nbn™ adds premises to FTTC, HFC, slims down FTTN build

Build will end in 2020, stay in the financial envelope.
We promise, really, truly

There's nothing wrong with fibre-to-the-node (FTTN), nothing at all – but nbn™, the company building Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN), has decided to move more than a million premises onto other technologies.

News of the change came in a new corporate plan released yesterday, which detailed how lucky householders who don't get stuck with FTTN will instead get hybrid fibre-coax (HFC) or fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC). When the network is completed in 2020, nbn™ says, just under 40 per cent of premises will be offered FTTN connections. FTTC (more than a million premises, around 8.6 per cent of the total) and HFC (an expected 3.1 million, 26.7 per cent) will carry more of the load.

Since the start of this year, FTTN has increasingly taken the role of the millstone around nbn™'s corporate neck, with a combination of troubled activation processes and poor performance.

Within the industry, it's become a festival of finger-pointing, and consumers are so unhappy that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has sunk the slipper into the collective behinds of the whole industry.

Adjusting the rollout to give more users higher-speed tails makes sense from that point of view, if the retailers can be relied on to put more into backhaul, but nbn™ said yesterday this is happening. Its adjustments to Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC) pricing means retailers are provisioning more capacity for their users.

Pushing FTTC further out into the network makes it more expensive, but fortunately, by a relatively trivial amount: a predicted per-premises outlay of AU$2,900 instead of the $2,800 in last year's corporate plan.

The FTTN cost-pre-premises remains the same as last year at $2,300; given that the rollout is already at considerable scale, there doesn't seem much chance that will fall. Likewise, HFC is still pegged at $2,300 per household, and fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) is $4,400 per connection.

It's difficult to present an apples-for-apples comparison of the rollout compared to older corporate plans, for two reasons: this year is the first time the company's broken out FTTC premises in their own right; and second, because it says better geo-analysis has shown it has fewer premises it needs to connect.

The change is a total of 200,000 premises (with the network now pegged to serve 11.6 million when all's done and dusted) – 300,000 duplicates have been culled from the geographic database, but 100,000 new homes are expected to be built between now and the end of the build.

The corporate plan promises that the build will be completed within the AU$49 billion funding envelope the government has imposed.

Taking on Telstra

Absent from the corporate plan was any discussion about Telstra's hopes to renegotiate its financial arrangement with nbn™.

Announcing the carrier's financials mid-August, Telstra's CEO Andy Penn said he wanted to get nbn™ to let it securitise upwards of $5 billion worth of forward payments for customer migrations.

nbn™ said “no dice” on Wednesday, but Vulture South can't imagine Telstra will let that be the end of the matter. The incumbent is a formidable and persistent negotiator – it's worth remembering that it delayed the previous government's NBN plan with lawyerly negotiations so effectively that by the time the 2013 election rolled around, an all-FTTP rollout could be presented as a shambles.

Money was at stake then, and money is at stake now: as the NBN changes Telstra's fixed broadband to a retail play, the carrier's financials will suffer.

It's at least reasonable to expect Telstra to continue writing to communications minister Mitch Fifield and nbn™ putting its case – and it's almost certain the carrier is mobilising its considerable legal resources on the matter. ®

Broader topics

Other stories you might like

  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022