Coalition launches $6.25 billion alternative broadband plan

Fibre backhaul, wireless and ADSL2+ optimisation form key tenets of alternative policy to NBN

A Coalition Government will spend up to $6.25 billion of public and private funding on an alternate broadband policy to the Gillard Government’s $43 billion National Broadband Network (NBN).

The funding will directed at providing 97 per cent of Australians with a minimum peak speed of 12 megabits per second (Mbps). The remaining three per cent will have access to satellite access at an as-yet-undisclosed speed.

The broadband plan composes four separate aspects:

  • $2.75 billion of public funding and an additional $750 million private funding on building an open access, optical fibre backhaul network
  • $750 million on “fixed broadband optimisation” with a focus on upgrading telephone exchanges without existing ADSL2+ capabilities
  • $1 billion public grant funding and additional, undisclosed private funding for building a wireless network for rural and regional areas
  • $1 billion on building a metropolitan wireless network focussed on outer metropolitan areas

Opposition communications minister, Tony Smith, said the plan was responsible and affordable.

He also said the open access fibre backhaul would “break the backhaul bottleneck which has been holding back competition and investment in broadband, particularly in rural and regional Australia”.

Confirming some aspects of the policy which has been speculated for weeks, Smith and opposition finance minister, Andrew Robb, launced the plan ahead of an ICT policy debate hosted by the Australian Computer Society (ACS) between Smitth, Labor Senator Stephen Conroy and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam at the National Press Club today.

The policy was initially expected by those close to the party to include revived aspects of the terminated OPEL project as well as a fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) network.

Both of those aspects have seen revival in some form under the Coalition’s plan. The initial, $1.9 billion OPEL networked announced by Senator Helen Coonan under the Howard Government was targeted at building a WiMAX-based network for rural and regional areas.

The Coalition signalled intentions to capitalise on the existing fibre assets of Optus, Telstra and other companies in building an optical fibre backhaul network, which will see service providers charged with delivering last mile access to homes; the basis of an FTTN network.

Both Smith and Liberal leader, Tony Abbott, have confirmed that a Coalition Government would scrap the NBN, which they have labelled “reckless” and a “white elephant”.

Smith said that, although the party was only promising 12Mbps peak speeds, up to 2.5 million homes already had access to 100Mbps bandwidth through hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) cable networks enabled with DOCSIS 3.0 technology from either Optus or Telstra.

A key tenet of the Coalition’s plan, fixed broadband optimisation, is light on details, but would presumably see the Government provide funding for the installation of additional ADSL2+ DSLAM equipment in those telephone exchanges that don’t currently have access to the service.

According to Telstra, ADSL2+ is currently available at 1883 of the telco’s 2873 DSL-enabled telephone exchanges. The telco only plans to upgrade two additional exchanges to the faster technology, with no updates on those exchanges since May.

Internode has been one of the only continually active service providers in expanding ADSL2+ reach, rolling out nine new DSLAMs in Tasmanian exchanges in the past year.

According to Smith, the optimisation would focus on those who are unable to get “decent” speeds, though did not qualify on what that would entail.

Further detail on other aspects of the Coalition’s broadband plan are yet to see light as well, though Smith told media that the party would commit additional funds to satellite technology to ensure it is “better” than the satellite component of the Labor party’s NBN.

NBN Co has said it will spend $1 billion on launching two new Ka-band satellites to serve those in the three per cent of the Australian population not served by fibre or wireless technologies, with peak speeds of 12Mbps.

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Tags Federal Election 2010Liberal PartyNational Broadband Network (NBN)CoalitionNational Broadband Commission (NBC)broadbandtony smith

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I'd like to know where the "node" is, because the current copper radiates from Telstra exchanges only. So, are we creating more nodes, redirecting existing copper and laying more copper to make up for the lack of infrastructure that leads to pair gain and other limitations now? If so, wouldn't we just lay fibre?

Also seems that apparently because 2.5M homes supposedly have fibre services now, the other 6M (rising to 7.5M in 2021) are OK to run at differeing and substandard speeds? I'll bet those 2.5M homes are in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.

Speed of light for a 30,000 km round trip to and from a satellite. Sounds like if they plan to make that "better" than the NBN proposal that the coalition have a plan to adjust the laws of physics.

I think the only white elephant in this equation has large ears and stutters alot when he's lying to us.

D Newman


The plan is awful, I would to know where they have been getting advice from to come up with such a slow to produce patchwork quilt.
Its still going to require the life ex copper to be used for a very extend period of time, and to put trust in the private sector to get off their (bleep) to actualy do the micro upgrading, and history screams at us that 2016 is pure rubbish also.

Telstra have been avoiding upgrading their exchanges for decades despite high demand they would rather cap and lie than improve.
Why would they do anything different now? They have a very poor maintence/upgrade history.

And the Telstra seperation is off as well, and this plan will undoubtedly give the same problematic reins back into their hands.

Just like their the Liberals accounting skills of late, it looks like infrastructure planning is not one of their core abilities, I was hoping for more leadership on this, this stinks of "we are not sure, so ehhh lets be vague"



I'm damned if I can understand why any intelligent person would vote for labor given the complete meltdown that has been their party and their policy over recent years.

But this policy looks on the surface to be ridiculous. Perhaps their polling has demonstrated that this issue is simply not as big an issue as Labor makes it out to be?



"Optimisation of copper network" = Blank cheque to Telstra to fix what they have destroyed through years of neglect. Basically, it's a taxpayer-funded band-aid. Pathetic. Just pathetic.

I also want to know how the Coalition can guarantee a minimum of 12 Mbps to 97% of Australians if most of them are still going to be on copper. And what about people currently stuck on RIMs or pair gains? Sounds to me like they're putting all their eggs into the "wireless" basket. And we all know what happens to wireless speeds during a spot of congestion...

So, under the Coalition I can look forward to possibly finally being able to finally get ADSL2+ (I currently live a mere 20 minutes from my CBD and am stuck with ADSL1, go figure), or if I'm especially lucky possibly knowing the joys of that great 1980s technology known as HFC. If anything, this has simply reaffirmed the Coalition's reputation of being complete and utter Luddites. They may as well bring back that colossal imbecile Richard Alston.



What a total waste of $6billion! This plan it outdated on paper, it was outdated back in 2006 when they thought the plan up and it will be a decade behind if it was ever to get rolled out. The current NBN is mostly future proof, as none of the fibre-optic cable being laid will ever need to be replaced/upgraded. Only the points of interconnect will need to be upgraded to faster infrastructure when we out grow 100Mbps. We have already outgrown 12Mbps and it is an absolute insult to be told by a lackluster Liberal Party that it is state of the art. Honestly if it was state of the art then the more advanced nations in the world would be using it yeah! But there is no one using the Liberal Party's planned network in the advanced nations, they are all using Fibre-Optic to the Homes. Part of the Liberal Party's plan is to put in more fibre-optic backbone, something that the Labor Party has been doing for the last 6 months and is continuing to do for the next 12 to 18 months.



Good to see the Liberals go with a platform that will be delivered.

What a waste of taxpayer's money Labor's $40 -$100bn NBN is - for something that will probably never be completed.

Before Labor's NBN is even half completed I am sure Wireless will be well over 100Mbps !!

D Newman


Tue 10/08/2010 - 14:53
Good to see the Liberals go with a platform that will be delivered.

What a waste of taxpayer's money Labor's $40 -$100bn NBN is - for something that will probably never be completed.

Before Labor's NBN is even half completed I am sure Wireless will be well over 100Mbps !!

@Peter, yes and we all fly to work in our flying car Holdens , there is world peace and you start thinking for yourself instead of repeating stuff discredited as political baulderdash weeks ago.
...Wireless at over 100Mbps in 4 years, yeah in a test lab, with no witnesses, apart from Telstra marketing.

Tuarn McInerney


I bet Tony has access to this 100 Mbps connection because I sure as hell don't, i'm also pretty sure he doesn't know what a HD movie is and how long it takes to download because if he thinks more copper wire is going to solve our telephone and internet woes then he's woefully mistaken. What happens when peoples expectation is that ALL their entertainment comes from their telephone line - phone, net, movies and even TV in 3D. No amount of copper cable will handle that kind of data, leaving another government to spend billions more on upgrading to fiber. GREAT ONE TONY.

Where the hell is the VISION in this Election... I didn't make it through the GFC to be given this kind of choice, i want to elect someone who has scope and conviction and some one that will leave Australia better off.

Stuff it i'm voting PIRATE party and wearing a patch come election day!



Tue 10/08/2010 - 14:53

Good to see the Liberals go with a platform that will be delivered.

What a waste of taxpayer's money Labor's $40 -$100bn NBN is - for something that will probably never be completed.

Before Labor's NBN is even half completed I am sure Wireless will be well over 100Mbps !!

Did you just tell Australia that you have no Clue. After reading that i think i want to shot my self at how stupid you are.

Gun Loaded BANG



How fast is actually a minimum peak speed of 12Mb/sec?



ADSL2+ at over 12Mbps? Oh good - we're going to all move our houses to within 2km of a telephone exchange. $6.3Bn will be spent on hiring the house relocation trucks I assume?

Memo Tony Abbott - Opposition for Opposition's sake is pathetic. Acknowledge a good idea when you see it, and attack the rubbish.

You just confirmed where my vote will be going - and it won't be to you.

Green 1st (pro NBN, anti filter)
Labor 2nd (pro NBN, Libs and Green to block the filter)
Libs last

And to think I used to vote for your mob!




D. Newman, isn't it convenient that the mouth/no brain (as usual) took off when things got interesting and all the sound-a-likes have materialised...LOL!

Perhaps he's out bashing up fence sitting voters and making them vote Liberal...!

Bet if the Coalition wins he will return with mouth in gear, brain disengaged and a massive (for him anyway) 2" horn!

mike taxpayer


I read the comments knocking this - the usual elitest snipe from a group that was going to deliver nothing with the NBN and was looking to being fat off taxpayers money whilst the NBN wasted money on a dead end design in 19th century fixed point network and then blatant lies about satelite.
gpon ftth is dead, the trials failed, quigley will be viewed as someone like ziggy who may have known something about what he did previously but has no clue about the public, usage, scale, national needs or capabilities. he is dead meat either way, and secretly must be hoping the liberals put him out of the misery of ever having to deliver the compromised and evidently silly NBN technical, business and social design
The liberal party proposal is what people want, incremental, leveraged, competive, multispectrum, mobile, multi access, leveraging whats there, providing regulation and many optons in paths forward, rather than the collins class submarine national network NBN that quigley and his accenture team dreamed up. The NBN in 2 years has already wasted billions done nothing except install an oracle CD and showed it failed all the trials, wont scale, wont run mixed load, cant be commercially viable and would not actually happen. They delayed the trials and the overhead cabling and other ugliness deliberately knowing it was a bad design.
So if anyone in the NBN had any courage, they would say - we made a mess of it, the liberals are correct and we offer our services and support (esp in what not to do) to what is really needed.



Minimum peak (download presumably) speed of 12Mb / sec?

Telstra's NextG network will already handle a "minimum peak" of 21Mbps so I guess the coalition's plan is already complete.

More seriously, here is the old (around 4 year old data) iiNet / Internode heatmap showing that even in Metropolitian Sydney, only half of people could connect at over 12Mbps on ADSL2:
(Or Google: Fibre to the Node: At what price)

The copper wire network has continued to degrade since and will require more maintenance as time goes on. Fibre is a cheaper, more reliable medium in the long term. The only question is when should copper be replaced by Fibre.

The liberals just moved to the bottom of my voting card. I'll vote The Greens first, but given Labour's efforts with the Insulation farce and waste in everything else it's amazing that I have to now conclude the Liberals are even worse!!!

D Newman


Funny how most of the "industry" has panned the living heck out of this already and its not 24 hours old, which goes to show the Liberals also didnt seek wide council before luanching this sad excuse of a policy, so the "Industry" exculding Telstra at present because they are currently in a win/win situation, is all incorrect is it Mike Taxpayer.
Also Mike no one can safely say who the public wants till after an election, polls and betting keep flowing +/- around that 50% mark to each so I can safetly say, NO ONE has won a clear mandate in anything yet, unless your planning a coup.

Last point the mixed load issue, that came to light while in test phase, you know where they do TESTING, was an early issue relating to information share between them and the ISP,s it was a code issue.

Why cant people get there heads around test phase and product live, its not difficult, the clue is in the damn name for a start.



Who do I need to speak to in order to lay fibre along my street to the nearest Telstra exchange? I live in an affluent street on Sydney's Northern Beaches but I'm around 4km from the Telstra Exchange and my neighbours and I get terrible ADSL2+ speeds. Anyone interested in providing us with a FTTH service?



The NBN needs to be rolled out by a government backed monopoly that can stop predatory rollouts during the initial phases from killing it. Telstra / Foxtel cabling vans following Optus's installers last decade should convince everyone of that.

Also, if you think $43Billion is an insane amount of money, you should consider how much more it would cost if the "opt-out" criteria doesn't get up and people like Rob have to request the rollout on a street by street basis.

FTTH will never happen without a government willing to look more than one term ahead. Companies are not interested in a 10 year view anyone more than most governments care past the next election.



@13 mike taxpayer, seems you are one of the rare ones who thinks this hodge-podge, backward plan has merit.

The Liberal party plan is what people want you say? No... the Liberal party plan is what Liberal party minions (keeping in mind the Liberals in Tasmania and the Nationals support the NBN) who are unable to think logically for themselves want.



At the base level, I think I prefer the coalition's solutions. Here's why:

Given that there are about 7-7.5million households, Labour's plan is costing around $6,000 per house to provide 100mbit/s to most of the population. Liberal's plan is approx $880 per household, to provide 100mbit/s to dense areas and 12mbit/s to the rest. Both suggest some kind of satelite to the romote areas.

If you went to every household in Australia and asked them if they wanted to pay $6,000 for a $100mb/s connection or $880 for a 12mb/s connection, I bet many would choose the second. While many readers here would be willing to pay for the better connection (I probably would too), keep in mind that we're probably of the more internet-savvy than some of our friends or family. I know that my dad would choose the second option - I doubt he'd even notice the difference between the two. Why make all Australians pay for something that many won't even notice?

I agree with comments about adsl 2+ range, and hopefully(?) this will be addressed. I think I'd also prefer to see a separation of the wholesale side and retail side of Telstra.

Anyway, It's good to see though that whichever party wins, work will be undertaken to fill in the holes in our national internet coverage.



Yes but paying taxes and then paying additional out of your pocket are two different things.

Ask most Aussies do you want to pay $6000 or $880 per house out of your own pocket and you will probably be told to **** off twice.

Ask if the government uses the taxes you have already paid to connect ypou to state of the art technology for $6K or to superseded BS for $880 and most (apart form Liberal voters and TLS ahareholders ) will want the best...



Phillip, I'm sorry you just don't get it.
"I agree with comments about adsl 2+ range, and hopefully(?) this will be addressed". Copper is at the end of it's useful life. Your "hopefully" is not going to happen.
Fibre is a once in a centuary infrastructure change and it will cost money. But look at the cost.
7-7.5mill households today. 10mill by 2020. 2mill businesses. Then you have the schools, hospitals/doctors, government offices. It is these other areas where there will be enormous benefit. We tend to be myopic and think it about us. So your cost is more like $3,500 per premise. Acually the McKinsey and KPMG study estimates $3000 for 70% of connections.
BUT who cares because what we will be paying is not different to what we pay now for access. iiNet is offering substantially the same prices for access to a greenfields fibre network. Your dad won't be penalised.



At the moment I am operating on ADSL1 with a 1500 speed and i am getting 100mbps speed. I am paying $49.95 for this privilege.
I can not access ADSL2, however this speed is fast enough for me and if truth be known for any normal user. Agreed some Australians do not have access to even this, however amplifying our existing architecture , including a percentage of wireless, satellite , and upgrade of ports at all exhanges in order to provide ADSL2 would provide ample internet for all australians at a fraction of the cost of the proposed NBN.

It might be noted that our friend Tony Windsor has not a computer , and was advised by a questionable pair of so called experts, neither of whom has ever been an expert in this fiels. One of his so called experts is a person who has worked in a job in telstra which had nothing to do with the Net.

The government should be called to account to explain how they arrived at theit magical figure, and asked if they attempted to investigate alternatives. Ig the NBN is allowed to go through you can be sure that, as with other government plans, there will be a massive blowout


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