The NBN'S 500-page fairy tale

The NBN'S 500-page fairy tale

Summary: Fairy tales take place in some distant land of dragons, knights and damsels in distress. They are not concerned about complex political situations, incumbent telcos and angry shareholders. Building an NBN there would be a comparatively straightforward process and they'd all live happily ever after.


Fairy tales take place in some distant land of dragons, knights and damsels in distress. They are not concerned about complex political situations, incumbent telcos and angry shareholders. Building an NBN there would be a comparatively straightforward process and they'd all live happily ever after.

Unfortunately we don't live in Fairyland, so the NBN has a less straightforward future. Yet KPMG and McKinsey, paid a handsome $25 million to produce a 500-page implementation study, has concluded that it's all good news. "Yes" it can be built and "no" we don't need to fight the angry blue monster.

Yet the document seems to ask more questions than it answers. It adds to the mounting evidence that the whole thing is more complex than the government had ever envisaged and there's no shining knight coming to the rescue. It could all end in a rather bloody mess. Not at all the stuff of children's stories.

On today's Twisted Wire, three cynics, four if you include me, question the value derived from the NBN implementation study and ask whether it provides enough ammunition for the government to push ahead with the whole exercise.

On the panel:

  • John Filmer, former director of Enterprise at Optus
  • Kevin Morgan, independent telco analyst
  • Stilgherrian, from ZDNet Australia's Patch Monday

Running time: 33 minutes, 33 seconds

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Tech Industry


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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  • Many of these commentators forget whats happening around the world with simular setups (i.e. re: wholesale comments).

    Public private venture is still there.

    In regards to comments about Fibre in Hospitals/Educations/etc, same lame **** comments, Singapore, Korea, etc. All have these, and they still build networks.

    It's kinda lame of these commentators, the NBN won't happen till after the election I believe.

    I also like how you guys totally ignored what will happen if Liberals came into power...

    Kevin Morgan still thinks HFC is still valuable.

  • And oh lol.

    Comments about the 6%-7% being 17% in the early days when Telecom was rolling out, is he in the past? The cost of rolling out infrastructure compared back then is dramatically different, even the FCC said that rolling out FTTH accross America would cost about $60 Billion, but they are in a different situation than we are, so they rolling out DSL first then FTTN, whether or not that will happen, remains to be seen.
  • Some of these critics seem not to realise that broadband is now infrastructure, just like roads and libraries. We don't expect a formula-based instant cash return from them either, but they certainly have derived benefits. It doesn't fit into your neat little spreadsheet, so you might as well chuck that away and actually start thinking about what it can help us achieve rather than what you can sell it for.
    Scarlet of Everywhere
  • Actually Scarlet, I think at least two of the four on the podcast (I was one) think the NBN is a good thing. The issue is about how it's being deployed. Clearly the influence of Telstra cannot be ignored, yet the implementation study (worth a read) chose to do just that. I'm critical of the report, not the idea of an NBN.
  • As a long time Telstra/Bigpond customer, the less Telstra have to do with the NBN, the better I'll like it...
  • Perhaps the starting point should be what is in the national interest for planning the network needed for probably the next fifty years. The influence of Telstra cannot be ignored, but it should not be the major determinant of comms policy. Unfortunately, we have suffered for too long from bad decisions based on that premise.
  • the problem Scarlet is that the government is planning to sell the whole thing to the private sector after returning decent profit within 15 years... that is if all assumptions materialised, including Telstra joining the party... at the expense of being imposed a levy if not.
    The problem is not about delivering benefits like infrastructure does, it's about monetizing that. Good spending for governments like you mentioned, not so good for the private eyes paying for what they can profiteer from... they will like to see the neat spreadsheet at the end of the day.
  • telcoboy, at before then, coverage of the network would be dramatically increased before they can actually sell the network. I'm pretty sure there will be a clause in there somewhere saying that (from the Independents and Greens).
  • Phil, Axia Netmedia demonstrated a long time ago, (in the Senate hearings) said that the Government have two paths to choose from:

    1. Rollout with telstra and regulations/legislations to go with it.
    2. Go in on your own.

    I for one think this is the best way of doing it.
  • If ZDnet keep bashing on it instead of reading the reports then yeah, it will probably fail.

    I implore Ziff Zavis net to interview Mike Quigley at length if possible.

    Put your minds at ease.

    Besides a few very minor issues, and the possible inclusion of technology that does not exist yet everyone in Australia could well have very high speed and very affordable broadband.

    Not this 1kbps 'slowest' that is showing up in the broadband speed test (approximately : 9600 bps).

    I was against the whole thing not a year or two ago, now I am a total convert.

    Rally behind Mike Quigley, convince others to do so, and sit back and watch in amazement at what 'Bell Labs' style R&D can really do. (Alcatel-Lucent history).

    Not everyone knows every detail of how to do it, but if people work together it WILL work and it WILL pay for itself.

    Not doing it would be Australia's biggest mistake, just looking back on 'not doing it' in 10 short years will make us all feel like idiots & fools.
  • Hello Scott2010au,

    I too am a convert. I thought at first that it was a massive waste of public funds when the private sector could move in, but have changed my mind somewhere along the last year. I couldn't say exactly what it was that tipped the scales.

    As Phil has said above, his podcast does have two out of four people who are of a similar mind.

    Suzanne Tindal, News Editor