Australia's Coalition party proposes new National Broadband Network plan

Australia's Liberal-National coalition political party has proposed an alternative plan for the country's National Broadband Network (NBN) that would use fiber to the node (FTTN), rather than fiber to the premises (FTTP) to deliver 25 Mbps speeds to the country's residents and businesses.

Opposition Leaders Tony Abbott and Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said their plan will cost only AUD 29 billion (USD 30.5 billion) versus the AUD 44 billion (USD 46.3 billion) to AUD 94 billion (USD 98.9 billion) for the current FTTP plan.

On a per-customer basis, the Coalition's plan will cost AUD 66 (USD 69.50) per month per household versus AUD 90 (USD 95.00).

Initially targeting regions that have little or no broadband options, users will be able to get 25 Mbps to 100 Mbps speeds by the end of 2016, with the minimum speed rising to 50 Mbps by the end of 2019 for 90 percent of existing wireline broadband subscribers.

"At the end of a first term of a Coalition government, there will be minimum download speeds of 25 Mbps. By the end of our second term, the vast majority of households will get access to 50 Mbps," Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said about the Coalition's broadband policy in Sydney on Tuesday. "We will be able to do this because we will build fiber to the node, and that eliminates two-thirds of the cost."

If the Coalition wins the election this upcoming September, it plans to bring FTTP only to 22 percent of Australia's premises, including those already being built by NBN Co., new housing developments, or where the copper plant was too degraded to support 25 Mbps. The other 71 percent of the market would get a FTTN connection via Telsta's (ASX: TLS.AX) existing copper facilities that are connected from the RT cabinet to the home or business.

Although the current NBN network is slated to be completed by June 2021, the Coalition says that the recent construction delays that NBN Co. reported last month due to a lack of qualified workers means that the network might not be completed until 2025.

Turnbull said that the FTTN network would require about 60,000 RT cabinets, adding that they would be able to renegotiate a new deal to gain access to Telstra's copper facilities quickly.

This plan, not surprisingly, was met with opposition from current Communications Minister Stephen Conroy who said that their proposal is "short-sighted."

"They don't think about the applications, the extra connectivity, the extra machines, the extra devices that will be connected up by all of you here, all of our children in the future; they don't think about that," he said.

For more:
- here's the Coalition party's proposal (.pdf)
- ZDNet has this article

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