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Australia Government Network The Internet

Australia's National Broadband Network Downgraded 122

RobHart writes "Following election promises to create a 'better, cheaper, sooner' National Broadband Network (NBN), the new Australian government has reneged, announcing instead the NBN will cost $12bn more and take four years longer. The critical change is that the new network is based on Telstra's aging and unreliable copper network rather than fiber to the home, as has already been delivered during the NBN roll out to date."
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Australia's National Broadband Network Downgraded

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  • ... that politicians lied or that government can't handle tech.
    • In between. (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The answer lies in between. Politicians promise large projects [wikipedia.org] and underestimate their cost. They hire the lowest bidder, and the talent running the project is not cream of the crop because that would cost more. The government also has very little competition for large scale projects, so if the project isn't going well, we can't exactly bring in someone else to take it over, like an individual would if a plumber they hired was incompetent.

      Public-Private Partnerships [wikipedia.org] seem to work address a lot of these is

      • Re:In between. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Pav ( 4298 ) on Friday December 13, 2013 @12:14PM (#45680813)
        I know someone who works for an Australian company. They put in a tender for part of the NBN project but IBM won the contract at almost twice the price. IBM then subcontracted the work back to the Australian company. It's strange - Australians seem to underestimate the abilities of their own technical community, and as slaves to community perception Australian governments are particularly bad for this bias. It seems to be part of the national psyche that we're only about agriculture and mining, and local tech comes a poor second to overseas offerings. It's no wonder we're judged an easy mark and regularly overcharged [dailytech.com] for software.
        • It also sounds like someone in government can't write a contract that specifically forbid IBM from subcontracting the whole thing!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I've seen better. A company put in a bid for some subcontracting work, only to realise it was a job that they already subcontracted out to a subcontractor. Australian Government purchasing is so inefficient, subcontracting loops can even form.

      • They hire the highest contributor, and the talent running the project is not cream of the crop because they've already spent the money for technical resources on lobbyists instead.

        Would be more accurate.

        Public-Private Partnerships [wikipedia.org] seem to work address a lot of these issues. Expect to see more of them in the future.

        No, it makes it worse. Public-Private Partnerships is just a fancy Orwellian term for what used to be referred to as Musollini-style Fascism.

      • That is an even worse solution. It is NOT a partnership when one party bribes the other to not do their job. Exclusive contractors may get great monopoly deals but it is easy to find who to blame and a competent media and citizenry have a better chance at keeping things legit. When you distribute the contractors as "partners" and have them collude with each other to corrupt the process it is much harder to debug and to regulate it.

        Remember, government overhead cost $ but so does the profit overhead of effic

      • Long term government projects are more like two plumbers attempting to take the credit for unblocking the toilet and blaming each other for the mess on the floor. The new Oz government is just more vindictive towards it's political enemies than usual.

        A brief history of the NBN:
        Right wing make hay while the sun shines and stash away a $40b "nation building" fund. ($40B is a line item in the US budget but it's lot of money in a country of 20 million)
        Left wing gov come up with NBN plan..
        Academics and
        • Right wing leader is deposed because he was negotiating in good faith with the left on carbon pricing, he is replaced by new leader (Tony).

          Actually, that wasn't it at all. Turnbull's approval rating took a nosedive in the OzCar affair (a.k.a. utegate) [wikipedia.org] and never recovered.

      • except the NBN co is a pubkic-private partnership.

        and almost all of what you said is wrong.

        nice modpointage though.

    • by Bigby ( 659157 )

      Well, a lot of people and institutions can't handle tech...government being one of those. With competition, at least when one fails someone else could theoretically pick up the slack. Government solutions suffer from the same problem monopolistic solutions suffer. Sure, they can do it cheaper, but without any competition in place, how do you keep prices and quality in check, let alone know they are out-of-whack?

    • Speaking as an Aussie I dont really give a rats.

      Look at American politics as a crystal ball in this case. We're damned if we do we're damned if we don't. At the moment Australians' are far too busy suing each other because we boast these horrid levels of self entitlement. All the meanwhile strangle our abilities to produce anything tangible because of ridiculous over regulation (hence why were so busy suing eachother over ludicrous shit, a biproduct of over regulation)

      5 years from now we'll be feeling real

      • You're not an Aussie, you're a pathetic troll who didn't even figure out which party was in power...
        • We may of voted the Libs in but the ALP holds much of the sentate. Call me a Troll if you like. But ignoring the aching problems like a 2/3 reduction in mining growth projection for 2014 and Holden leaving Australia. Carbon tax mate. We are 128th (out of 140) most regulated countries when it comes to business regulation. Our unions. Our legislation in the workplace is making it untenable for people to want to do business in Australia.

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            You mean like those American film companies who come over here to get away from their Unions? I think you need to pay more attention to reality instead of some far right "think tank". Our unions have very little say in anything these days let alone making things "untenable". Is anyone in your workplace even in a union? Apply a bit of critical thought instead of regurgitating a lack of it. You'll need it when you see unions reduced to almost zero relevance over the next few years but somehow those probl
            • Bwahahahahahahaha see readers we have a nation full of this kind of attitude. Two words. Fair Work. Where we see things like this...

              http://www.mondaq.com/australia/x/272244/Employee+Benefits+Compensation/High+Court+says+injury+during+sex+on+a+work+trip+not+in+the+course+of+employment [mondaq.com]

              So... what... our tax payer dollars facilitate this nonsense? How many of these do we see everyday? And at present the unions are presently sueing the last car manufacturer (Toyota) out of the country?

              Sorry you're not only whole

              • by skegg ( 666571 )

                Bwahahahahahahaha yourself.

                From this article [smh.com.au]:

                Toyota is now in a fierce battle with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union over the attempt to reduce workers' conditions at the plant.

                How DARE the union object to conditions being reduced! Perhaps you would also like to see the minimum wage scrapped?

                Through creative accounting, large companies are very adept at crying poor to the government, while at the same time telling their shareholders that they're expecting bumper profits. You need to grow up, mate.

                • Yes I need to grow up because I feel the need to not watch everything this nation once produced get offshored because the Unions STEAL. Yes STEAL. Whilst using the 'poor downtrodden worker' excuse to do so. We cannot muscle companies around just because we can. And in this case their is no need to look out for the little guy. Scrapping minimum wage is a bullshit statement towards me because your pulling my argument to an extreme rightist view just because you think you're cool for doing it.

                  Listen, I'm not w

                  • by skegg ( 666571 )

                    For the record, I am not loyal to any party. Each election I review each party's policies and go with my gut. I think those who blindly follow a party have helped ruin this once fine country.

                    We cannot muscle companies around just because we can.

                    100% agree with you. However I believe unions have a role to play in society. Historically they have been critical to balancing the power between powerful industrialists and the lowly worker. (BTW: why is it that those who most adore free markets object to workers fr

                    • I agree with most of what you've raised. Going back to the days when Unions were indeed an intrgal part of how the country ran. But it's just like cane toads in my view. We introduced them to solve one problem only to create a new one in its place.

                      These days Union officals are akin to mobsters and can be bought and paid for. Saying the Libs are any better by being Murdoch's puppet regarding the NBN is no different.

                      The reality we still have a while before we are in any shape of the way things are turning out

                  • by dbIII ( 701233 )

                    Union slush funds she used to renovate her house

                    That Bolted on bullshit went the way of Godwin Gretch's Ute fraud how many years ago? Try living in reality and I'm sure you'll find something real to get angry with them about. Resorting to fantasy just makes people take you less seriously.

                    • Live in reality? The same reality where thanks to Fair Work I can show up late to work, be bad at my job to the point of near incompetency. My boss gets upset over my lack of performance. I can then quit my job. File a suit against the organisation because I felt 'belittled' by my bosses negative feedback. Win. Then go on to sue my ex boss directly. BTW I come from a long line of HR consultants in the family. This shit gets spoken about over the dinner table.

                      What people get away with in this country will

                    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
                      Go on - try that in reality and see how far you get.

                      Obviously you have not already done so because you've got a better grasp of reality than the tripe you are writing here that you do not believe yourself.
                  • My guess is you have swallowed Rupert and Bolts propaganda very nicely. I'm well over 30, not far off double but there is no way on earth I would vote for Tony and the rightwing nutjobs. They are already behind in the polls, and have been utterly incompetent right from the start. Idiots like you a ruining our country. Luckily it looks like a rerun senate election will be needed in WA and should bring an end to Tonys senate majority, cant wait to see the liberal sycophants howl then.

                    • You're clearly a fine example of why we should start screening people's ability to vote and give it to only those with half a brain ...

                      The senate has barley a chance to pass any new laws yet. The Libs 'just' got into power.

                      See what did I say? They'll blame the Libs for the ALPs fuckups. But please If you're going to do it atleast wait a few months.

                      I thought about it. If someone actually wrote down blow for blow what happened with the ALP leadership. Gave it to a foreigner to read without any prior knowledge

              • by dbIII ( 701233 )
                I give it two years at the most before you understand that I am not delusional, unless you choose to live under a rock.
                Either way the NBN is dead and all that's left is for Ziggy and his mates to suck the corpse dry and blame it on Labor. Expect strange financial adventures in China that fail for no clear reason but result in a lot of money vanishing to nowhere that people can follow. That's one common way to launder public money when something goes semi-private. Telstra did it, state owned power utiliti
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by rtb61 ( 674572 )

            I assume you mean they are making the workplace untenable because they legislate safe working conditions, holiday and sick pay (quality of life issues), workers compensation for injuries caused by work, a living wage, how fucking dare they. Workers are there to be ruthlessly exploited, paid only enough not to starve cents\hour, when they are sick or injured tossed on a trash pile no different to a broken machine and be subject to verbal and physical abuse of the masters at a whim, as for paid time of the s

    • When politicians say "better, cheaper, sooner", you have to first translate it to everyday speech as "worse, costlier, delayed". See? If you had done that, this news couldn't possibly be news to you. It works every time!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Aquitaine ( 102097 )

      While the parent here is certainly right about government projects, it's hard not to imagine that the Australian government didn't know this was coming from day one.

      Ten minutes' study of Australia's geography and population can tell you that this would have been one of the lowest bang-for-the-buck national projects imaginable. Australia is the opposite of South Korea in this respect - it's a massive place with low population density. If running fiber all over it were easy, it would've been done by now.

      It is

      • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:59PM (#45682197) Journal

        The whole point of the NBN is that it's a government chartered corporation that leases access to everyone.

        It was never about the "free-market".
        Instead, the idea was to create a competitive market, on a government built foundation instead of the existing private monopoly/oligopoly.

        Infrastructure investments are almost always worth it, even if the price explodes.

      • by Smauler ( 915644 ) on Friday December 13, 2013 @02:02PM (#45682231)

        Australia is the opposite of South Korea in this respect - it's a massive place with low population density.

        Australia's a bit deceptive in this... there are massive areas where no one lives, which would not need any connections. I guess it's a little like Canada, in a way. If you just take the land area, and divide by the population, you get big numbers. However, those numbers aren't all that useful in figuring out how costly it would be to get broadband to a certain percentage of the population, since no one lives in 90% of the area.

        Also, South Korea is only a little bit smaller than England, with a little bit smaller population. England's broadband is not close to South Korea, despite being a first world western nation.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        It's a very uneven distribution - most people live in a few cities and some narrow coridoors. Satellite was for the rest.

        If running fiber all over it were easy, it would've been done by now.

        Our telephone monopoly has been doing very little other than sitting on what they have since 1996. There is no "free market" here. There is only the monopoly that wins by doing nothing apart from stopping any other competition cropping up or a government doing an end run around that monopoly.

      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        Australia's population is packed into cities..... Optical could have been done to most of the city and other suburbs and regional centres as existing copper ducts and exchanges showed.
        i.e. very much like South Korea in terms of an optical rollout that all telcos/isp can be selected from by the users.
        The rest of the outer regions would have been offered dedicated wireless towers or sat - a vast improvement over some 'tower' or ~digital loop copper network with low adsl if lucky.
        Australia is not tough f
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      The "plan" was a back on the envelope bit of bullshit done overnight by a Lawyer turned businessman turned politician anyway, and it was only designed to be credible enough look good in a short press release. Actual experts were ignored once they mentioned something in the other parties plan so it was left to a small group of political staffers and Turnbul. When questioned about it on morning radio after the announcement the answer to nearly every question was "we'll sort that out later".
      So both.
      Also the
  • The solution obviously is to let the free market sort it out. Obviously the free market wants there to be high speed internet all through Australia, including in the outback. So, government, butt out!

    Perhaps they can get Steve Erwin to catch some kangaroos or something to drag the fiber out?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I feel like this post would have worked better if not for the fact that Steve Irwin has been dead since 2006.

    • Oh, yeah. That'll work ever so well. Everybody will do things in a way that is completely inoperable with every other company and it will be left up to yet another party to integrate it. I mean, it worked great for the American telcos, didn't it?
      • Oh, yeah. That'll work ever so well. Everybody will do things in a way that is completely inoperable with every other company and it will be left up to yet another party to integrate it. I mean, it worked great for the American telcos, didn't it?

        Actually, it wasn't as bad as what Australia is going through now, IIUC. There are issues with rural areas being woefully underserved, and there are many places where the costs are out of line (often because there is only ONE choice of broadband provider in the area), but overall most people have good broadband available.

        I think South Korea has done things very well, and that was with heavy government control. But then South Korea's government is much more functional than either Australia's or the US.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So the underlined text is completely the opposite. it will take less time and cost 20 billion less.

    However id prefer it took longer, cost more but was FIBER TO THE HOME and not copper dsl


  • by Pav ( 4298 ) on Friday December 13, 2013 @11:39AM (#45680457)
    After abusing his control of Australian media [businessinsider.com.au] Murdoch got what he wanted - no NBN to challenge his cable interests.
    • While Murdoch is a prick. He can hardly be blamed for a labor governments incompetence of over promising and underdelivering.
      • by bug1 ( 96678 )

        He can hardly be blamed for a labor governments incompetence of over promising and underdelivering.

        Your really going to go there... in 100 days the Libs have broken more election promises than labor did in 6 years.

        It was Labors internal problems that bought them undone.

        • I never claimed libs are better. Though it would truly be hard to do worse than the previous 6 years at this point. a new set of incompetence and neglect doesn't excuse the grouse mismanagement of the previous government.
          • by bug1 ( 96678 )

            What do you see as the worst things Labor did/didnt do, anything in particular you want to get off your chest ?

      • Did you read that in Murdoch's newspapers?

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        90% of that seems to have been Telstra dragging their feet and not giving access. Funny about that since they are the biggest winner if the NBN is halted. Maybe you should take it up with the Liberal Party folks (and their wives like Janet A) who are on the Telstra board. They win too.
      • Hard to deliver on a multi-government-sitting-term project if the subsequent government dismantles it half way through.

        Labour promised a National Broadband Network by several years away and many houses have already been connected to FTTH. Yeah it's slightly over budget but then name a government project this size which isn't. Heck in terms of percentage over budget it did quite well to date.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 13, 2013 @11:40AM (#45680477)

    One step forward and three steps back.

    Continued investment in poor and aging infrastructure is not smart. Doing it at a greater expense is criminal. This should come at the expense of the jobs of the hacks who made these decisions.

    • It never ceases to amaze me. They're sitting on huge energy reserves, vast amounts of easily defensible space (an isolated continent of their own), have an enormous mining infrastructure--Australia, if it got its head out of its ass, could be a real world superpower, not a lapdog.
  • 12 billion more into a monopoly for the same useless copper? When full fiber to the home could mean divesting the service side of the network and the infrastructure? Sounds like a boondoggle to me.

  • Time to chuck another shrimp on the barbee mate. GDAY!!!!!

    • Internet Architecture Board (IAB)
      Request for Comments: 7102
      Category: Informational
      ISSN: 2070-1721

                      A Standard for the Transmission of IP Datagrams
                                  on Marsupial Carriers

  • by benjfowler ( 239527 ) on Friday December 13, 2013 @12:16PM (#45680833)

    The plutocrats prevailed.

    Telstra snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, and have not only managed to force everyone to pay (again) for their decaying copper network that they themselves ran into the ground, they've now weedled their white-shoe conservative mates in Canberra into letting them set up a tollroad for all Australians far into the future.

    And Murdoch and his evil empire gets to maintain his complete and utter dominance of Australian TV, newspapers and cable.

    Win-win-win all round for all the white shoe tory criminals.

    • by grunter ( 35840 )


      Murdoch has been seriously wounded in the UK, and cannot now command political power in the way that he previously enjoyed.

      So now, despite not actually being Australian any more (he gave up his citizenship to become a US citizen), Australia is pretty much the only place left where he wields significant power, due to News Corp's ownership of the majority of the commercial media in this small market. So now Murdoch has crowned his victory (deposing a decent government whose main flaw was a megalomanica

  • I don't understand how people like Simon Hackett can't get their ideas heard by their government (the same thing happens in the US government, unfortunately). I watched his video [simonhackett.com] a while back and it highlighted how much waste / over engineering was going into their NBN, and his ideas to simplify the service would considerably reduce the cost...

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      A lot of the waste was bribing Telstra to let it be done in the first place and paying off a few other special interests. It's a ridiculous consequence of selling the thing off. I'm sure by now the Telstra sale has been a bigger drain on the taxpayer than gain.
    • Given Simon is now on the NBN board you seem a little behind the news. Simon's smart but he is also a business man, out to make money now Internode is sold.

    • by cas2000 ( 148703 )

      part of the problem is that the labour government were hyper-sensitive to some analog issues.

      in particular, they didn't want to be accused of being anti-old people by forcing horribly distressing new-fangled technology on them. worse, some of the oidies could die if their phone lines were ever out and because digital shit is new, that would be the fault of the NBN whereas an old analog phone being out would be just normal shit happening without anyone to blame.

      as Hackett has said, that analog hole would ha

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Friday December 13, 2013 @12:23PM (#45680911)

    it seems like it was just days ago when they said they couldn't run fiber to the home and were going to use copper to the home:

    http://tech.slashdot.org/story/13/12/05/2025245/australias-44b-broadband-network-may-settle-for-fiber-near-the-home [slashdot.org]

    What are they downgrading to now? A piece of string to the house?

    • by Zuriel ( 1760072 )
      Australian here. Many of us are currently connected to the internet using pieces of string which stop working when it rains and they get wet. That's why we're less than delighted that the new NBN plan calls for running fiber to the end of the street and using the existing pieces of string from there.
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Now they are in the stage of trying to convince people it can't be done at all and shift the blame. So no string either, just a cancelled project they will blame on the other party.
    • They didn't actually downgrade anything - headline is, as per usual, flamebait. They're using the same technology, they just expect to (surprise, surprise) go over-budget and behind schedule. The previous governments NBN's roll-out was also over-budget and behind schedule, so it's really nothing to do with the technology chosen - it's the tendency of politicians from both parties to over-promise and under-deliver.

  • Say, a government project delayed, over budget, and under-delivering... But it would bring health-insu..., errr, never mind, broadband to millions of the poor! Only a racist can object...

  • ATT did a similar thing in the US. They started out promising FTTP, and I believe, received govt. $$$ (from the Uniform Subscriber Fee). Over the years, they down-graded it to FTTN, and now are merely converting their copper lines to IP-based (still called U-Verse). The bad news is that their FTTN (and of course all-copper) has much less bandwidth than the cable company's coax networks. Don't you guys have coax cable over there?

    • Don't you guys have coax cable over there?

      Almost no coax in Australia, maybe a few suburbs in Sydney and Melbourne...

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      "HFC" in Australia was rolled out for pay tv in areas like state capitols.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_in_Australia#Cable_television [wikipedia.org] lists the cities.
      Australia is all about keeping 'pay tv' in the existing hands and keeping out new streaming services. Optical would have allowed a new level entry to many new digital streaming media offerings.
      So now Australia will be back onto telco copper, HFC and optical for new builds (greenfield). That keeps millions of people trapped on HFC streets with
  • The only real news is that a politician kept their pre-election promise.

    During the campaign Rupert Murdoch ^w^w Typhoon Tony PROMISED fibre (probably) to the street (or near the street (or somewhere, anyway)) and whatever Telstra had left after a lot of neglect to the home. Not this [sarcasm] unnecessary luxury [/sarcasm] of fibre to the home.

  • It can cost more because the real numbers are starting to surface. The pre-election numbers were based on published data which was wrong. Right now the predictable capital expenses of this project are growing at rate that is out of control. There are also some major labour shortages as there are only so many people who can put the fibre in the ground -- mostly due to very old rules about certifications needed to work on anything involving electricity or working in a telco pit.

    The first step of the new f

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Replacing that was expected to cost about $5,000 or now $7,000 per house at today's costs

      Oh look, a leak [delimiter.com.au] from late September that shows you to be completely wrong! I'd respond to the rest of your nonsense as well, but you're a shill and that would be wasting my time.

  • The current national Liberal Party policy seems to be limited to 1) balance the budget without added revenue, and 2) cut revenues they don't feel they should collect. The result is that the mining tax will go away, and due to very low tariffs and deletion of subsidies that ameliorate the effects of the strong AU$ that Aussie ores create, most manufacturing will go away. Ford and Holden closing up shop is just part of the trend.

    So, yah want an information economy to go with those fries? Sorry mate, costs mor

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