Kev the Broadband Builder

Kev the Broadband Builder

Summary: Is the NBN announcement a good thing? The industry at large seems to say yes. The Opposition is less sold on the idea, as you'll hear from Nick Minchin.


You'd have to have been living under a rock to have not heard this week's broadband announcement. During one of his rare visits to this country, Kevin Rudd said his government has ditched the NBN tender process and, instead, the government will build its own fibre-to-the-home solution as a private-public partnership.

So is this a good thing? The industry at large seems to say yes. The Opposition is less sold on the idea, as you'll hear from Nick Minchin.

Here's the line-up of guests on this week's Twisted Wire:

  • Simon Hackett, MD of Internode
  • Senator Nick Minchin, shadow communications minister
  • Anne Hurley, CEO of the Communications Alliance
  • Ravi Bhatia, CEO of Primus

Is it a realistic proposal? Will it be built? Are you annoyed by the delays? Add comments on what you hear in the Talkback section.

Topics: Broadband, Telcos, Optus, Telstra, NBN


Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

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  • Australian Communism !!

    I am disgusted with this Govt. I am stunned at the reckless stupidity. In the pursuit of Idealism.

    1/ $43 B. for internet speed ! Not hospitals, Not schools, Not sooo many other needs of society.

    2/ Starting another Telco while it still holds 17% of old one Telstra !

    3/ Which it received a payment for less than 6 mths ago. And who's shareholders are enduring a decade long loss !

    4/ ACTIVELY trying to destroy value in Telstra.

    5/ ACTIVELY putting a gun to Telstra shareholders head to give up assets and market share and money to join this new company.

    By the way the new telco will be like the concord. Better than 747 but not welcome and not viable. And idiots behind the idea will try to flood Aust. with nothing but concords. And the big hope it has is for Telstra to join and forsake HFC and NextG evolution and investment.

    I trully hope Wimax or Vodafone and Hutch wipe the floor with this new monopoly Telco the govt is trying to establish and inadvertantly stifle innovation with.

    Highly immoral if not actually illegal is the govt action against Telstra shareholders and Australian Tax payers indeed all citizens.
  • what the...

    How is this communism? How? What a ridiculous comment.

    By the way, what was telstra before? TELECOM and before that PMG. A government owned and operated service. Who put in all the copper wires and the POTS infrastructure - the government!!!!
  • And who screwed it up?...

    The previous government - Howard!
  • Blind Fools missing the perverse obvious truth.

    How is it communism you ask.

    The govt is setting up a company in competition to the company its in the middle of selling and still partly owns ! That not being bad enough is giving Telstra the Ultimatum GIVE us your assets in return for a little equity in new Telco that will compete against you !!! If you dont we will pass laws to force you to divest assets !! Perhaps we will do this anyway !

    You are a Blind Fool.

    Telstra should openly announce its not in control of its destiny and that all should abandon Telstra shares, as management will fight to the end . . . .Telstra's ultimate destruction, the govt 's ultimate aim . . . now that its sold most of it off to the duped public.

    To Conroy and Rudd,
    Telstra shareholders are not seeking Govt protection but neither do they deserve to be actively pursued to destruction.
    Stalin also claimed to be working in the interests of the mass's you absolute fools.
  • Australian WHAT?

    Damned shareholders. It's you lot who cause all the problems, you know that? If it weren't for you, companies would pay more heed to their actual customers. But no, you get all their attention. Be grateful for having enough moolah to put into the stockmarket. We without any don't love you a lot.
  • Oh the poor shareholder.

    Is that you Sydney?

    6) My shares, my shares , my shares!

    Sell them, if it pains you so much.
  • Reality as viewed from the eyes of a Telstra shareholder.

    Reality check any relation to wet check, you knob?
  • Lessons to be learned.

    The Rudd Government is about to learn a lesson in basic business investment.

    Firstly, understand the cost involved, the possible customer attract, the charges required to get a satisfactory return on the investment and the capital available for the project.

    If Telstra is not inclined to invest in this proposed NBN it will be an abject failure and a disaster for the Rudd Government. Telstra has a huge and faithful customer base which the NBN must gain to be successful.

    With an invest of $43 billion (probably much more) there is no way the new NBN can deliver a service to the public cheaper that those presently supplying. Cost is important to the consumer.

    If the Government and Telstra do work in unison it may be possible to make this proposed NBN a goer but no one should doubt the gigantic problems both financial and technological that will dog this project.

    The truth is that Australia really cannot afford the NBN upgrade at this time and Mr Rudd might have bitten more than he can chew.
  • Primus

    Good to hear Ravi's response.
  • Another greedy shareholder crying foul...

    Perhaps you should disclose that your comments are heavily biased by being a Telstra is very evident in your post.

    I am one too but I can separate my own greed and see that this is for the benefit of the country for the next 20-30years and I'm not bothered if my portfolio takes a tumble because Telstra will lose its monopolostic, eye gouging business practise.

    Perhaps you should put your own self interests behind and for once care what is best for the country. But I guess you'd be happy if we were all on 1.5Mbit ADSL in 10 years time and Australia continued to be ranked among the lowest quality broadband in the developed world, as long as your juicy shareholder dividends kept coming through!
  • Optimistic objectives...

    So did anybody else pick up on the change of name for the network from FTTH to FTTP?

    Being called Fibre-to-the-home would imply that 90% of Australian homes would be connected to the network. Now called Fibre-to-the-premise, the government only has to connect 90% of premises. It's a subtle change but one that has big implications.

    The objective to connect 90% of Australian homes to the network is optimistic given this figure would need to include unit, apartments and other MDU's. The network would only be able to connect to the building. Unit and apartment blocks would have to re-wire the building privately to give individual dwellings access to the network, which raises a few questions:

    * How would several dwellings sharing one connection to the network affect speed and performance? I believe that Telstra and Optus don't connect MDU's to their HFC networks today partly because of these complications.
    * Will the government offer financial assistance in rewiring the tens of thousands of unit blocks around the country so residents can connect to the network?
    * Will the government mandate that all new MDU's constructed must be wired to support the new network, once the technicalities and standards are finalised?
  • Get rid of them, there a liability

    I've been telling people for a few years, get rid of them, because they are a POOR company treat their customers like fools and overcharge them.
    Get rid of them!.
  • Scrap all because of a hickup

    Nothings perfect, but to deny 90% because of a few problems is not acceptable.
  • Idealogistsssss

    Who screwed the economy?
    Labor Supporter: The previous government
    Who screwed the telecoms industry?
    Labor Supporter: The previous government
    Who screwed us with workplace agreements?
    Labor Supporter: The previous government
    Who screwed the public health care system?
    Labor Supporter: The previous government
    Who screwed the education system?
    Labor Supporter: The previous government
    Who screwed me mum?
    Labor Supporter: The previous government
    Who is screwing things up right here right now today at this point in time whilst Kevin Rudd and the Labor party is in power?
    Labor Supporter: The previous government
  • mr naive

    gee you went to a lot of trouble to demonstrate your naivety and lack of knowledge.
  • Why should a commercial return be expected?

    Last time I looked, the government was happily spending money on *other* infrastructure that was not subject to Malcolm Turnbull's decry of generating an acceptable "return on investment".

    Roads, Hospitals, Schools. Along with, in the past and yet slowly being privatised, public transport, electricity, gas, water, sewerage etc.

    Why does the government invest money in these things? Because doing so is in the interests of the community at large.

    These kinds of investments improve quality of life. They improve living conditions. They improve the health of its citizens. They allow the country to be more productive. They allow the country to be more competitive internationally. They allow the economy to grow.

    So why, pray tell, does a new telecommunications network, which gives many of the benefits I have described above, suddenly need to generate a commercial return? What aspect of the NBN in particular makes it subject to a different set of rules compared to say a Road, Bridge, or Tunnel?

    How do you put a $ value on the non-$ benefits that the country receives from having a better, open and transparent, communications network?

    Unfortunately our present telecommunications environment is irreparably broken, stuffed up by Howard and co, who naively thought a few regulations would be all that was necessary to keep Telstra in check.

    Telstra wanted to play poker, game the system. And whilst they have won numerous hands, they are about to find out that they are not going to win the jackpot.

    Telstra had a chance years ago to make the necessary investment way before the NBN tender took place - it's greediness saw it receive the response it deserved from the ACCC.

    It takes some balls to commit to spending $43b on a single project. Despite being the creator of the problem, all the Liberals can now do is complain about the cost necessary to fix their mistakes, and throw up FUD about the project not making a commercial return.
  • Why should a commercial return be expected?

    A commercial return is expected because the funds are coming from the issue of government bonds and private coperate funds plus the divestature of commercial assets by companies.

    So as somebody who pays money or assets for this you'll just hand over your money without expecting to get an interest paid on your money?? If thats how you think you're crazy!!

    And if there is no return the funds have to be recouped through higher taxes.

    So thats why there must be a commercial return.
  • Hmm

    Isn't that what Telstra has said all along, only to be shot down and called greedy for expecting a commensurate return on anything they were planning to build?