National Broadband Network

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The National Broadband Network (NBN) is an Australian national wholesale open-access data network project with both wired, and radio communication components being rolled out and operated by NBN Co Limited (nbn™).

Rationales for this national telecommunications infrastructure project included replacing the existing copper cable telephony network which is approaching end of life,[note 1] and the rapidly growing demand for internet access to support a growing range of services.

The largest infrastructure project in Australia's history,[1] it has been the subject of significant political contention and was an issue in the 2013 federal election.[2][3]

As originally proposed wired connections would have provided up to 100 Mbit/s, later increased to 1 Gbit/s; after the election of the Abbott government in 2013 this was downgraded to a minimum of 25 Mbit/s.[4][5][6][7]

The first Rudd government had proposed to develop a modern optical fibre telecommunications network to provide broadband access to 93% of the Australian population at 100 Mbit/s, with those areas and people outside the network footprint to be provided broadband access through fixed wireless and geosynchronous telecommunications satellite.[8]

Tony Abbott, as Leader of the Opposition, and Malcolm Turnbull, as Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband, stated in 2010 that in government they would 'demolish' the NBN.[9][10] In 2012 however, they stated that in government they would take an 'agnostic' approach.[11] They argued that the demand for such a service was not significant,[note 2] and thus the estimated cost was too high and the timeline for implementation too long.

With the election of the Abbott government in 2013, rollout of Fibre to the Premises was limited to those areas already in development with a delay on new development imposed as Turnbull (then Minister for Communications) appointed a number of committees to advise him on future directions. Later implementation of the Multi-Technological Mix (MTM) began with the promise of earlier completion and significant cost savings compared to the earlier approach. The predominant change was the adoption of a mixed copper-optical technology with Fibre to the Node (FTTN).

Retail service providers (RSPs), typically Internet Service Providers, contract with nbn™ to access the NBN and sell fixed internet access to end users.

The NBN network, at 2017, draws together wired communication: copper, optical and hybrid fibre-coaxial; and radio communication: satellite and fixed wireless networks at 121 Points of Interconnect (POI) typically located in Telstra owned telephone exchanges throughout Australia. It also sells access for mobile telecommunication backhaul to mobile telecommunications providers.[12]

nbn has stated that there is no significant demand for wired connections above 25 Mbit/s and consideration of upgrading the network will not be undertaken until demand for high-bandwidth services is proven.[13]

Bill Morrow, CEO of nbn, has admitted that 15% of end users are receiving a poor service through the NBN and are 'seriously dissatisfied'.[14] In addition, Morrow indicated that, at July 2017, prices and performance for end users are suppressed through a 'price war' between RSPs.[15][16]

NBN technologies[edit]

A schematic illustrating how FTTx architectures vary with regard to the distance between the optical fibre and the end user. The building on the left is the telephone exchange; the buildings on the right are served by the exchange. Dotted rectangles represent separate living or business spaces within the same building.

As initially developed under the Rudd and Gillard governments, the NBN connected end user premises through a retail service provider (RSP) to the NBN network through:

Following the election of the Abbott government in 2013 the approach for the NBN changed to a mix of wired technologies, the NBN was to connect through a Multi-Technology Mix (MTM), the MTM comprised:

  • Wired communication
    • Fibre to the Node (FTTN) (a minimum of 25 Mbit/s) - a mixed copper/optical technology, to provide most NBN connections, replaces FTTP as the preferred technology.
    • Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) - is available for greenfield development
    • Hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) - was to be shut down, the Telstra HFC network is being maintained, the Optus network to be upgraded to FTTC.
    • and from 2017, Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) previously called Fibre to the distribution point (FTTdp), replacing Optus HFC.
  • Radiocommunication
    • fixed wireless
    • Sky Muster telecommunications satellites

Under the MTM, an upgrade path is available given the limitations of the technologies in use; the Technology Choice Program was developed, both for areas and premises.

NBN Network Design Rules[edit]

Detailed NBN Network Design Rules as required by the Special Access Undertaking agreed by NBN Co and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have been released dated:

  • 19 December 2011[17]
  • 18 September 2012[18]
  • 30 June 2016[19]

Points of Interconnect (POI)[edit]

How RSPs and wholesalers connect to the NBN.

121 Points of Interconnect provide Layer 2 network access to RSPs.[20][21][22]

Originally, NBN Co planned for a more centralised model with only 14 POIs; however, it was overruled by the Federal Government on the advice from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The ACCC considered the plan to be 'mission creep' and would have given NBN Co a monopoly over backhaul; however, NBN Co said centralised model would have allowed smaller RSPs to connect without going through a wholesale aggregator.[23] ACCC recommended 121 Pols after public consultation.[20]

Internode criticised the 'insane'[24] number of POIs and after its pricing announcement warned it might have to charge more in regional areas because of the increase costs.[25] In response, Shadow Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull said the 'government can't deliver on a crucial promise' of 'national uniform pricing'; however, Minister for Communications, Stephen Conroy said we 'guaranteed uniform wholesale pricing' not retail pricing.[26]

Network termination devices (NTD)[edit]

A Network Termination Device (NTD) is a customer-side network interface device used by the Australian National Broadband Network, with different NTDs for FTTP, fixed wireless and Sky Muster satellite. The device provides multiple bridges to the NBN. Depending on the kind of link, up to two telephony and four data services can be purchased from an NBN Retail Service Provider (RSP).

Technicians sometimes refer to NTDs for fixed wireless as IDU (Indoor Unit) in contrast with the antenna, which is called an Outdoor Unit (ODU). The User Guide for NBN Fixed Wireless Connection refers to the devices as the NBN Connection Box and NBN Outdoor Antenna, respectively.

All but FTTN and FTTC use a NTD on premises. An external power source is required to power the NTD. An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) can be used to power the NTD to maintain connection to the telecommunications network in case of an electrical power outage, with a backup battery available for the FTTP NTD,

All technologies except Fibre to the Node (FTTN) and Fibre to the Curb (FTTC, previously called Fibre to the distribution point (FTTdp)) provide User Network Interface (UNI) jacks (modular jacks for data (UNI-D, RJ45)) in premises. FTTN and FTTC each require premises to have a compatible VDSL2 modem. FTTC requires power to be provided from the premises to the kerb (distribution point).

Each UNI-D port can be activated by the retail service provider for a different NBN service. The NTD cannot be used as a router for in premises networking. If only one data connection is required it can be achieved through the active NTD UNI-D jack.

Network Termination Device (NTD)
Technology NTD Supplier Protocol UNI-V jacks UNI-D jacks legacy telephony Voice over IP Notes
FTTP NBN Co GPON 2 4 yes yes
FTTN No, end user modem VDSL2 1 0 no yes may have 600 series plug in place instead of UNI-V
FTTC No, end user or NBN Co modem. Not yet specified VDSL2 1 0 no yes

previously FTTdp
may have 600 series plug in place instead of UNI-V
modem supplier not yet specified.
power supplied from end user premises to Distribution Point Unit at kerb.[27]

HFC NBN Co DOCSIS 3.0 0 0 no yes Delivered over Telstra's HFC network, now owned by NBN Co
Fixed wireless NBN Co LTE 0 4 no yes where a plain old telephone service is in place, this can be kept
Satellite NBN Co 0 4 no yes where a plain old telephone service is in place, this can be kept

Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)[edit]

The FTTP network.

Fibre to the premises (FTTP) connects using Ethernet over a gigabit passive optical network (GPON) from the POI to the premises. Initially the preferred technological solution, it is now an option for greenfield development with limited use for new or replacement connections.

The premises[edit]

In the end user premises, the NBN NTD provides UNI jacks with registered jacks for voice (UNI-V, RJ11) and modular jacks for data (UNI-D, RJ45).

Voice services can be provided through either UNI-V (UNI-V provides for support of legacy telephony services), or UNI-D jack (through Voice over IP through data jacks).

Data networking in the premises requires a router and/or wireless access point.

The FTTP network[edit]

NBN fibre distribution hub (FDH)

Premises within the FTTP footprint are connected using ethernet over a gigabit passive optical network (GPON) giving a peak speed of one gigabit per second.[28][29]

A 'drop fibre' fibre-optic cable runs from the premises to a 'local network' which links a number of premises to a splitter in a fibre distribution hub.[30] A 'distribution fibre'[31] cable connects the splitter in the distribution hub to a fibre access node (FAN), which is connected to a POI.[30]

Only the fibre access nodes and the equipment on premises require a power supply.[32][33]

The FTTP network architecture comprises a number of replicating modules which is combined to make up the FTTP network.[34] A fibre distribution area includes up to 200 premises linked up to a fibre distribution hub. A fibre serving area module comprises 16 fibre distribution areas, which services up to 3,200 premises.[34]

A fibre serving area comprises 12 fibre serving area module connected to a fibre access node, which services up to 38,400 premises. During the 10-year construction, NBN Co plans to build or lease approximately 980 fibre serving areas, servicing up to 37,632,000 premises.[34]

Fibre to the node (FTTN)[edit]

Fibre to the node cabinet, located near a Distribution Area pillar.

The premises[edit]

The existing copper connections are maintained with existing plugs being used. Plugs may be either 600 series or UNI-D, RJ45 (properly 8C8C). The end user accesses the network using a VDSL2 modem (typically purchased from the retail Internet Service Provider).

Voice services are provided by VOIP where supported by the modem.

FTTN network[edit]

Optical fibre goes from the exchange to a node. A run of brand new copper goes from the node to the existing DA (Distribution Area) pillars, then a copper pair runs to each home or business. Each node can serve up to 384 homes.

Fibre to the Curb[edit]

Previously Fibre to the Distribution Point (FTTdp)[35]

Premises[edit]

Access in premises to the network is through existing copper connections with existing plugs being used. Plugs may be either 600 series or UNI-D, RJ45 (properly 8C8C). End users will access the network using a VDSL2 modem.

Voice services are provided by VOIP where supported by the modem.

FTTC network[edit]

Optical fibre cable is run past each home or business, and is connected to the existing copper lines of each home or business via a small Distribution Point Unit, each powered by the respective home or business.[36]

Hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC)[edit]

HFC is legacy technology purchased by NBN Co from Telstra[37] and Optus, the Telstra HFC network is being maintained, it was found that the Optus HFC network was uneconomic to bring up to an acceptable standard, with connections now to be provided by FTTC.[38]

There is no upgrade path for Telstra HFC-connected premises.

The premises[edit]

With HFC, a cable modem provides networking and VOIP telephony.

Fixed wireless[edit]

Carried over - 2,600 transmission towers connected by optical fibre to exchanges will use TD-LTE 4G mobile broadband technology to cover around 500,000 premises.

The premises[edit]

The premises in the fixed wireless footprint will be hooked up to an antenna allowing a connection to a wireless base station.

NBN Co provides a modem with 4 UNI-D ports. Telephone connections are by VOIP. Where a copper connection is available users requiring connections during electrical power outages are encouraged to keep that.

Fixed wireless network[edit]

Network Termination Device for fixed wireless
External antenna (ODU) for fixed wireless

A 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) fixed wireless network[39] will link premises to a base station in turn linked to a POI via a backhaul.[40][41]

The 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz spectrums[42] will be used to deliver these fixed wireless services covering approximately 4 per cent of the population outside the fibre footprint.[39] Unlike the mobile networks, only premises can connect to the NBN's fixed wireless network.[43] NBN Co bought spectrum from Austar for A$120 million in February 2011,[44] with the remaining spectrum covering areas in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia, outback Queensland and New South Wales were bought on 13 July 2011 for A$1.3 million in an auction by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. NBN Co said the spectrum bought from Austar and in the auction covers 'all the geographic coverage it needed' to build its fixed wireless network.[45]

2,600 transmission towers connected by optical fibre to exchanges will provide TD-LTE 4G mobile broadband technology to cover around 500,000 premises.

The number of premises assigned to each base station will also be limited[46] to ensure users received a 'good service' because of the 'high[er] throughput'.[46] Users at the edge of the coverage for each base station will receive a peak speed of 12 megabits per second, the speed increases 'considerably' moving closer to the base station.[47]

NBN contracted with Ericsson on 1 June 2011 to design, build and operate the network with options to extend the contract for up to 10 years at a total cost of A$1.1 billion. Construction commenced in 2011, with the first five locations announced as the regional and rural communities surrounding Geraldton, Toowoomba, Tamworth, Ballarat and Darwin.[48] The first services are scheduled to begin in 2012 and completion in 2015.[39]

Satellite service[edit]

Interim satellite service (to 28 February 2017)[edit]

While the planning continued on the two satellites launch in 2015-2016, NBN Co launched interim satellite services on 1 July 2011, providing up to six megabits per second.[49] Due to the limited satellite capacity, these services were given to customers who did not have access to alternative 'metro comparable' services, similar to the Federal Government's Australian Broadband Guarantee (ABG) program which ended on 30 June 2011.[49] The criteria for alternative 'metro comparable' services were minimum data speeds of at least 512 kilobits per second, a 3GB per month data allowance and a total price to the end customer of no more than A$2,500 over three years.[50] To provide these services NBN Co bought managed satellite services and satellite capacity from Optus for $200 million and additional satellite capacity from IPstar[51] for A$100 million.[52]

Interim satellite service is to switch off on 28 February 2017[53]

Long-term satellite – Sky Muster satellite[edit]

Two Sky Muster satellites[54] provide NBN services to locations outside the reach of other technologies, including Christmas Island, Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands.

The premises[edit]

A satellite dish is installed on the premises with NBN Co providing a NTD with 4 UNI-D ports. Telephone connections are by VOIP.

Where a copper connection is available users requiring connections during electrical power outages are encouraged to keep that.

Sky Muster satellite network[edit]

NBN Co had contracted Space Systems/Loral to build and launch two Ka band satellites in 2015 at a total cost of A$2 billion,[55] each offering eighty gigabits per second of bandwidth.[56][57] The first satellite called Sky Muster (NBN-Co 1A) was launched on 1 October 2015.[58]

The eighty gigabits per second of bandwidth each Ka band satellites offers is an improvement on the four to six gigabits per second capacity available from earlier interim satellites.[46][56][57] The satellites bounce signals from a satellite dish on the premises to an earth station, known as a 'gateway'; the gateway is then connected to a POI via a fibre backhaul.[41][59] The satellite design was 'not easy', because the required coverage is about 'five per cent of the world's land mass' containing 'at least 200,000 premises' spread across 'over 7,000 kilometres' of area between Cocos Islands and Norfolk Island.[46]

Sky Muster I (NBN-Co 1A) was launched on 1 October 2015[58] from the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana, South America, alongside Argentina's ARSAT-2, on an Ariane 5ECA rocket. It became operational in April 2016.[60]

Sky Muster II (NBN-Co 1B) was launched on 5 October 2016, it will operate in geostationary orbit of 145° East.[61][62]

Technology Choice Program: Area Switch and Individual Premises Switch[edit]

The Technology Choice Program provides the option for areas and users to upgrade the technology of their connection (all except HFC connections).[63][64]

  • Areas are able to switch from:
    • FTTB to FTTP
    • FTTN to FTTP
    • Fixed wireless to FTTP
    • Fixed wireless to FTTN
    • Fixed wireless to FTTB
    • Satellite to Fixed wireless
    • Satellite to FTTP
    • Satellite to FTTN
    • Satellite to FTTB
  • Individual premises to FTTP.

The technology choice program has had limited take-up: at 23 March 2017 with 221 applications received; 113 proceeded to obtaining a quote, and 30 upgrading their connection at an average cost of A$7,395.[65]

Issues for end users[edit]

End users of the NBN have found difficulty identifying who is responsible for addressing NBN performance issues.[66]

Voice over IP[edit]

Voice over IP services on FTTN may require the use of a VDSL modem supplied by the retail service provider (RSP). Whilst a number of RSPs publish the necessary settings to enable Voice over IP whilst connecting to the NBN using third party modems, others, including Telstra do not.[67]

FTTN[edit]

FTTN is a shared services and subject to network congestion.[68]

FTTN is reliant on:

  • the length of the copper cable. Where the length of copper exceeds 400 m for FTTN (or 150 m for FTTC) speeds will drop off.[69]
  • the quality of the copper connection. Where the copper has been degraded service reliability and or speed will be affected.

FTTN installation issues:

  • relating to existing telephony wiring compatibility with VDSL2.[70]
  • affecting speed, for example, Craig Levy, Chief operating officer at TPG, stated, '... with NBN FTTN we are not allowed to lodge a fault unless the line performs less than 12 Mbit/s sync speed.'[71]

FTTN issues of VDSL2 modem compatibility with NBN FTTN, with non-compatible equipment leading to port locking.[72] NBN Co does not make public a list of compliant modems.[73]

HFC[edit]

HFC is a shared services and subject to network congestion.[68]

Sky Muster satellite[edit]

Sky Muster satellite connections to the NBN have issues of regarding response times and limited data allowances.

Ongoing extended Sky Muster satellite outages, with ongoing work to improve service.[74][75]

Fixed wireless[edit]

Fixed wireless connections to the NBN have issues of regarding response times and limited data allowances.

Connection speeds[edit]

The failure to provide accurate information on broadband speeds possible and/or available, including for premises able to connect to the NBN has been identified as a significant issue for end users by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC).[76][77] The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, from May 2017, will operate a broadband performance monitoring program.[78][79]

Retail service providers[edit]

NBN Co wholesales Layer 2 network access to retail service providers (RSP) who connect their network to the NBN at a POI.[80] by,[21] allowing internet access and other services, to be sold to end users.[21]

Pricing to RSPs is uniform within each of the technologies regardless of where the service is delivered and across the technologies for the basic package.[81] To provide this uniform pricing, regional and rural areas will be cross-subsidised with the lower cost metropolitan areas. However, as RSP costs may vary retail prices may vary between RSPs.

At February 2017, there were over 50 Retail Service Providers for NBN based services, with three (Telstra, Optus and TPG) having 83% of the market.[82][83] Fibre and fixed wireless plans start from $29.90 per month for the lowest tier of 12/1 megabit per second download/upload speeds and $59.99 for the highest speed tier of 100/40 megabit per second download/upload speeds.[84]

Connectivity[edit]

To prevent other potential providers from undercutting NBN Co in metropolitan areas, new fibre networks are required to be open access and charge similar prices; these rules are known as the 'anti-cherry picking' provisions, which were passed into law with other NBN legislation.[85]

Political and industry responses[edit]

Political responses[edit]

When the Rudd Labor opposition first broached the proposal to develop and put in place a national broadband program it was dismissed by the Howard government as unnecessary. It was argued that an upgrade the current copper networks where 'commercial solutions were not always viable' would address the need.[86]

The Coalition initially described the NBN as a 'dangerous delusion'[87]

National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce said the NBN mirrors a proposal released by their think tank, saying it 'delivers a strategic infrastructure outcome' and it is 'vitally important that the [NBN] gets to the corners of our country where the market has failed'.[88]

Independent MPs Rob Oakeshott,[89] Tony Windsor,[90] Bob Katter[91] and Andrew Wilkie[92] have expressed support for the NBN. Bob Katter said the NBN is 'a great thing for this country'.[91] Tony Windsor said the NBN is 'too good an opportunity to miss'.[90] Family First Party leader Steve Fielding said the NBN will 'bring [Australia] up to speed'.[93]

The size of the government investment in the NBN has been a key point of debate. The Coalition called for a cost-benefit analysis, describing the NBN as 'a white elephant on a massive scale'.[94] The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) criticised the NBN as a 'huge cost to the public sector',[95] instead advocating a policy focused on filling 'gaps'.[96]

The Greens said the NBN 'is a key piece of 21st century infrastructure'.[97]

Telecommunications stakeholders[edit]

Telecommunication companies Optus,[98][99] iiNet,[98][99] Internode,[98] and Vodafone-Hutchison,[99] have expressed support for the project, along with the Australian Internet Industry Association, which said optical fibre solutions are 'a critical part in the evolution of the internet'.[100] Internode managing director Simon Hackett said he was 'glad [the NBN is] going to go ahead'.[98] Vodafone-Hutchison CEO Nigel Dews said the NBN will 'transform the competitive landscape'.[99] However, other telecommunications companies including AAPT,[101] PIPE Networks[102] and Exetel[103] have expressed opposition to the NBN. AAPT chief executive Paul A. Broad said the NBN will 'stifle competition'.[101] PIPE Networks founder Bevan Slattery said the NBN is 'economically irresponsible'.[102] Exetel chief executive John Linton described the NBN as a 'political stunt'.[103]

Microsoft, Google and Intel have expressed their support for the NBN.[98][99] Google's head of engineering, Alan Noble, said the NBN will 'be the greatest enabler of innovation'. Intel managing director Philip Cronin said 'the NBN has the potential to deliver significant long term benefits'.[98] The Swinburne University of Technology conducted a survey of Australian Internet usage for the World Internet Project between September 2009 and October 2009. The survey of 1,000 people asked about Internet usage and how it influences daily life.[104] A question was included asking if the NBN was a 'good idea'; 74.5 per cent agreed.[105] In the survey, the NBN had stronger support among younger people and Internet users.[106]

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)[edit]

Given the market failure found in attempting to develop and implement the replacement telecommunications network a natural monopoly has been set up with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) safeguarding the interests of end users, access seekers and NBN Co. This is achieved through NBN Co entering into a Special Access Undertaking to govern aspects of NBN design, service and charging until 2040, agreed 2013.[107][108]

Progress[edit]

At 3 November 2013, construction of the network had passed 354,793 premises and there were 109,862 active customer services.[109] In areas where the FTTP network is being rolled out, a similar agreement with Optus is in place.

At 30 June 2015, the company announced 1,011,973 premises are now able to order NBN services. Of that, 571,527 brownfields and 180,796 greenfields premises are able to order fixed-line services, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said. An additional 220,917 premises are able to order services in fixed wireless, and 38,743 premises have connected to the interim satellite service.[110] There were 485,615 active users.[111]

At 30 June 2016, the company had passed 2,893,474 premises across all technologies.[112] Company annual revenue was $421 million compared to $164 million in 2015 financial year, with approximately 1,100,000 active user at June 30.[111]

Coverage[edit]

Some of these areas are 'brownfield' that have been provided directly by the NBN Co, but many are new 'greenfield' areas that are new subdivisions that did not have an existing telephone.[113] All greenfield developments must provide fibre, at a cost to the developer (and thus home owner).[114] Most of the brown field areas are near existing exchanges, which presumably already had ADSL. It is still unknown if the existing brown fields developments will get direct fibre (FTTP) due to already having a telephone service and a basic ADSL internet connection. These premises may one day receive FTTN instead of FTTP via their existing copper services.

The NBN Corporate Plan 2011-2013[115] estimated approximately 13 million premises to be covered by the NBN, 12 million using fibre (FTTP). However this plan was abandoned by the incoming Liberal government in 2013.

Blackspots[edit]

In February 2014 the government produced a new MyBroadband[116] website that provided information about existing access to the Internet. It showed that there were 1.6 million premises across Australia which have either no access to fixed broadband or very poor broadband connectivity.[117]

The minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that they would be a somewhat higher priority.[118] However, he has given no explicit direction to the NBN to address them.[119]

There is concern that the NBN will continue to focus on areas that already have relatively fast copper broadband, and thus avoid addressing people that have no or very limited broadband for the foreseeable future.[118][120] In May 2014 then NBN announced that it would be targeting premises that were already serviced with fibre by rival TPG.[121]

Customer uptake[edit]

Premises are considered 'passed' when 'all design, construction, commissioning and quality assurance activities in a FSAM (Fibre Servicing Area Module) have been completed for the Local network and Distribution network'.[122] Certain premises classed as 'service class zero' which require extra internal construction such as apartments, town houses, shopping arcades and industrial complexes may not be able to order services, even though their premises has been passed. As of 31 March 2015, 64,102 premises of the 722,031 premises passed were classed as being 'service class zero'—being "the Service Class that applies to a Premises that is not NBN Serviceable for the purposes of the NFAS but is in the footprint of the NBN Co Fibre Network."[123]

NBN Co's stated their usage of 'premises passed' was an 'accepted industry definition'.[122] However, their corporate plan defined 'premises passed' as places where 'NBN services may be ordered and purchased',[124] causing NBN Co to be accused of 'creative accounting'.[125]

There is no aggregate data on broadband speeds possible for premises able to connect to the NBN, this has been identified as a significant issue for end users by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC).[76][77]

Total number of active NBN connections by access technology[edit]

Shows the cumulative number of active NBN connections, grouped by access technology (e.g. fibre-to-the-node, satellite).

Total number of active NBN connections by access technology
(December 2016)

Speed tier percentage per NBN connection type[edit]

Shows the speed tier as a percentage of total active connections of each NBN connection type (fixed line, satellite and wireless). A customer can choose any speed tier that is available for their service; the speed tier is the maximum download/upload limit of the service.

Speed tier percentage per NBN connection type
(December 2016)

Half-yearly data[edit]

The tabulated data of half-yearly statistics for active NBN connections. An active NBN connection is where construction has been completed and a customer has ordered and activated an NBN service.

Half-yearly data
Total number of active NBN connections by access technology
(rounded to nearest '00)
2011[126][127] 2012[126][128][129] 2013[130][131] 2014[128] 2015[132][133] 2016[134][135]
Jun Dec Jun Dec Jun Dec Jun Dec Jun Dec Jun Dec
Fixed Wireless N/A N/A 91 1 000 1 900 6 500 16 600 27 800 47 500 82 400 117 500 154 000
FttN N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 6 600 119 700 449 300
FttP 600 2 300 3 900 10 400 33 600 80 100 151 100 253 800 399 900 611 000 822 700 969 700
HFC N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 10 14 600
Satellite 200 1 700 9 600 23 100 34 600 44 200 43 000 40 700 38 300 36 000 38 800 64 900
Total 800 4 000 13 600 34 500 70 100 130 800 210 700 322 300 485 700 736 000 1 098 700 1 652 500
Speed tier percentage per NBN connection type:
(Down/Up, Mbps)
Fixed line:
(FttN, FttP, HFC)
12/1 ~43% 38% 35% 33% 32% 31%
25/5 ~30% 38% 42% 45% 49% 51%
25/10 ~1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1%
50/20 ~4% 4% 4% 5% 4% 4%
100/40 ~22% 19% 18% 16% 14% 13%
Satellite (Sky Muster):
12/1 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 26% 33%
25/5 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 74% 67%
Wireless:
12/1 ~65% 26% 20% 17% 16% 17%
25/5 ~35% 74% 80% 83% 81% 79%
50/20 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3% 4%

Timeline of the NBN[edit]

2007[edit]

A fast broadband initiative was announced in the run-up to the 2007 federal election by the Labor opposition with an estimated to cost of A$15 billion including a government contribution of A$4.7 billion which would be raised in part by selling the Federal Government's remaining shares in Telstra.

The Labor Party Rudd government was elected on 24 November 2007 and soon after initial planning and work was commenced. The NBN was originally to deliver its wholesale service through fibre to the node (FTTN) and reach approximately 98% of premises in Australia by June 2021. A new satellite network would be built to reach those outside the FTTN footprint.

2008[edit]

An initial request for proposal (RFP) to build the NBN was issued but not proceeded with. Those organisations lodging compliant proposals were not able to meet the requirements nor able to raise the necessary capital. A non-compliant proposal was received from Telstra and they were excluded from consideration.

It was estimated that capital expenditure of the project was to be A$43 billion, later revised to A$37.4 billion. The project was to be financed by a combination of a Federal Government investment of A$30.4 billion and private investment for the remainder.

Dividends were to be paid after completion in 2021 to the Federal Government, with the government's contribution repaid by 2034. A return on investment of 7.1% was expected on revenue of A$23.1 billion by 2021.

2009[edit]

The Rudd Government announced it would bypass the existing copper network by constructing a new national network combining fibre to the premises (FTTP), fixed wireless and satellite technologies.

Tasmania was selected for a trial deployment based on the Tasmanian Government's submission to the RFP.

A forced structural separation of Telstra was threatened but not proceeded with.

The NBN Co was established on 9 April 2009 and Mike Quigley appointed chief executive officer on 25 July 2009.

2010[edit]

An implementation study was commissioned in April 2009 and released on 6 May 2010 by the Rudd Government.

In April 2010, NBN Co issued a request for tender (RFT) for the major FTTP rollout. Fourteen vendors submitted a proposal; however, NBN Co suspended the process on 1 April 2011, as the prices were 'unacceptably high'.

The first FTTP customers were connected in July 2010.

The Gillard government was elected at the Australian federal election, 2010. As a minority government priority was given to regional and rural areas, areas from which supporting cross-bench MPs were elected. An increase in the peak speed to one gigabit per second was announced in response to Google Fiber developments in the USA.

The NBN Co business plan was released on 20 December 2010, including forecasts and network design incorporating these priorities.

Tasmania was selected as the first state for FTTP rollout. A three stages trial rollout. Stage one was announced on July 2009 with the first customers being connected a year later. Stages two and three were announced on 21 October 2009 and 1 March 2010, respectively.

2011[edit]

The Parliament passed the National Broadband Network Companies Act 2011 and a related bill on 28 March 2011.

The RFT of April 2010 was suspended process on 1 April 2011, as the prices were 'unacceptably high'.

NBN Co entered into an agreement worth up to A$380 million with Silcar on 1 June 2011. The agreement covers the construction of the NBN in Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT by Silcar, a company joint-owned by Siemens and Thiess. The agreement includes the option of a two-year extension with an additional value of A$740 million.

NBN Co signed an agreement with Telstra on 23 June 2011 estimated to be worth A$9 billion post-tax net present value, building upon the signing of a financial heads of agreement a year beforehand. Telstra was not required to separate retail and wholesale operations, rather it agreed to 'disconnect' its Internet customers from the copper and hybrid fibre-coaxial networks in areas where FTTP has been installed, and agreed to lease dark fibre, exchange space and ducts to NBN Co. Telstra would not be able to market their mobile network as an alternative to the NBN for a number of years.

NBN Co signed an agreement with Optus on 23 June 2011 estimated to be worth A$800 million post-tax net present value over its hybrid fibre-coaxial network.

Five areas comprising around 14,000 premises were chosen as the 'first mainland sites', each representing rollout challenges the NBN was expecting to face during an Australia-wide rollout, with the first services going live on 19 April 2011.

Following the low take up rates in Tasmania, the government has adopted an opt-out model in which users are assumed to want the service unless they explicitly opt-out.

Fourteen second release sites comprising 54,000 premises in all states and territories were announced on 8 July 2010 with construction commencing in August 2011.

Telstra allowed NBN Co to use its exchanges and ducts in the second release sites before agreement with Telstra was finalised.

2012[edit]

Significant attacks were made by the Liberal/National Coalition opposition leading up to the 2013 election. These focused on the estimated cost and timeline for implementation. The build cost had been a key point of debate.

2013[edit]

The MTM was selected as the approach to broadband provision by the Liberal–National coalition in the lead up to the 2013 Australian federal election.

After the 2013 election, the Abbott government, with Malcolm Turnbull as Minister for Communications, announced immediate changes to the NBN: most of the NBN Co Board was asked to resign; Ziggy Switkowski was appointed Chairman; and rollout will be move from FTTP to 'alternative technologies' such as Fibre to the Node.

A number of studies and a strategic review into the NBN were commissioned. The strategic review was to determine the ideal infrastructure mix to deliver fast broadband across the country as quickly as possible and reduce establishment costs.[136][note 3]

On 12 December 2013, the NBN Board appointed Bill Morrow as NBN Co's new CEO, replacing Mike Quigley.

Telstra asserted its intention to retain the $11bn value it generates from the previous government's deal.

Delays occurred in 2013 when work was stopped for several weeks at a number of sites after asbestos was found in Telstra pits.

Malcolm Turnbull announced the Multi-Technology Mix (MTM) promising significant savings and earlier completion. The MTM added: Fibre to the node (FTTN) as the preferred technology; and kept Hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) (previously planned to be shut down).

At 3 November 2013, construction of the network had passed 354,793 premises and there were 109,862 active customer services.

2014[edit]

In April 2014, The Australian newspaper judged the NBN rollout in Tasmania, its first location, as 'shambolic' and 'abysmal'.[137]

The final MTM approach was finalised. Initial costs and timing for the Coalition NBN were A$29.5 billion of public funding to construct by 2019.

2015[edit]

Mike Quigley, the past CEO, publicly attacked the NBN and the MTM, noting cost blowouts and delays that he said were the fault of changes made by the Coalition government to the rollout plan.[138][139][140][141][142][143]

At 30 June 2015, 1,011,973 premises were able to order NBN services, 571,527 being brown fields and 180,796 greenfields premises are able to order fixed-line services, 220,917 fixed wireless, and 38,743 interim satellite service.

2016[edit]

With Malcolm Turnbull becoming Prime Minister of Australia, Mitch Fifield became the Minister for the communications portfolio, and thus the NBN.

At 30 June 2016, the company had passed 2,893,474 premises across all technologies.[112] Company annual revenue was $421 million compared to $164 million in 2015 financial year, with approximately 1,100,000 active user at June 30.[111]

2017[edit]

National rollout[edit]

NBN Co planned to complete the FTTP rollout by June 2021, along with the completion of the fixed wireless and satellite rollout by 2015.[needs update]

Malcolm Turnbull initially stated that the MTM would be completed by 2019; NBN Co initially planned to complete the MTM rollout by 2020.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ For example, most of Australia's copper network is affected by water due to extensive use of faulty gel for insulation in the past, see Ross, Nick (19 September 2013). "NBN alternative: Is Australia's copper network fit for purpose?". Australian Broadcasting Commission. Retrieved 12 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Statements by Abbott and Turnbull on the need for broadband:
  3. ^ Reports and audit into the NBN commissioned by the Abbott government in 2013
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External links[edit]