Neglect Is The Name Of The Game
During last night’s Lateline interview with Tony Jones, Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) has confirmed that the Liberal Party’s policy on broadband is one of neglect & confusion.
Turnbull got the ball rolling early, claiming that Korean FTTB services somehow save money as opposed to FTTH. FTTB & FTTH are almost identical, the only difference between the two is the customer end of the 1Gbps Ethernet terminates further from the ONT. In smaller buildings, this is acceptable, but once the Ethernet cable (Cat 5/5e/6) reaches 100m, the service will degrade or be unusable. FTTB’s major drawbacks are that it, like FTTN, is limited by the quality of the copper, if deployed to save money, the bandwidth may be shared among many apartments (therefore having the same problems as HFC), & when speeds push beyond 1Gbps, you may not be able to receive a full speed service.
As we can see here, Turnbull is attempting to compare 100m run of 4 pair UTP with a single pair used for VDSL2. The speed fall off is staggering with VDSL2, as I’ve stated in previous posts, so this an obvious attempt to confuse voters in an election year by comparing a service capable of 1Gbps (FTTB) with a service barely capable of 80Mbps (FTTN).
If Turnbull is claim means he will be putting VDSL2 DSLAMs into buildings, the cost of deployment will be staggering. If he is saying they will be delivering FTTB, then the question is: why not take it to the dwelling for a marginal cost increase?
By attempting to use Korea as an example, Turnbull is creating the misconception that they are deploying FTTN. He could not be more misleading if he tried, as Korea’s single dwelling strategy is to deploy FTTH where possible, FTTB to apartment complexes, & to remove the FTTN/DSL/HFC networks that are currently deployed. The same efforts are being made in Germany, France, Spain, & the UK.
Turnbull then goes on to say that if you’re in an HFC (Hybrid Fibre Coax) area, you’re going to have to wait for an upgrade, if you get one at all. There’s so much I could say here, but I think Renai LeMay (@renailemay) summed it up best on his Delimiter article. Not only does this attitude show a complete lack of knowledge of Australia’s communications, but an arrogance that has become sickening. As I tweeted today: dense & egotistical, a neutron personality if you will.
Turnbull’s claim that “You wouldn’t be overbuilding the HFC areas in the near term because they’re getting very good service already”, is the height of bullshit. HFC areas are NOT receiving “very good service”, in fact, the opposite is true. Spend a few hours with Optus & Telstra customers currently on HFC & you will see how terrible the service is. Not only is both Optus & Telstra shying away from activating new HFC services, it is impossible to receive an HFC service if you live in an apartment block that refuses to allow the whole block to have HFC installed. This is covered in greater detail in the earlier mentioned Delimiter article.
Turnbull then goes on to claim that “Around the world, hybrid fibre coaxial – pay TV cables I guess you call it in a vernacular sense – that is actually a – really a dominant form of delivering broadband, particularly in North America and Europe”, which is one of the most fallacious claims to date. HFC is NOT the most dominant technology, DSL is, this is illustrated by the UN Broadband Commission’s Global Broadband Report (page 29). Cable connections (Not even HFC) only make up 19.4% of all connections worldwide, while DSL penetration is at 60.8%. Aside from this, just because a technology is commonplace does not mean it is the most apt or cheapest solution to Australia’s ailing. This is highlighted in an ITU whitepaper titled: Fiber Access Network: A Cable Operator’s Perspective.
It’s an older document but does detail the cost differential of HFC vs FTTH, with the conclusion being that in the short term HFC is cheaper, but in the long term FTTH is far cheaper.
As all interviews with Turnbull go, the question of cost has come up AGAIN. As per usual there was little substance & much bluster, tinged with ad hominem. Claiming the current government is pulling costs out of thin air & refusing to offer any details on the Liberal Party’s alternative strategy, which Turnbull even admits has not been formulated, shows that Turnbull is not only ignorant of the work that has been done to appease his cost-benefit analysis dog whistle, but so delusional to think he can whip up a plan on the run.
There has been no proof that an FTTN solution would be cheaper than FTTH to make it worthwhile, if anything there’s proof otherwise. With Rob Oakshott (@OakeyMP) doing simple calculations showing FTTN would only save $5b, & Richard Chirgwin (@R_Chirgwin) showing that Telstra & Optus combined spent more than the NBN‘s cost over the last 10 years on CapEx, Turnbull’s claim the coalition could do it cheaper & faster is looking hollow at best.
One thing to note is that FTTN has been around in Australia for at least a decade (if you only include ADSL), since Telstra started deploying on street CMUX/DSLAMs. It has, in reality, been a lot longer as RIMs & RCMs utilised fibre to offer services in rural & densely populated areas. Taking a step back is not upgrading our current telecommunications network, it’s hobbling a nation whose future relies on having strong communications infrastructure to deal with a low carbon, high tech economy.
With many months until the election, we can all expect for more of this misinformation to come from Turnbull, Abbott, & the rest of the Liberal Party. They have no interest in working with facts, just spinning the line that we don’t need FTTH. The arrogance & utter contempt Turnbull shows to techies is breathtaking, yet he wonders why there’s an all out assault against him from us.
If you’re not sure who to believe, my advice is to read tech sites, not Turnbull press releases. Paul Budde, Renai LeMay, even Josh Taylor from ZDNet, are all switched on & understand that the future of Australian ICT rests on having stable, future-proof infrastructure, not cobbling together tech relics from the past.
[UPDATE]: In light of the outrage from the tech community, Malcolm Turnbull has put a post up on his site. From the post:
I did not say we would never overbuild the Telstra HFC areas and our plans assume that in due course the NBN would be extended into them.
What a load of rubbish. From the Lateline interview:
You wouldn’t be overbuilding the HFC areas in the near term because they’re getting very good service already.
And then as to what happens with the HFC areas down the track, that would depend very much on negotiations with Telstra.
Turnbull is showing exactly how much of a dishonest person he is. If the Liberal Party do win an election, Malcolm Turnbull will be the ruin of Australia’s telecommunications.