Coalition's NBN will look like a "dog's breakfast": Ludlam

A long-time supporter of the NBN, Ludlam is highly critical of the Coalition’s plan to roll out the network based on fibre-to-the-node

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam believes the National Broadband Network (NBN) will end up looking like a “dog’s breakfast” if the Coalition wins the federal election in September.

A long-time supporter of the NBN, Ludlam is highly critical of the Coalition’s plan to roll out the network based on fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) instead of fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), which is Labor’s current plan.

Ludlam told Computerworld Australia shadow minister for communications, Malcolm Turnbull, had been given a “bad brief” from opposition leader, Tony Abbott, with Abbott originally appointing Turnbull to “demolish” the NBN in late 2010.

Turnbull recently told Computerworld Australia the Coalition would honour existing contracts for FTTP and possibly enter new contracts for FTTN deployment.

This will leave some Australia split – those who have access to a FTTP network and “those who are going to be left behind by Malcolm Turnbull trying to pander to Tony Abbot’s desire to leave the country in the dark ages”, Ludlam said.

Ludlam claimed the Coalition’s NBN will use infrastructure and equipment which will be redundant within a couple of years and result in “patchwork” network.

“I think it’ll be a very costly dog’s breakfast that they’re going to have to either break contracts or leave the country with a patchwork of people who are connected to the end-to-end network and those who are stuck on the legacy copper,” he said.

“They also will need to confront the fact that they’ll have lost a large part of NBN’s revenues. If we end up with a crappy low-speed service in metropolitan areas, they will actually lose the ability to pay for the high-speed satellite and wireless service in regional areas.”

Ludlam has urged the opposition to leave the NBN alone if it wins the federal election and allow the project to run its course.

“I think we need the opposition to come clean on the fact that their system won’t have anything like the capabilities of what Mr Quigley and his team are currently building,” he said.

Turnbull’s main selling point for a Coalition NBN is that it would be cheaper and faster to roll out than FTTP.

He told Computerworld Australia that in comparable markets where FTTN has been used, it costs between one-third and one-fifth of the cost of FTTP.

“The number that the British gave me was one quarter, so that’s a very, very big difference – that’s saving a lot of money,” he said.

However, independent MP Rob Oakeshott has lambasted Turnbull for not including copper maintenance costs in Coalition cost estimates for building the NBN.

He believes that based on his own “rough figures”, a Coalition version of the NBN would only be $5 billion cheaper than Labor’s $37.4 billion NBN.

Ludlam is also critical of the opposition’s lack of foresight and the potential for FTTN to have an additional impact on the environment.

“What the government’s expert panel found years ago was that before too long you have to cut over the copper anyway. The nodes will end up in landfill – the cabinets will end up in landfill – and you end up having to rip the copper up anyhow,” he said.

While Turnbull has been left to fight the flag for FTTN for the Coalition, Ludlam said the decision ultimately goes back to Abbott.

“They’re stuck with a leader whose views don’t accord with the fact that the digital economy is an enormous enabler of social growth and economic development,” he said.

“I think Mr Abbot understands mining pretty well. I don’t think he understands much about anything else at all, so he doesn’t really have the vision. He doesn’t see the need for a network like this and that’s what they’ve stuck Mr Turnbull with.”

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Tags Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP)Malcolm TurnbullTony AbbottRob OakeshottNational Broadband Network (NBN)fibre-to-the-node (FTTN)

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it couldnt be as bad as this wesite with it constant popups, overpopulated ads and poor design!

Amanda Hugginkiss


If the Greens want to save the NBN, they must instruct their coalition partners (Labor) to remove Gillard and reinstate Kevin Rudd. He is the only one who has some chance of beating Abbott at the next election.



Rupert Murdoch's Australian publications maintain significant public and political influence.
The NBN is a direct threat to his business model.
It stands to reason his publications will seek to undermine both the NBN and the government.
This of course suits Tony Abbott and the Coalition.
Ultimately, if the Australian public refuses the question the narrative of the mainstream media, it will get the broadband infrastructure that it deserves.

John C Brisbane


Mr Turnbull
Give us the full NBN or you will lose the next election , end of story.




I vote Ludlam for PM...pity it's not currently an option.

IT Observer


To all comments above, don't politize the need for a better broadband experience amd speed.
The fact is that Australia is ranked last in broadband speed 1.7 Mbps, compared with Japan 63.6 Mbps, the NBN is not the best solution to bring a better speed and technology that will be outdated; moreover it will be costly in the long run and totally unsustainable for all business and individuals.
This task is more suitable for private inversionists and the collaboration of all Telephone and Internet companies, that can envisage a better future for Australia from now and beyond.

Scott Effwit


The Greens are a dog's breakfast of communist policies and other stinking BS. Down with Scott Mudlam-Bedlam.

IT Observer


Correction: the first paragraph should say:
To all comments above, don't politize the need for a better broadband experience and speed.
In addition, this Task is big, the government cannot take part on it, as this need careful planning, the outlay of money to build this infrastructure must be on realistic terms.
Previously all the Internet and Telephone companies except Telstra, wamted to build a fast Internet Network.
Telstra did not wanted to participate because until now it goes against it's monopoly.
The costings were to be shared by all involved.



NBN will make things slower and jam up the overseas pipes with all those stolen movies, The DVD sales and rental business will die..



Clearly Mr, Ludlum is out of his depth and in my opinion the NBN (in current form) should have never been built. Wireless backed up by HFC is more than enough. The NBN is nothing more than a big dig union gift; get real Ludlum!



NBN should consist of good backbone infrastructure to every exchange in Australia and allow the private sector to fight over the last mile, by effectively giving all ISPs an equal footing in each exchange no matter how remote at the same cost the competition will drive the private sector to deliver better last mile solutions faster than the NBN can roll out.



Well its already rolling out in my area. So to be blunt, i couldnt care less. Ill have it either way



LOL at the comments here.

So many people with ill-informed minds.

That is all....

Peter Kojak


Scott Effwit for PM.
The Greens are running around like headless chooks because they know they will be gone,finished,KAPUT,after the Fed Election! They are like a bad stain in a babies Nappy.



Oh my God, lets see, in a complete wifi society, were every man and his dog use laptops, tablets and mobile devices to connect to the internet and social media ludlum would rather upgrade hard line cable instead of providing improved mobile upgrades which 90% of people use on a daily basis. The devices used today are portable and don't need a fixed connection, you know ludlum like your mobile phone idiot. The fact is the coalitions plan to do fibre cable and wifi upgrades is the smartest thing anyone could do. The coalitions plan is the only smart way forward. The devices we use need these upgrades, we are a society that is always on the move, in a large country were this technology is extremely important, fixed cable is great for those who wish it, but the Greens and Labor lack the understanding of the Mobile and Internet relationship with the human aspect. Mums ,Dads, Kids nearly every single device used is not connected to a fixed point, we use them on the streets, in our cars, on buses,in taxis,in the park at sporting events, just sitting on the lounge at home, surely HFC and providing a solid back bone service which the coalition wants to supply is the right direction forward. The greens are a dangerous party, they are communist and lack vision, leadership, and common sense and their policies do more harm to Australia than good. There policies on this are akin to their no burning off policies. I hold the Greens responsible for the large devastating fires this nations people have suffered through , by not burning off reducing the fuel in the bush and grass lands this nation has witnessed one of the largest extreme fires in history. fact is if the fuel had been reduced more animals would have survived, the fires would have been massively smaller and less loss of life and property. Everything the greens touch turns to shit and is against the Australian people. Their policies are poorly thought out, they are hacks, these are the ones Johns west rejects to quote a phrase.



My God the absolute stupidity in these comments is amazing. I will list the name that have added nothing but fallacies to the conversation.

Matt - WiFi and Wireless are actually different technologies. The biggest difference is that WiFi is incredibly short ranges, usually within ones home. WiFi requires a solid fixed line connection from there. Anyone who wishes to download large files like maybe Microsoft updates requires a considerable quota, which fixed line connections provide.

Graeme - Unless you have stuck your fingers in your eyes to blind yourself for the last two decades the only thing that competition has bought us is competitors complaining o the ACC that accessing Telstra infrastructure is too expensive. They do not wish to make their own national infrastructure because they learnt there lesson with the cables wars. Both Telstra and Optus ended up smarting over that, and that was in the most profitable areas of our country.

James - HFC backing up Wireless, WTF are you even on about? Are you really this technically illiterate? HFC cover 30% of the country, of which less than half can actually access because any more would cripple the network. Mobile Wireless is a supporting transmission medium. Currently fixed lines account for 93% of the nations information transfers. Take into account small mobile wireless quotas and wireless will never be a primary network.

IT - Good idea, would be heaven if companies tended to cooperate and not compete. This will never happen and they have had plenty of opportunity to do so. Even if they did you may as well stick your finger up to 70% of the country who would not be covered.

Sorry for the long post, but the ignorance in these comments is astounding. If democracy means following the stupid into a volcano like these comments indicates than I think ill stay on the ground while everyone else jumps.



Nobody has yet explained to me in what way these billions of dollars will suddenly come in when the NBN is complete. What I see is businesses all over australia sacking their IT teams when the start backing up to overseas cloud operators, I see security issues. I see australian computers becomming the worlds most desireable botnets and being targetted as such..

And I don't see how the 40+ billion will be worth it when we are all using high speed wireless networks in 10 years from now.

I can see some benefits to the NBN FTTP but not enough to justify the costs. especially if the opposition really can get 25 to 85 megabits-per-second. which will achive most of the same goals.

I guess I'm reserving judegement for now, but 40 billion is loads of money for something that may be obsolete in 10 to 15 years.



1. Fibre will not be obsolete in 10-15 yrs. IT has been around for longer than that, and there is no foreseeable replacement in the future.
2. Mobile wireless is congested now. New spectrum is required just to keep up with the growth. Moving households and businesses on to this would be an absolute disaster, Anyone who suggests this is ill-informed.
3.FTTN would have been a great improvement a few years ago. Unfortunatly, by the time it is tested, evaluated, planned and implemented, we are likely to be near the next election. As such, as a full replacement it is not suitable. Overseas it is concidered a good steping stone to FTTP, in areas of high density. Most AU suburbs are not that (except the newer lend lease suburbs) and so there would not be the cost savings expected with this approach.
4. Of course the Greens and independants are supporting the Labour model NBN. It is the only good policy they have, and they want to be re-elected.
5. Telstra and Optus each spend more than the total NBN cost on maintainence of their existing networks in the same time period.



Basically all the comments that say FttN is the way to go have been misinformed.
Some examples:
The coalitions 25-85mbit/s speed is very close to FttP speed,
the 85 is close to the max 100 now for NBN plans but FttP could eventually go up to 1Gbit which will be a hell of a lot faster than FttN.
Plus, upload speeds also have to be discussed. They are very important for many people, especially businesses.

And people talking about only needing wireless, You have to have a good backbone infrastructure to support all this.
And people at home that need large quotas will not be able to live with wireless, they will need faster speeds and bandwidth.
Especially families or people with roommates, they can not all live off wireless. It would just NOT work.

FttP is the only smart, future-proof, long-term effective and logical way to go to push Australia up towards the top of the list of broadband in the world!
This is where we would want to be, we do not want to be on par with other countries, we want to be better than them.
We should be a world role model in broadband technology and speed.
Not just be bumped up a few places due to FttN.

FttP will always be the best way to go forward for the future!



Comment #1 and #16. ROFL

Ken F


The NBN started work in Mandurah WA. Pop 75,000 early in November 2011. To date not a single customer has been connect very little cable laid and on their own admission have no idea when we can expect service to begin. Am i mean spirited to say this a complete and utter shambles.



@ Comment 1. Firefox and Adblock plus = no adds and no popus. I couldn't use the web anyother way.
I like the idea of hosting my own cloud services for my own personal use from home, FTTP sounds good to me and I'd like it to become a standard service so it's cheap. At the moment it's a premium option which I can't afford, and I can see how small business can benefit from fast affordable internet.



Typical Greens. Let's make somebody else pay for our pipe dreams. By the time the NBN is delivered it will be old technology but very very expensive. As if a vast nation like Australia should be laying down wires everywhere. High speed Wireless is the future.
This is more about getting attention to himself and his party then internet speeds.



Is that dog's breakfast as in Labor-Green alliance dog's breakfast?



It wont be outdated, what other technology do you suggest we use other than FttP that would last longer. Considering FttP can technically go up to 1Gbit/s.
And if you're trying to compare it to the Coalition's FttN plan, that's endlessly worse for future-proofing our network.



Speeds up to 100Mbit/s to Australian homes via twisted pair already pose a security risk, and Conroy was boasting about the 1Gbit/s via optic just 5 days before the 2010 election.

Just think. With 1G Conroy can download a movie in just a minute or so -if all goes well. Imagine what a hacker can do over that time period with 1G access to the average Aussie home.

To the NBN mob: ignore "speed limit" signs, and keep on digging as fast as you can. You sure are liking it.



To the people who keep on harping on about "high speed wireless"... Just shut up, you have no idea what your talking about, yes everyone has the right to an opinion, and I have a right to my opinion that your wrong and should shut it before you embarrass yourself any more. You can't GET high speed wireless without a high speed PHYSICAL CONNECTION, what, you think it's like short-wave? just zip it across the world? Go back to primary school, you need a lesson on radio waves, the faster the speed (higher frequency), the further it won't go (has issues with walls).

Many people seem to think the 3G and 4G networks are some kind of magic, you just connect anywhere and away you go, from experience, these seem to be the people who just "check emails" or "watch a bit of youtube". This runs over the mobile phone network, obviously, and because of this, bandwidth is extremely limited (there’s that radio frequency stuff again, jeez, learning is hard!), the more people on it, the slower it goes (more techno-babble radio frequency stuff). Additionally, the costs per gig it is significantly higher and for this amazing technology you'll pay anywhere from $5-$25 per gigabyte currently, sounds reasonable, to read an email or watch a video. I'm not even on a particularly good ADSL2+ plan and my cost comes too... .45c per gig (because there is... you guessed it, MORE BANDWIDTH)... Different strokes for different folks, I pay less, but use more, some people need wireless convenience, others need reliability of service, which mobile broadband oh-so-doesn't have.

With 6M/bit speeds you have video streaming, with the 100M/bit speeds Fibre To The Premises (your house), you can have a live consultation with a doctor on the other side of the country, surgery can be done remotely, you can stream different high definition movies to multiple tvs in a home, download a blueray in 160 seconds. With Fiber To The Node, all this, will be sent to the crappy 20 year old "Node" (Exchange), to then be sent on to you, the user, over crappy 20 year old copper wires, which will need to be thrown out in a few years anyway because they are physically decaying, that's right, even if we did neither FTTN or FTTP, or anything, we'd have to replace our phone cables with something else anyway! A Mobile network patch-job will not work in populated areas, as people are already using this service, it is it's own market and growing separately, to force everyone to use it will only make it slow and crappy. (cont.)



(cont.) Why is cost even an issue anyway? It's not like if the government didn't spend the money here, all of it would go into preventing foetal alcohol syndrome. Guess what? governments spend money! sometimes, they spend a lot of money to improve infrastructure! infrastructure which is in desperate need of upgrading! If the government instead put all this money into improving schools, hospitals, businesses and government facilities, it would have the publics full support, well guess what? The NBN WILL be improving school, hospitals, businesses and government facilities! Providing unbelievable speeds and allowing services you never considered, simply because you have no idea exactly how much faster it is, your brain simply cannot comprehend it. Just because we don't use these speeds to their fullest potential now, it doesn't mean we won't need it in the future. It's a brave new world, we are all welcome to our opinion, and my opinion is that there are so many ignorant backbirths in Australia my brain simply cannot comprehend it.

Oh, and due to privacy reasons, or something like that, I have to state that part of my job is as a Telstra dealer, my stated views are completely my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the company I work for, or Telstra.

And yes, I'm mean, welcome to the internet!



And Ray, OMG, again, so ignorant. you have no idea what kind of damage I can do with a DIAL UP MODEM if I could be bothered. I can do far more damage with the personal information I have full access to on a daily basis, but I don't becasue I'm a normal human being and not a sociopath (most people arn't, paranoido.)

Do you know what one of most popluar piececs of hacking hardware is? It's a modem that's about 20 years old, SO SLOW that network traffic monitors can't detect it.

The real "Danger" to Australian homes, is the lax security of companies you trust to hold your personal information...Vodafail anyone? Facebook? Twitter? PSN? MSN? Am I the only one who remembers these heinous security breaches that has exposed the personal information of millions of accounts?

Even with these examples, most "hacking" these days is done by this strange concept called "Social Engineering" (a.k.a: Talking your way in!)... please... at least do some freaking research before you come up with the bizzare conclusion that faster speeds = faster haxorz.

56k modem man


I totally agree with everything Jonathan said. There will never be , nor can there ever be some sort of wireless utopia with all things and all people connected to some vast unlimited bubble of radio bandwidth. It has been and always will be a smaller part of our communications infrastructure that leverage's larger backbones to provide flexible and convenient data access at the cost of limited bandwidth . Its simply the nature of the underlying technology , radio .

People of Australia you only have one decision to make . At some point quite soon you will have to dig up Australia's ancient and near derelict copper network . The question is what do you want to replace it with and how much do you want to spend doing it . Whatever you choose to do I urge you to ensure one outcome above all else , No matter what , do not go back in 20-30 years and dig it up again and do this all over . The cost no matter what you chose will be immense and you can not get this wrong with petty politics and vested interests and agenda's.



Way back in time Australia managed to wire the continent for phone service. We had a huge area and a tiny population but we did it anyway. We wanted to be part of the future and we spent the money. Now that copper wiring is obsolete, decaying and lacks the capacity to support our needs into the future we need to rewire the place. Try plugging your modern appliances into a house that still has 1913 wiring. It's not going to work out so well. Our great-grandparents had the balls and the vision to get the job done (and help win a couple of world wars along the way). It concerns me to hear the whining voices basically saying "we don't want to spend any money on infrastructure for the future". My other concern is for the lack of understanding of the issues among those who have commented here. Simply put, radio spectrum ( that your smartphone uses to access the internet) is like a sheet of A4 paper that you have to share. With a dozen people close by you all get a reasonably big bit of paper. With 200 people close by.....not so much. So a fibre network is needed to take the load off the cellular network. This will happen by having smaller cells plugged into the fibre network. The Liberal plan is a crass politcal game. Turnbull knows that FTTP has to happen. Putting off part of the project until later means paying more. That makes no sense. Let's just get it done.



Explaining to some of these guys the differences between WiFi and wireless broadband and how they work. Is like telling them Santa or the tooth fairy aren't real. Some of them will just throw a tantrum and have a cry.

Kaz Pye


Something I do agree with is that stupid people who don't know what they are talking about should refain from commenting on these discussions (do us all a favour and take up knitting instead).
If Australia does not upgrade its speeds we will definately be left behind the rest of the world. When Cloud computing becomes the norm, anyone without a high speed connection will find themselves back in the dark ages. Software will ALL be ONLINE, so if you don't have the speed to use it online you won't have access to any software. No software = no computer. Imagine Australia going back to a society without computers, meanwhile the rest of the world progresses. Cloud computing is just around the corner, so we'd better hurry up!



Post #33, Kaz Pye - please take your own advice and take up knitting.

The problem is the 'stupid people who don't know what they are talking about' are the ones that decided to build the NBN in the first place. I agree with post #11. If the core infrastructure gets laids down, the speeds will most certainly be there at a fraction of the cost to tax payers.



For those against FTTP & pro-FTTN please read this :

I have friends that live in suburbs that are less that 15 yrs old and ALL of them are on pair-gain. Telsra rolled out copper to new suburbs and put everyone on pair-gain. For those of you that don't know : FTTN WILL NOT WORK OVER PAIR-GAIN. that means that for all these new suburbs to be able to use FTTN they will all have to have major recabling work under taken. That cost was not included in the Liberal figures. Actually they did not include quite a few costs but what the heck bury your heads in the sand and vote them in.

Also those that say that this sort of project should be undertaken by proviate enterprise - for Godsake to some research, one very large telco undertook a feasability study before the NBN was announced and came to the conclution that it would not be cost effective and they would not go into partnership with any competitors to do it.

Aldous K


My favourite trolls are the ones that can't spell Ludlam's name right. It adds a nice authentic touch.

Abel Adamski


In case you have just woken up from a long sleep, that is what we have basically had for the last dozen or so years. Been an absolutely roaring success hasn't it



Having watched Ludlam, Conroy and some Lib moron I can't even remember at the 2010 election having a technical debate over the NBN then ... Ludlam was the most technically savy by a long shot, Conroy was Pollie level tech (i.e. somewhat better than Granny- though he has improved) and the Lib had memorised FUD lines, but couldn't recite them in the right order , who was such a Luddite I was surprised he didn't try and smash the camera with a rock. (I acknowledge Turnbull is an improvement, but he still deliberately FUDs). I try and listen to people who make sense, it causes less aggravation.

We can afford it (they are paying interest on Gov bonds which is where the money is coming from), its not like they have to come up with $30 Billion out of general revenue (over 10 years), nor would they(either Gov or Opposition) be investing this money in something else like roads or hospitals, it's not an either or.
And its an investment, at the end who's cost will not only be repaid, but be a substantial asset at the end as well.



Ha EyesOpen I'd forgotten that pair-gain was another issue, thanks for the link.

In fact the ABC news website has been following the NBN very closely for some time and is a good starting point for anyone who'd actually like to do some research before gracing us with their opinions.

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