads against the wall trying to make square pegs fit in round holes for another three years. Coalition clowns are notorious for this.
      Hubert Cumberdale
      • Copper is cutting-edge technology!

        I know just how "cutting" edge. I've been without phone or internet for two days due to corrosion.
        • Bitch please...

          I have a 'perfectly fine and fault free' 100mbps cable internet connection that maxes out at 5mbps.
  • Unless..

    The CBA points out the obvious that there is far more long term growth capable from a Fibre NBN, and that switching to a FTTN will neither save time nor money in real terms. You know, a reality. But we all know that the CBA;s output will be highly influenced (i.e decided) by the terms under which it will be operating.
    • Yeah

      I probably should point out that in my last blog post I said that these sorts of reviews by incoming governments are generally designed to confirm what they already wanted.
      Josh Taylor
  • As for this Queensland student if he really wanted to make a difference he should have been making noise LONG before the election. Now he only has himself to blame when GimpCo rolls around his town. He signed a petition when he voted for them.
    Hubert Cumberdale
  • Dont understand..

    I still do not understand why both models have to be so drastically different, the two options are either the best possible (Original NBN) or the worst (Might as well not do it at all (Liberals). However i have seen multiple different suggestions from people quite more knowledgeable than i, with a more middle ground which provides the speeds yet is cheaper & able to be rolled out faster.
    • Alan Jones was Correct.

      Following the demise of FTTP it seems 'Wireless is the Future" will apply to many of us.
      Why incur additional line rental costs for a slow copper FTTN service if a mobile wireless dongle will suffice?
      Good luck in getting an acceptable return on that $30B investment Mal.
      • If we all use wireless

        It will not give 25MB. Not where a lot of people are using it. Simple physics, given available spectrum.
    • The libs arent actually going to do it

      But they are still going to charge the country around 28 billion dollars for it.

      Did anyone notice the fact that despite claiming that they arent going to do it they still have a cost estimate for their flavour of it (For some stupid reason using the infrastructure already in place still costs what... just under 2 billion dollars less.... despite it all already being there)

      But hey, no one ever accused the Liberals of being honest, and no one ever accused a Liberal voter of being in any way intelligent.
      • Yes

        They are. Murdoch payed them with too much advertising and propaganda for them to turn around and say no we are actually going to choose the network that will hurt you the most.
        • But it wont

          In the long run it wouldn't hurt foxtel anymore than the current younger generation moving away from TV and online. Foxtel can run through the NBN and at a much cheaper for Foxtel price per customer. Instead of giving everyone a satellite, you run the foxtel connections through the NBN. People who still want access to TV can and will still watch it.
          • But

            Its not that simple. There already other services available that use internet connections to provide foxtel like internet tv. Called iptv these providers are set up around a much more flexible unicast set up. These set ups make it cheaper and easier for the provider to run and allows the consumer to watch what they want when they want, rather than having to wait for rhe allotted time.

            Changing a networks whole design to go from multicast to unicast is a very expensive process and with other cheaper iptv already available who would want to stick with an outdated multicast set up.

            The fact is that 25 mbps fttn cannot reasonably keep up with iptv and provide internet, especially when 4k tv becomes more and more common.
          • Greater Opportunity for Foxtel!

            A FttP NBN, they [Foxtel] could turn themselves into an ISP and wholesale NBN and have packages that include Foxtel channels

            This could even be done by all the FTA Channel's as well

            They already have the broadcast rights and most have already setup their online portals, they would actually start to hurt the traditional ISP's as an ISP does not have any content to include within the monthly package
  • Skateboard guy's still here!

    The election's been won by the Liberals, time you got back to the skate rink.
    Leave technology arguments to the true thinkers.
    Kevin Cobley
    • So That's How It Works

      Can we also have votes on global warming, evolution, and the laws of gravity?
  • Copper is More Expensive

    If you take the cost of each proposal (FttN or FttP), then divide that by the expected lifetime of the network, then Fibre to the Premises (FttP) comes out as the cheaper network, by a very wide margin.

    So, in effect, those proposing to use a Fibre + Copper network are proposing a more expensive system than if it were fibre all the way to the home.

    But I guess they look 3 or 4 years in advance, only.
  • I suppose we should just roll over and accept...

    a mediocre solution other developed nations are already looking to replace.

    Australia, a place where just enough is enough, innovations come to die and living in last century infrastructure is ok. I suppose our kids, in 10 years time, will look back to us and say "What were they thinking?!". But that's ok, as long as it's the future generation footing the bill and not us, instead of leaving a legacy we leave a question, instead of building the future when we have the money we maintain the past.

    Australians, my money in my pocket is worth more than the possible future development for the nation. We don't want to be leader in anything, being mediocre is enough, terrified of change, mortified at the thought of spending. Remember when we were once the envy of other countries when FTTH was announced? Well, that's all past us now, I guess we still have the beaches, oh yes and the wildlife. Bushman, that's what we will be recognised for in the international stage.
  • I survive on 0.5mbps and I'm a tech head

    As a web developer who often works on a 0.5mbps connection I'd like to have my say. I admit I could do with faster Internet, but 100mbps isn't that necessary for the average Aussie right now...yet.

    Whilst the idea of investing up front and going all the way to the premises with the NBN sits well with me because it is an investment that will last, I don't think the Coalition's idea is as terrible as everyone makes out.

    Look at it this way, run fibre to the node quickly throughout Australia then begin boosting the speeds on our existing copper at a quicker rate than Labor's NBN, then later begin replacing the copper with fibre in new premises and continue the roll out more steadily over time to the rest. It might take longer to reach a full FTTP solution but it would bring better speeds initially.

    Some argue this would cost more, but honestly Labor tend to over promise and under deliver anyway. We have already been seeing this with the progress so far during their term. Whilst many of you mock at the comments that 100mbps connections are only used for movies and TV, I think even 25mbps or even 10mbps is enough to start with as long as it doesn't stay there for too long.

    I live in an area where the NBN has already been installed nearby. My best mates have it and they do get good speeds but even as young tech heads they didn't opt for the 100mbps. I also have other friends who are positive they get 100mbps on copper and they aren't computer illiterates who might be confused. Don't ask me how, I haven't asked them that question yet but considering they run several servers off it I'm yet to doubt.

    Anyway, my point is maybe the Coalition's NBN does not fit with your idealist broadband yet, but it does have merit so I think some of the extremely poor opinions of Abbot and Turnbull need to be balanced out.

    Also, don't lecture me about the distance and speed on copper. I live at least 5km from the exchange. There is no way they are going to run fibre to my place on either policy, but maybe VDSL or similar will boost my speeds before I can get wireless.

    That's my two cents.