Tasmanian NBN a shambolic, abysmal failure: TasICT

Tasmanian NBN a shambolic, abysmal failure: TasICT

Summary: TasICT has labelled the NBN deployment in Tasmania as a shambles, and said in a submission to the NBN senate committee that argument over which technology is used to rollout the NBN is now less relevant than the need to get customers onto the network.


The self-labelled peak body for Tasmania's information, communications, and technology sector, TasICT, has rebuked both sides of politics in a submission (PDF) to the Labor and Greens-led Senate Select Committee charged with reviewing the Coalition's changes to the NBN and its governance.

TasICT said that the NBN has been used as a political tool by all major parties at both the federal and state level, and that the real issues concerning the network had been dealt with in a shallow manner, or ignored entirely.

The rollout in Tasmania, which was originally slated to be the first state to have a complete network in 2015, is so far behind, that TasICT said on current run rates, it would take until 2028 for the remainder of Tasmania's 190,000 premises contracted to receive fibre to the premise to be connected to the network.

"Tasmanians now wonder if they will ever get the NBN," TasICT said. "Business has lost enthusiasm for the project and RSPs have lost confidence in the product they want to provide."

"Tasmania, already dealing with an inadequate communications infrastructure, faces lengthy delays to ever see the project completed."

The immediate issue for Tasmania, TasICT said, was not which technology was best, but to get the rollout progressing.

"A debate about what policy would see the greatest number of new connections to NBN infrastructure in the shortest period of time would be more relevant than one about proposed changes to the NBN technology mix," the submission said.

While the body remained supportive of a FttP network and encouraged a trial of fibre delivery via Aurora's power poles, it acknowledged that issues with Visionstream, the company contracted to deploy the network in Tasmania, plagued the rollout.

TasICT slammed Labor's push to legislate a FttP network in Tasmania, saying it was politically motivated and would not solve any of the network's problems.

"Even if it was successful, it would be farcical to shackle an incumbent government to an infrastructure policy it did not want to implement." The touted economic reform and health benefits long promised with a complete FttP rollout have the potential to transform Tasmania, but TasICT said that hinged on full delivery of the network.

"Existing broadband infrastructure is often inadequate or too unreliable to use the sort of technology that could result in better service delivery," the submission said.

"The NBN — through any of the current technology options — could solve this problem." Earlier this year, NBN Co chairman Ziggy Switkowski revealed that Tasmania's NBN rollout would be completed with fibre-to-the-node (FttN).

Switkowski said that pure FttP work would continue until the end of 2014, after which the NBN would transfer over to its multi-technology approach.

"We've now agreed on a multi-technology mode, where we will seek to use existing copper network where we can," he said.

Earlier this month, NBN Co announced that it would add built-in compensation to retail service providers in its wholesale broadband agreement in cases where NBN Co misses an appointment to connect a customer to the NBN.

In its submission, TasICT said it estimated that up to 50 percent of appointments were missed.

"There is anecdotal evidence that some of these appointments are being ignored because contractors arrive at the appointment, identify a difficult or time consuming job and make an assessment it is not worth the rate being offered."

TasICT said that poor experiences for customers was pushing down NBN take-up rates.

Since NBN Co has made state-based rollout numbers available, the number of brownfields premises passed has risen from 32271 at the start of December, to 36117 in the latest statistics available as of April 21, an increase of 3846 premises in almost five months. Throughout the same period, the number of premises able to receive an NBN service in Tasmania has risen by 4464 premises to 30396 in total.

"Without urgent political intervention, the project will continue to fail Tasmania," TasICT said.

"The first-mover NBN advantage once trumpeted as an economic saviour for Tasmania, is gone."

Topics: NBN, Government AU, Australia


Chris started his journalistic adventure in 2006 as the Editor of Builder AU after originally joining CBS as a programmer. After a Canadian sojourn, he returned in 2011 as the Editor of TechRepublic Australia, and is now the Australian Editor of ZDNet.

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  • Pity

    Let us not forget that NBN Contractor mounts the box on the outside of the building, the RSP Mounts the NTU and connects the service - most Tassie customers would be Telstra - (Telstra does have approx 70% of broadband services Aust wide, higher in Rural and Regional and Tassie)

    So do we allow private contractors to rip us all off, NBN should have built up their own construction organisation from the beginning as first priority, this would only have been feasible with Bi Partisan support, even then the LNP and News Ltd. would have been whingeing it should be done by private sector contractors who as normal would fleece a Government enterprise or do shoddy work, which is the path that was disastrously chosen
    Abel Adamski
  • Telstra should manage the NBN rollout.

    The P.M.G / Telecom Australia / Telstra built the old copper network they also built the Sydney to Melbourne and Sydney Brisbane Coaxial cable network. This was later replaced with optical fiber and the expertise gained in doing so was put to use in the vast connection of minor exchanges to the major trunk network. Telstra are the logical organisation to oversee the implimentation of the NBN as they have the expertise in this field whereas private companies are simply amatures punching way above their weight which is what is complicating the project.
    • Dream On

      That was PMG/Telecom did most of that, since then 10's of thousands of the workers that did that have been retrenched.
      Telstra has not even been able to cope with Pit and Duct Remediation or asbestos, their records have been found severely lacking let alone being able to cope with connecting customers to the NBN.
      Remember NBNCo contractors mount the box on the external wall, the RSP actually does the internal actual connection. Telstra has the majority of customers (70%) - so who is not capable of connecting the customers. ?
      Abel Adamski
  • Telstra Has Been Managing the Rollout

    That would likely have been the way to go if the LNP hadn't sold Telstra off in the first place.
    Ever since then Telstra has been managing to resist & delay any & all impromements or infastructure likely to be detrimental to their profit margins.
    Why upgrade to fibre when they can continue milking that 5 mins to midnight copper that will now be good for another 100yrs?

    They weren't gifted the fibre NBN project on their conditions & at a desired profit margin likely to have validated Malcolm's estimated $100+ Billion costs so they stall the project at every opportunity until it collapses & they get back in control on their terms.
    • Plus Ergas's minimum cost

      Of $200 /Month for entry level service, plus their QOS DPI throttling of any Video Competition to their Foxtel and News Ltd.'s SKY Product
      Abel Adamski
  • NBN a Private enterprise failure!

    Private Enterprise has failed, they have not delivered!
    The continuing failure of private businesses to deliver NBN services should be addressed by terminating their contracts, and posting a worldwide competitive tender for the provision of NBN cabling (the tenderers would be allowed to import their own labour, supply accommodation in transportable buildings and be responsible for security).
    Kevin Cobley
  • Telstra should build it..

    We all know that when it finishes somewhere close to 2030 we are going to sell it to Telstra for a fraction of what it costs anyway.. Anyone with half a brain knows that.... government can not run any big infrastructure without cost blowouts and terrible service.. look at telstra itself.. they were rubbish until they had to start answering to shareholders.

    The fully thing is that people are still believing projected time tables and costings even now. Not one prediction on cost or rollout times has been accurate thus far.. That isn't going to change.

    They should have spent the 70+ billion its going to end up costing us to develop and rollout LTE4+ technologies with all the telcos and work together to maximise spectrum for all instead of selling it off willy nilly. Had they all worked together, and got an infusion of cash and support from government, together with good satellite service it would all be going much faster (because it's in telco's best interest to roll it out.. the NBN is not in the telcos interests and so it drags out and blows out over and over again.