Turnbull: Our Broadband Plan Could Cost Same As NBN, But With A Catch

The Coalition is running its broadband plan up the flagpole as a cheaper solution for nation-wide high-speed internet that will be delivered to us faster. It’s interesting to note, however, that the architect of the policy, Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull is now saying that the cost to connect each home could end up being the same as the price it is to connect to the government’s National Broadband Network (NBN), sort of.

Turnbull’s plan will see the nation connected to high-speed broadband via a fibre-to-the-node strategy. That means that instead of running fibre down every street to every home in Australia like the Government’s more-expensive fibre-to-the-home plan, fibre broadband will be run to boxes or “cabinets” at the end of just about every street. The last-mile between the node and the home will be connected up via the existing copper network so as to save some cash and get broadband delivered faster.

The Coalition has said that its plan will cost the country $29 billion compared to the Government’s planned $37.4 billion, mostly because the Coalition’s plan cuts down on labour costs.

The Coalition’s entire broadband plan is based on the idea that nobody needs 100Mbps broadband piped into their house right now. If you do need it, then you can shell out some cash to your local telco who will connect your house up to the node via a fibre connection rather than saddling you with the copper. Therein lies the rub: the Coalition doesn’t really know the remaining life of the nation’s copper network, and when it eventually fails — which it will — it will replace the lines with fibre anyway.

It’s for this reason that Turnbull thinks it might actually end up costing exactly the same in the long term. In a doorstop interview yesterday, Turnbull told CIO that a conservative estimate to connect fibre to the node would be about $900, while the cost of connecting a home to fibre to the home would be $3600.

Turnbull argues that because the average household doesn’t need more than 25Mbps right now, the company deploying the network isn’t going to see a return on investment on the FTTH investment for some time, and the extra few thousand dollars per home can be invested somewhere it’s actually needed first.

Sound theory, but he added that once the copper does need to be replaced with fibre it’s going to cost exactly the same, it just won’t cost that right now.

Turnbull said that by prolonging the switch to FTTH, you get more flexibility in how you actually want to deploy your network.

Read the full piece over at CIO for more info. [CIO]

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