Low NBN take-up irrelevant: Conroy

Low NBN take-up irrelevant: Conroy

Summary: Telstra's $11 billion agreement with the National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) means the low sign up rate for services on the NBN is irrelevant, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said this morning.


Telstra's $11 billion agreement with the National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) means that the low sign-up rate for services on the NBN is irrelevant, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said this morning.


(Screenshot by Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)

In Senate Estimates last week it was revealed that roughly 51 per cent of the first 4000 Tasmanian premises offered connection to the NBN had consented to having the fibre installed to their home. NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley said that that, of those, 436 premises (10.9 per cent in total) had ordered services and 262 of those (6.55 per cent in total) now had active services.

Speaking on the ABC's Insiders program this morning, Conroy said that this level of take-up after three months in Tasmania was actually ahead of what was predicted in the KPMG and McKinsey Implementation Study, which was between 6 and 12 per cent in the first 12 months. Yet Conroy said that Telstra's heads of agreement with the government would remove any concerns about the numbers in any case.

"All of the arguments around take-up are irrelevant once we reach the agreement with Telstra," Conroy told Insiders host Barrie Cassidy. "We are closing down the copper network. We are actually transferring every customer who wants a fixed line onto the National Broadband Network."

"So [people are] trying to suggest that one in 10 is somehow a fail mark when it's actually ahead of schedule and irrelevant ultimately because every fixed-line customer transfers onto the National Broadband Network that wants to."

Conroy also rejected suggestions made last week that connecting to the NBN would be expensive for consumers, with some reports suggesting that rewiring costs could amount to thousands of dollars per household.

"We will provide a connection into people's homes and you can plug into that connection and away you go, using an existing Wi-Fi network, using the sorts of technology existing in people's homes today," he said. "Those sorts of figures imply you're fibring your toilet up.

"If you want to watch IPTV on four different screens in four different rooms you might need to do some cabling," he added. "But that's no different to Foxtel, for instance, where they'll give you one connection for their price. If you want Foxtel in a second room you pay $15 a month or so for an extra screen in an extra room.

The business case for the NBN was reviewed by the NBN Co board on Friday, Conroy revealed. He said that some of the key information contained in this business case would be revealed after the government reviews it in the next few weeks.

"I would expect some fairly major information to be made available about the cost, the pricing, the rates of return, all that sort of information to be made public," he said.

The minister dismissed claims that bipartisan support for the network could be achieved if the Productivity Commission gave a glowing analysis for the NBN as part of a private member's bill put forward by the Coalition last week. Conroy said that Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull hasn't indicated he would support the network in that case, and said that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's goal is to "demolish" the NBN project.

"We'd waste money. The [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] are about to complete a major study into broadband productivity, a major study, cost benefit analysis drawn from all across the world," he said. "And so what we have now is demands for more studies and more time wasting."

Topics: Broadband, Government, Government AU, 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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  • The other thing about that 10% which the media doesn't seem to mention, is that many people with existing services would be under some form of contract. It would be interesting to see how many people who said "yes" to the fibre connection, are just waiting for their existing BB contract to expire before signing up for an NBN service.
  • Agree 100% grif - here's what I said at another ZD thread, just yesterday...

    "Obviously”, there’s limited clientele, most of whom already have some sort of (sub-standard – hence the need for an NBN) internet plan. So where else is NBN Co supposed to get their clientele, thin air?

    There must be a number like me, already with good comms, who even if the superior NBN was available, wouldn’t churn "yet", as we are locked into long term contracts (I still have 18 months minimum) and hefty fines would apply, for breaking the contract!


    Of course "all the usual suspects disagreed", LOL!
  • Another point that hasn't been mentioned in relation to the low take up is that one of the towns in Tassie, Scottsdale, has just had their major employer shut down a timber mill in the town. This is obviously going to affect take up.
    I believe at the pilot sites in Adelaide there has been an 84% take up. I am lucky enough to be in an area that will be covered by the second stage rollout. Can't wait.
  • The cost of hard wiring an existing home with cable is prohibitive and wireless looses the speed advantage . It is All too expensive to have a fast e-mail most people still jump when the screen saver activates.
  • @GBE - "wireless looses the speed advantage"? How so? It's unlikely any one connection on your wireless network will max the 100mb/s anyway. Also 802.11n has a max speed of 600mb/s, so that's a fairly straight forward upgrade.
  • And keep in mind that the many of the international websites you visit are connected to the 'net via pipes with no more than 10Mb/s bandwidth, or use connection throttling, so don't be disappointed when their pages don't load much quicker than you're already used to, just because you're connected at fibre speed. It's all about the "weakest link".
  • "Looses"??
    Perhaps he meant to type 'loosens,' meaning allows multiple access.
    Wireless would only LOSE speed due to interference or over excessive distance
  • Splinter, did you get those figures from Turnbull? I've listed two that's connected just a little over your 10Mbps for your information:

    Australia-Japan Cable
    Fate Active
    First traffic 2001
    Design capacity 640 gbit/s (2001)
    1000 gbit/s (2008)
    Lit capacity 80 gbit/s (2001)
    240 gbit/s (2008)
    Area served Asia-Pacific
    Owner(s) Telstra, BT, Verizon Business, Softbank

    Pipe Pacific Cable (PPC-1)
    Cable type Fibre-optic
    Fate Active
    First traffic August 2009
    Design capacity 2.56 tbit/s

    Please do your research properly before posting any ill informed comments.
    Salami Chujillo
  • i guys I would be your typical non tech type internet user and that is about ninety percent of users. We are told wireless suffers from data loss and interference from other sources consequently hard wiring a home is the best option to achieve any benefit from the NBN.

    If wireless is so good. Why do we need an optical cable to all homes instead of broadcast tower ala mobile phones ?
  • Agreed. Foxtel wouldn't even give me one connection as the installer found it all too hard. and the $15 a month is for a second box not for cabling a second point.

    Who is going to pay the costs to wire from the kerb to my existing phone point and is this is covered for free what then about my extra lines.
    Also my primary phone connection doesn't have a power point so am I now up for another $300-$500 to have a power point installed.
  • Yes it would be interesting grif if you had the actual figures in front of you - pity that, the media doesn't mention it because there is nothing to mention.

    I could mention that they don't actually want it, cannot be possible eh?
  • What 'pilot sites' in Adelaide have a 84% takeup? - the three areas in Tasmania are the only active pilots, well if you call 262 residences active - wow! are they actually lighting the fibre up?
  • I think you should re-read what splinters said... "... many of the international websites you visit are connected to the 'net via pipes with no more than 10Mb/s bandwidth... " it's got nothing to do with the size of the International links (unless of course they are throttling connections).

    If the overseas site has an upload speed of 10M, you aren't going to get anymore than that at this end, unless there is some local caching, in which case at best your download from that would be limited to its upload speed ... hence the 'weakest link' comment.

    You should read the reviews of the newly updated Telstra and Optus Cable services... very rarely does a site download at the 70-90M the cable services are advertising and nor they should, business grade Internet is expensive (try $600-$800 per meg /mth, all you can eat)... and hence why most large businesses have Internet bandwidth in the region of 5 to 20M, depending on the size/importance of their internet business.
  • GBE,

    Wireles in your house (i.e WiFi) is completey different to 3G wirless from mobile phone towers. If you have a WiFi wireless router in your house it only needs to transmit that wirless signal a few meters between rooms at maximum so it will work well as opposed to 3G wirless from mobile towers which need to transmit through many, many more mediums, e.g. buildings, trees, weather, etc & is also effected by the number of users using that mobile tower base station at the same time.
  • Wow, so many of the websites on the internet are run from 10Mbit ADSL grade connections? I don't think so unless they won't their business to go broke. Sure there will be some slow links but any business or major site which hosts files for downloads will have their site hosted at a colo data centre with better bandwidth then an 10Mbit ADSL connection.
  • Who said anything about ADSL? Business-grade Ethernet (fibre) links go down to 2M. As I said, Internet bandwidth is expensive and they typically buy bandwidth based on average usage and the 'customer experience' they want to provide.

    Regardless, the point splinters was making was just because you have a 100M connection, don't expect to regularly get 100M downloads.
  • Piller, you clearly haven't used WiFi in modern dwellings. Even a couple of plaster board walls can significantly impede wireless signals. Add to that interference from wireless phones, mobiles, microwave ovens, other WiFi networks, multiple users and devices, and suddenly even 802.11n starts to slow.

    Sure it has a [b]theoretical[/b] limit of 600mb/s, but you will rarely achieve that. I have ADSL 2 and already get around 500mb/s from high bandwidth sites, and around 200~300 from other places.

    The NBN will make no difference to my internet speed, which is plenty fast enough for the foreseeable future, so why will I be forced to take it up?
    Fred Fredrickson