Telstra will decide Coalition's NBN: Hackett

Telstra will decide Coalition's NBN: Hackett

Summary: Telstra will decide the Coalition's broadband policy, and the circumstances in which it is deployed, according to Internode founder Simon Hackett.


Internode founder and iiNet director Simon Hackett has said that Telstra could reject the Coalition's proposed renegotiation to access the copper network for the fibre-to-the-node (FttN) National Broadband Network (NBN) and force a fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) network.

(Image: David Braue/ZDNet)

Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull this morning outlined the policy that his party will take to the September federal election, with a future Coalition government scaling back from a 93 percent fibre-to-the-home network to a 71 percent fibre-to-the-node network. While this will require the Coalition to renegotiate Telstra's AU$11 billion deal with NBN Co to access the copper, Turnbull said he is confident that it could be done quickly.

But speaking on Tuesday at the Communications Day Summit in Sydney, Hackett suggested that Telstra would hold all the cards, and would seek much more money.

"In my view, you're going to pay a lot more money to Telstra," he said. "There will need to be something in it for them, otherwise why change the deal you have?

"The capacity to shift this network from being pure fibre to the premises to fibre to the node is entirely at the whim of Telstra."

If Telstra won't change the deal, it will mean that the fibre-to-the-home rollout continues, he said.

"That suits me, I like that stuff."

He also said that the decision to deploy an estimated 60,000 cabinets for the Coalition's NBN would be a lot harder than building a new network, and the Coalition would need to consider the cost of powering those 60,000 cabinets across the country, and the maintenance of the copper network in the long term.

"The copper network needs to not fall apart in the process. It does represent a challenge," he said.

Hackett said that the Coalition's desire to roll the network out faster and cheaper is admirable, but said fibre to the node is not the answer.

"Maybe there are other ways of saving money and doing it faster, and maybe that's just holding NBN Co's nose to a grindstone and pushing hard," he said.

Speaking before Hackett, the two authors behind the most recent report looking at how the Coalition's policy regarding the NBN might end up have also indicated that they believe the policy will change a year after the election, if the Coalition wins.

Allen Overy's Michael Reede and Venture Consulting's Justin Jameson last month released their analysis of policy options for the Coalition if the party wins the election. The pair said today that following Turnbull's announcement, although it appears simple on face value, it would get more complex as time goes on.

They suggested that although the party would not change policy in the first 12 months of government, it would likely be significantly changed after that as the complexity of rolling out a fibre-to-the-node network increases.

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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  • What about Wireless - node to home to node.

    Hold on!
    CSIRO (remember them from WiFi patents) and Australia could lead the way by combining the best of wireless with close proximity nodes via FttN plus a wireless combination for the last 1 ,2 or 3Kms. They are already at broadband speeds being offered or talked about by the FttH technology ( and remember we have chosen GPON - for shared fibre line).

    Remember - no one contemplates a home user dragging a loose cable around the house (Cat 5 or 6) connected to their tablet / smart phone. The normal home - in good old Australian suburbia - already deploys WiFi for its needs - and poorly manages it from a security point of view. (No - the days of the phone fixed to the connection in the hallway have gone!)

    I cannot find any home user who is going to rewire their house for FttP/H with Cat 5 or 6 cabling. They will almost always use a WiFi router unit operating, say, with 802.11g/n or later. So - we are faced with street after street of GPON (shared fibre cable) connected house all managing their own WiFi - why do that? (Of course, any business, school, hospital, etc that wants direct fibre connection could still have it if they need and want it.)
    BUT I am talking about the normal mum and dad in their home or townhouse or flat.

    Now - oops - bad political language following - "Wimax" and its later manifestations.

    What if the proposal was - OK - not going to use the old copper anyway but enable broadband to the home with Australian technology courtesy of CSIRO - sorry Telstra - perhaps you could sell us a power backup service over the old copper (rather than those short-life batteries we have to have at present - oops again , may "opt to have".) We already have wireless/mobile towers for mobile phones.

    Lets have some new thinking that combines the best of both worlds - fibre and wireless - after all that is what the end-user is doing right now (ADSL copper to 802.11 wireless) - and some may not even want a fixed line service anyway (as has been reported in the USA at least. Australia - well, unsure as to those stats.)

    No - time for a real rethink - and a rethink that is effective, flexible and sits firmly into a cost/benefit analysis.