Turnbull's NBN policy will not be fully costed

Turnbull's NBN policy will not be fully costed

Summary: Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has conceded that the Coalition will not reveal a fully-costed NBN policy prior to the next Australian Federal election.


Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has conceded that the Coalition will not reveal a fully-costed National Broadband Network (NBN) policy prior to the next Australian Federal election, because NBN Co has not disclosed the full cost of the existing contracts.

This morning, the Coalition is launching a broadband survey, which Turnbull has said will be open over the next few months and used to determine the existing broadband speeds across the country.

The survey asks for address details, connection type and the person's satisfaction with the service across a number of factors, including upload speed and download speed, as well as what the person uses the connection for, whether that be for streaming video content, uploading files or using BitTorrent. The survey then conducts a speed test on the connection to determine the actual speeds a person is obtaining.

Turnbull said that should the Coalition form government after the 2013 Federal Election, the NBN will be rolled out faster, cheaper and more affordable to consumers, because in many areas, the NBN will be switched to a fibre-to-the-node (FttN) network, instead of the current fibre-to-the-premise (FttP) network. This would avoid much of the needed construction costs and time.

But despite the promise, Turnbull can't say exactly how much cheaper his plan would be. Speaking on ABC's AM program this morning, Turnbull said that he will only be able to provide an estimate of the cost of his proposal.

"Our policy will be costed in the sense that we can provide very hard, reliable estimates of the relative cost of our approach, but we are not in a position to provide an alternative, if you like, to the NBN Co's corporate plan, because we simply don't access the contractual information," he said.

"We don't know the extent to which they have made commitments, or the terms on which those commitments are made."

Turnbull also said that because NBN Co had to revise its corporate plan earlier this year, from the original 2010 plan, it could not be relied on for accurate costing.

However, there were a number of factors that NBN Co stated as being the reason for the increase in the capital expenditure required for the NBN, up from AU$35.9 billion to AU$37.4 billion. These reasons included an agreement with Optus to shut down its hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) networks, an increase from 14 to 121 points of interconnect and expected upgrades to the satellite and fixed-wireless network.

Topics: NBN, Government, Government AU, Australia


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 a weasel.

    This is a man from a political party that wants so desperately to be in power, wants to convince us that their patchwork plan is SO much better than the proper NBN yet they cant answer simple questions about their policy and not only that they refuse to take any responsibility for the lack of answers blaming someone else (NBNco)... a company they believe shouldn't even exist... and all he has to offer is survey? Really?

    Queue the Turnbull apologists.
    Hubert Cumberdale
    • Release the commercial information of NBNCo...

      then I'll join in the chorus attacking him. Not being able to cost the dismantling NBNCo without contract information isn't surprising.

      Costings would appear to be the least of their problems. Of greater concern is they don't appear to have a policy.

      I'd like to see the government stand aside. Taxpayers taking on far too much risk, technology future over such long timelines too uncertain. The failures of the NBNCo 1st corporate plan make it obvious; couldn't survive 24 mths.
      Richard Flude
      • "Of greater concern is they don't appear to have a policy."

        Your solution is for them "dismantle" NBNco while we wait for them to come up with one? Wow. Simply brilliant.

        "Taxpayers taking on far too much risk"


        "technology future over such long timelines too uncertain"


        "The failures of the NBNCo 1st corporate plan make it obvious; couldn't survive 24 mths."

        Hubert Cumberdale
      • Blame NBNCo... just like blame the last government (as they all do)...

        Richard without wanting to start another heated, long winded debate...

        We all understand your sentiment and I think most of us agree. If the private sector could or were willing to invest... they should.

        But they weren't, not without costly subsidies/freebies/hand-outs (which you Libertarians are surely against - although Libertarian covers a vast political spectrum, eh?)...

        This lands us smack bang here in NBN reality, not in some wishful could be, but never will be, nirvana, you actually believe in?
      • lol

        Well the NBN is being built by the Private Sector. Yes, NBN put out tenders to build it & best tender wins the tender. So it seem's Turncoat keeps missing the point.
        Tax payers HAVE always taken the risk on everything a Gov't does. If the tax payer did not pay for things there would be no railways, airports, roads, hospitals.
      • Miss me?

        Hi Richard. Another NBN debate and you're out of the woodwork again.

        And spreading the same FUD over and over again.

        Listen, instead of me refuting your points (once again - you just spread your assumptions without anything backing it up), how about you get something together based on fact and get back to us?

        I guess if you shout long enough people will listen, but for myself personally I'm more likely to find people listening to me when I base my argument or opinion of facts I can back up. Not regurgitating what Turnbull has said or figures plucked out of the air.

        I saw him personally with about 50 other concerned parties on this very subject a month or so ago, and the discussion was expertly guided by Mr Turnbull from answering questions about the good of the NBN to being re-directed with answers that fulfilled his own political agenda. He also mentioned NBN costs of $50b to $100b at one stage. Can't take a guy seriously the mis-quotes figures that have not even reached $40b.

        You sound just like him by the way......
    • Tsk tsk

      Indeed HC...

      This is coming from those who demanded a full NBN -

      Business plan?
      Full costings?
      ROI projections?
      Etc, etc
      And a CBA?

      Now offering, err, none of the above... FFS the hypocrisy is unbelievable!

      But I'm sure their usual suspect apologists (who joined in demanding previously) will now contradict themselves to toe the party line and claim this is all ok.

      Sickening :-(
  • Malcolm's muddle

    The real problem is Malcolm putting up these objections to the NBN with a straight face. Unlike the rest of the Luddites in the Liberal Party, Malcolm knows the NBN is a great idea, but he's forced by Tony Abbott to come up with this drivel.

    The more Malcolm supports this stupidity, the less he's looking like an alternative leader.
  • And the Life of this network will be?

    What i'd like Malcolm to do is to state the expected life of his FTTN network, and an estimated capital cost. Even mums and dads can understand that $10Bill for a network that will be out of date before it's even finished is a false economy.
    • 10 Bill

      Actually the cost of FTTH to 93% of premises is $12Bill
      The rest is the Rural Wireless, the Satellite (No better available that will be cheaper longterm ), Backhaul and transit networks and POI's, B/OSS and other IT and operational systems and facilities, The Leases and agreements with Telstra, the deal with Optus.
      So they will cancel the OPTUS deal and the Telstra HFC deal and how will they force them to spend the Billions they don't want to spend to upgrade - thats right the taxpayer will pay for the upgrades ( but it is not an NBN cost so they look good, just a Government handout ).
      So total cost only reduced by a couple , maybe 5 or 6 Billion. But now with taxpayer subsidised cherry picking competition from the private sector and no high value business capabity and no real capacity for upgrade, reduced customer base and higher maintenance costs, a redesign of the network, thoroughly test each and every cable pair, repair faulty joints, renegotiate contracts, do a CBA, get ACCC and industry agreement, change existing orders, order cabinets and restart installation.
      On top of eternal separate Taxpayer subsidies, the Quasi NBN will have far less benefit, unlikely to be much cheaper to the customer who will face the broadband lottery and be unable to pay the $30 Odd Bill cost and end up a drag on the taxpayer with a limited ability to sell it off, which would be a disaster, look at the Electricity Companies
      Abel Adamski
  • Err

    So this is a MT CBA...

  • Liberals.

    They have changed 3 times now their policy.
    1. Super Wi-Fi. Till it turns out to be more expensive and limited update for speeds. They forgot to tell you to get same coverage as FTTH you need a transmission tower on every street corner.
    2. FTTN model is flawed, as you still need to maintain the old copper network still. In time this will be even more expensive.
    3. Not able to sell. The FTTN model will be such a patchwork quilt that they will be ever be able to sell it. Where has the NBN Co has been set up to be sold off to private entities once it is built. So this means that area's of the country could be sold off like state 1 etc. So the winning company will provide services for their area and maintain it.
    Try that with the patch work quilt we will have with Liberal plan.
    • Nationalisation is the key

      I personally would rather NEVER see this asset sold.
      Nathan Burnham
  • Goebbels would be proud Pt1

    Fails to highlight the abject failure of the private sector and competition to provide the essential infrastructure for now let alone the future as the reason for this piece of theatre
    Gives the impression the NBN is limited to 100Mb and for the Consumer (Voter ) ONLY.
    Fails to address the unreliability and fault propensity of the current offerings
    Even his beloved mates company Opticomm only improved its products and prices on offer to NBN equivalent with the advent of the NBN.
    Telstra only started it's top hat and exchange upgrades with the advent of the NBN. After all why enable competitors at substantial cost, the economic reality for the private operators is profit, it is far more profitable to force customers on to their highly profitable UNREGULATED wireless, with their highly profitable and expensive Wholesale offerings for those who need more. Telstra has only gone for the wired broadband seriously since the advent of the NBN.
    Private Sector and "Competition" are about market share, control of the market and PROFIT.
    The National infrastructure and economic foundations are the GOVERNMENTS RESPONSIBILITY
    The NBN has been the factor to actually stimulate improvement and competition, not the vague wishy washy ideologicall fantasy land obsessive mantras of the coalition and vested interests.
    Abel Adamski
  • Goebbels would be proud Pt2

    Telstra's FTTH offerings either on estates or South Bris are crippled to consumer grade (HFC equivalent) and expensive
    iiNet complained about the NBN overbuilding their Transact Fibre in Ballarat as they could not compete with price or product.
    On the blogs we have complaints about the crappy expensive fibre products, on examination they are private sector products, poor old Gertrude whingeing about her expensive rubbish fibre broadband in her 3y old Canberra home, Transact of course but on that basis knocking the NBN
    We have the need for NBN because of the Coalitions obsession with depending on the private sector and "competition".
    This time it will be better they say because we will guarantee budget deficits by throwing Billions in subsidies to the private sector for eternity to provide a second rate expensive to maintain solution that will only be upgraded if ever in a limited piecemeal manner and NEVER be truly ubiquitous and business capable.
    No real long term benefit to the Nation or the economy, but a purely political and look after your mates in a very limited sector of the economy.

    Patch up the black spots to a consumer grade and that will be it. Job done and the taxpayer will have to pay the bill and Billions in subsidies for eternity, the Liberal way
    Abel Adamski
  • Don't Do What I Do....

    In August Mr Turnbull was reported as saying the Coalition had a fully costed plan for their version of the NBN. He now says that he can't give us the cost until after the next election and is doing a survey so they can develop the plan.

    Wasn't this the same person who recently made a widely reported speech about the need for politicians to raise their standards?

    Enough said!!!!
  • Mal Tunabull's FTTN only cheaper in one set of cirumstances.

    Mal's Fibre to the node is only cheaper if Fibre is NEVER laid to the home. Mal's doing what political parties always do borrow from the future and cost shift to the future.
    Kevin Cobley
  • Indeed

    +1 Kevin...

    Yes MT & Co have the audacity to say NBNCo are using sleight of hand to hide the costs of the NBN (even though their accountancy method has received a tick of approval from learned world economists) but refuse to factor FttP into their own costings...

    Perhaps that's because they have no intention of ever supplying FttP (or as someone pointed out at another forum) possibly no intention of even supplying FttN?
  • Costing NBN is impossible

    I'm not sure some of the commenters here actually know anything about the complexity of NBN. It's true Malcolm Turnbull won't release costings for their version. The reason is simply because Neither political party knows how much it will cost.

    MDU (Multi Dwelling Units) are the reason. It's all well and good to dig a trench down a street and drop some cable into it. Its even no big deal to roll a joint (no, not that kind) out into a house (Single dwelling Unit) and hook up the cable.

    But in most of the areas scheduled to get NBN first, there are high-rise units, 'six-pack' blocks of units and various other MDUs. Getting the cable into these is going to be a nightmare because of the plethora of building techniques used to construct them and the often 30 cm thick walls this cable has to penetrate.

    As of right now, the firm charged with rolling out the NBN doesn't have anyone to do the MDU work. Certainly if I were to quote on such a job it would not be a fixed price but on a 'cost plus' basis. This could see any early estimate blown out of the water. SO next time you want to call the Hon Malcolm Turnbull names for being honest, please try to remember he is one of the early pioneers of the Internet in Australia and probably the only politician on either side who actually does know what he's talking about.

    Instead of bashing the knowledgeable one... How about asking the ruling party why a whole suburban city (Redland City Queensland) isn't even on the list to have NBN? Chasing numbers is what is going to make the biggest mess we're likely to ever see when the true cost of NBN becomes known in about fifteen years.