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AU National Broadband Network Signs $11 Billion Deal With Telstra

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the going-for-the-gusto dept.

Networking 120

An anonymous reader writes "The Australian government has signed an $11 billion deal with the country's largest telco, Telstra, to acquire the telco's physical infrastructure and migrate customers to the National Broadband Network. The NBN is a 100Mbps open access fiber network that will be rolled out to 94% of the Australian population, with wireless and satellite to cover the remainder. The deal marks a large step forward for the new network, as without a deal to bring Telstra's customers onboard, the NBN's viability was in question."

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This will not end well (4, Funny)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 3 years ago | (#32632944)

Everyone knows wallabies love to eat fiber

Re:This will not end well (1)

iCodemonkey (1480555) | more than 3 years ago | (#32633074)

no no it's tourists they like to eat not fiber

Re:This will not end well (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#32633236)

no no it's tourists they like to eat not fiber

No .. that's the dropbears. Or the crocs, or the sharks. The rest of the animal population are just venomous.

Re:This will not end well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32634218)

Bloody dropbears always take a tourist or ten each year downunder. Lucky for the tourist industry it is as unknown internationally as great white shark attacks in the Mediterranean [google.com] .

Re:This will not end well (1)

PigIronBob (885337) | more than 3 years ago | (#32635380)

But then again, they only act as a diversion for the King Brown, the Red and Yellow bellied Black, if not for the Red Back or Funnel Web.

Yeah... (4, Insightful)

kindups (1483627) | more than 3 years ago | (#32632950)

If this was a country other than Australia I'd think it was awesome. Now this just seems as a way to further invade the internet lives of their citizens. I sure hope people can still buy private internet, but I doubt they'll be able to.

Re:Yeah... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32632964)

The quick brown nigger jumped over the lazy kangaroo.

Re:Yeah... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32633104)

The involvement of Telstra with this is far worse than the government. How bad are they?

Their Wikipedia page had to be locked because it kept being edited to read "They are a bunch of cunts"

The majority of their customers are the elderly and uninformed, layovers from when they had a monopoly. They never inform customers of rate cuts or better plans.

I found out recently my father was paying $270 a month plus call costs for his mobile - the same plan he had when he first got one of those suit case mobile phones with the first mobile roll out in Australia... they ARE a bunch of cunts.

Re:Yeah... (1)

smash (1351) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636178)

They ARE a bunch of cunts, but if you want reliable non-satellite service in remote locations, they are the only option unfortunately.

Re:Yeah... (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636770)

The real reason for the Australian Government buy back. Well it seems the previous right wing political (Liberal as in Libertarian) heavily promoted the sale of the then government institution Telstra to foreign investors. These foreign investors would of course have been spitting chips at the idea that a new government wholesale (they provide the backbone) fibre network that would provide access 'at cost or very low markup' to retail isps which of course would cripple the now privatised telecom incumbent Telstra.

Apparently as a government institution it originally had planned to go all fibre by 2005 but once privatised, typical corporate executive management altered planning to squeeze every bit of profit possible out of the copper network for as long as possible, catch 22 of cause why properly maintain it if you going to scrap it but you can-t replace it because you are throwing away your on the books valuation of billions of dollars (so collapsing reliability, combined with low speed overpriced broadband.

So to remain globally broadband competitive the Australian government was forced to do what every other country with incumbent copper network telecoms was forced to do create a new national broaband fibre network. That another ring wing political party will inevitably try to sell to the investor and campaign donor buddies, who will then slow down and strangle the network in order to raise prices with claims of bandwidth saturation in reality to try and create a broadband content delivery monopoly.

Government might fumble a bit but private corporations cheat on purpose (monopolies or cartel price fixing as an inevitability of an unregulated or corruptly lobbyist regulated market).

Re:Yeah... (4, Informative)

smash (1351) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636172)

All the NBN does is roll out the fibre for use by whatever isp or telco (they purchase/lease it off the government). The service provision is separated from the infrastructure.

I need it NOW (1)

KuRa_Scvls (932317) | more than 3 years ago | (#32632958)

I need this connection right NOW.

All the legitimate linux distros are just waiting for me to download them!

Re:I need it NOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32634142)

This raises a good question. How much more seriously will copyright violations be prosecuted when it's taking place on government provided Internet lines?

Re:I need it NOW (2)

sych (526355) | more than 3 years ago | (#32635862)

The National Broadband Network (NBN) is a Layer-2 wholesale network; your IP carriage (or whatever else is run over the fibre) is provided by your retailer, who buy access to the layer 2 wholesale network from NBN Co., the government-owned company that is building and administering the network.

I would think that litigation for copyright violations etc would then be more likely to fall on the retailer, who has a direct relationship with the end user; as the wholesaler, NBN Co. does not.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32632966)

National Broadband is a great idea! Like the US highway and interstate system.

My only concerns are privacy and censorship. It's not like they were protected before by having private telecoms, but what happens when the government runs the entire network?

That's a problem.

The solution, as I see it. Is end-to-end encryption of all data and requests so that the ISP is nothing more than a hose and does not have any way of analyzing packet traffic. Sure, programs could optionally tag their packets as high priority for video or whatever, but the standard packet would just be encrypted priority normal.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

socceroos (1374367) | more than 3 years ago | (#32635300)

Encryption won't do diddly-squat. It hasn't for quite a while now.

Whats the use of an encrypted connection when you're being mass-MITMed by the very lines you're going through?

Security through obscurity is the first step. Once you've got that down pat, then encrypt it.

Someone's going to punch me in the face for saying that.

Re:Anonymous Coward (2, Interesting)

zuperduperman (1206922) | more than 3 years ago | (#32635578)

Whats the use of an encrypted connection when you're being mass-MITMed by the very lines you're going through?

Avoiding MITM attacks is one of the primary design features of SSL / TLS. Unless the government has control of a root cert authority in your browser they can't MITM you without you getting at least a warning. Of course, I wouldn't put it past them to legislate that all browsers distributed in Austraila must ship an "Australian Government" root cert and then the game will be up ...

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

socceroos (1374367) | more than 3 years ago | (#32635622)

True, that is the point of SSL / TLS. But you'd be surprised at how many cert issuers are in the pocket of agencies like the NSA or DSD. The root certs are only as secure as the original issuer is.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

SlightOverdose (689181) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636128)

I trust SSL/TLS against malicious users, not government level sniffing. I'd almost guarantee that the NSA have copies of most root certificates for the purpose of conducting MITM attacks.

This is why I have a VPN

Re:Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32636190)

Yeah, VPN is good as long as you have a trusted network to go through. =)

Personally, I find the best method to be obscurity with a sprinkling of encryption. The obscurity bit being through 3 'out of band' networks that are scattered across the city before leaving through one of their internet connections. Only for important stuff though. =)

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

SlightOverdose (689181) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636220)

In this case, any network outside of Australia is considered "Trusted" for my purposes.

I pretty much just want to get around the whole Australian Governments "We are going to watch everything you do" policy. Specifically, their desire to log every website I visit.

Last thing I want is for the feds to bust my door down because I'm googleing a particular book by Vladimir Nabokov.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

socceroos (1374367) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636270)

Fair enough. Different lengths for different needs. =)

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

SlightOverdose (689181) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636364)


When I'm plotting my suicide terrorist schemes to kill the president by blowing up new york using illegally downloaded music and child porn, I use something a little more secure.

(Ohai there NSA!)

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 3 years ago | (#32635562)

My only concerns are privacy and censorship. It's not like they were protected before by having private telecoms, but what happens when the government runs the entire network?

That's a problem.

It does somewhat depend on which country you're in. Here in the US, for example, we do have some rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Granted, they're not always followed, but in theory at least (and in practice if you have enough money), you can get them enforced, or the violations can mean that the courts will dismiss any charges against you.

But this only applies to government agencies. As many people have explained here, the US Constitution doesn't apply to private corporations. They can intercept your communications all they like, and use the information for any purposes (or at least any profitable purposes ;-), without fear of legal repercussions. When the government does that, it's illegal. So in the US, we'd probably be better off with a government-owned Internet infrastructure.

Of course, things may be entirely different where you live. Some countries put legal controls on what private corporations can do to you, but allow the government free rein to abuse their citizens. In such countries, you should probably push for a private comm system if you want legal protections.

Good (3, Insightful)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#32632988)

Maybe now the Australian people won't get fucked by Telstra any longer. Seriously, that's got to be one of THE worst ISPs I've seen people use.

I've had more stable video conference calls on a 56k dialup.

Re:Good ( for the government ) (0, Troll)

REALMAN (218538) | more than 3 years ago | (#32633026)

Yeah, now they will be fucked by their Government instead. Who do you think has the bigger dick?

Re:Good ( for the government ) (1, Interesting)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 3 years ago | (#32633234)

Yeah, now they will be fucked by their Government instead. Who do you think has the bigger dick?

This is going to turn out one of two ways.

Best Case: the NBN operates somewhat like AmtTrak in the US, forever receiving subsidies from the national government while getting government-granted monopolies on some kinds of operation.

Worst Case: the Australian government decides that NBN is a really good start on nationalizing all Internet access in their country.

Either way, the people that think this operation will be spun off privately and profitably one day are fools.

Re:Good ( for the government ) (2, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#32634256)

Provision of last-mile services are not commercially viable, virtually every network of this type has been built with government funds.. If such a network comes under private ownership it will always be a monopoly because it isn't commercially viable to build any competing infrastructure.
Such infrastructure should always have remained controlled by a non profit wholesale provider, and let third parties brand and offer services to end users.

Its about accountability (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32634860)

If the government is a bigger dick it is YOUR FAULT if the corporation is you can only choose between dicks that screw you and they call may suck. At least with the government you can screw them back a little bit.... Plus government is non-profit with corruption overhead while the corporation requires as much overhead as the market can handle (profit) -- and for things that are needed, its a forced market where it can be made to carry even more overhead (profit.)

If you can't make government run lean enough beat a monopoly marketplace then your people are incompetent.

Re:Good ( for the government ) (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636730)

If the majority don't like the government they can vote it out.
When the majority of Telstra shareholders including one that had more than a 50% stake voted to stop the Telstra CEO from getting a five million dollar bonus for nearly running it into the ground the board ignored them.

Re:Good (1)

dwywit (1109409) | more than 3 years ago | (#32635684)

S'funny - I've heard the greatest range of responses to Bigpond/Telstra service. I deal with mostly domestic customers, plus a few small businesses, and the unhappy ones are REALLY unhappy - they'll never, ever go back to Bigpond. Most of the others, well, it just works. Telstra's business-grade offering for ADSL is OK - they're not the cheapest, or the fastest, but I've never spent more than 10 minutes on a phone queue, and issues get resolved fairly quickly. I've only stopped recommending Bigpond recently because their tech support fucked over one of my customers. The Bigpond resellers might be cheaper or faster, but you have to go through channels to resolve problems - report to ISP, who refer it to Bigpond, where it might get sent to second-level support, or a line fault gets sent to Telstra field staff - it take days or weeks to resolve line faults if your first point of contact is a reseller. The only ISPs I'll recommend are Westnet and Internode.

Re:Good (2, Insightful)

smash (1351) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636216)

This pretty much sums it up. THey're a bunch of money grabbing cunts, but if you pay (the exorbitant amount) for a high grade service, you actually get a high grade service.

To some people (businesses) this is important.

Home use though? Telstra? You're fucking crazy :D

Re:Good (1)

dwywit (1109409) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636302)

Not Telstra, bigpond. And your mileage varies, obviously. As I said, not the cheapest, or the fastest, but until recently (as I mentioned above), the tech support was better than most others I've had to deal with - the only other ISP that I've dealt with that's any good is Westnet. I'm usually called in because the end user can't decipher the accent on the other end of the phone. The amount of buck-passing and finger-pointing I've heard from some ISPs makes it not worth the hassle, or the difference in price.

Re:Good (1)

thephydes (727739) | more than 3 years ago | (#32637906)

I'll buy in as a former telstra customer - well I am 'forced" to give them line rental still but that is all. They fucked over my dad at age 78 and persuaded him that he needed a new mobile (cell) phone that he the discovered was costing him a fortune and he couldn't work out how to use anyway. I second the vote for Westnet. I have used them for a number of years and got my Dad onto them after the f-wits at Telstra did f-all to help him. Westnet may not be the cheapest - actually I don't know because I haven't checked -, but their customer service is second to none. My Dad's dsl connection is now with them and they email ME when he calls with a problem, to tell me what has transpired. Yes I pay for the connection but hell that is effing good service in my books.

Re:Good (1)

smash (1351) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636202)

I've had more stable video conference calls on a 56k dialup.

Then you're doing it wrong. Do telstra over-charge? Yes. Are they a pack of cunts? Yes. Is their tech support garbage until you get through 18 levels of helpdesk gumbies to someone with a clue? Yes. However their backbone is solid.

Unless there is some fault which you haven't managed to get telstra to sort out, the problem is not likely Telstras.

I've dealt with Telstra and other ISPs in australia for the past 15 years in both a second tier ISP capacity and for a multinational mining company - and I've yet to find anyone in australia who provides the same level of coverage combined with reliability and speed.

You pay through the nose for it though.

iinet are good (who i personally use at home), but they just don't have the coverage for remote areas.

We found the missing step (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32632990)

1. Build nationwide telecommunications infrastructure with public funds. 2. Spin it off into a private company, giving this company a monopoly on landline and most other communications. 3. Buy it back for 11 Billion. 4. Profit! (for the Telstra shareholders)

Re:We found the missing step (2, Insightful)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#32633244)

4. Profit! (for the Telstra shareholders)

Well it would be about time for them

Re:We found the missing step (1)

oztiks (921504) | more than 3 years ago | (#32634104)

Yeah, its a bit of a redundant exercise IMHO but its really the nature of the beast. The Liberal Govt sold off Telstra (and privatized it) and now we have Labor in Govt they've decided to rebuild a brand new infrastructure to replace it. One would think they would of just kept Telstra and simply fixed the problems but this is a fine example of how politics fails for the people by not considering the sake of practicality.

Now they want to transition the customers back? amidst of an economic crisis? this really sucks. The world economy is falling apart and Australia has sucked its surplus dry trying to fix it but damn it! we want fast Internet! don't worry, Ruddie will make it happen!

The problem with Telstra really was the fact that the fibre went to the node. If they took it to the premises it would of sorted it (and been cheaper than the NBN) but no it had to go through the most long and arduous, costly and impractical approach.

The NBN is a great idea but the value vs the cost isn't. I just wish politicians would just stay out of technology issues (especially Australian polies) because they always seem to get it wrong even though their intentions may seem benevolent.

Re:We found the missing step (2, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#32635830)

No new pipes to the US, no competitive data rates, held back adsl 2, count data use up and down ect.
Labor could have done this right with clean new equipment, new telcos and worlds best practice.
Now we have the same old rust belt tech grafted on.
The same crushed ducts, digital loop carrier DLC protecting telco leaders getting rehabilitated with public funding.
The only effort put into national networking was to stifle, silence and suppress any talk of one.

Re:We found the missing step (1)

Lunzo (1065904) | more than 3 years ago | (#32637532)

I blame consumers for not being informed for Telstra being dominant in ADSL. For many non-technical people "bigpond" and broadband are synonymous. Even if you try to explain alternatives they just ignore you and go with Telstra anyway. Telstra do have a huge war-chest when it comes to advertising which helps their dominance, but other ISPs have print & billboard ads. Even a small amount of digging would show up how much better the other ISPs' offerings are (more broadband for less cost).

NBNCo buying the Telstra wholesale arm is a positive step for the NBN. They get existing fibre and in rural areas copper networks (in the case of copper the digging has already been done so you just have to lay the fibre alongside the copper wires). It would be a huge waste of effort digging a second set of trenches everywhere, which was the alternative until today.

Fibre everywhere gives everyone 100Mbps internet as opposed to what we have now which is 20Mbps in cities and much slower in regional areas.

Re:We found the missing step (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#32637618)

The crushed duct database is very secret, what are we paying for?
Existing fibre is usually backhaul quality, any telco can run that out given approval.
A second set of trenches would ensure a clean install or blowing down existing ducts ect.
20Mbps in cities with copper is what 1200-1400 m of looped clean quality copper from the exchange?
http://www.internode.on.net/residential/broadband/adsl/extreme/performance/ [on.net]
Telstra's only interest seems to be a direct monopoly or a wholesale monopoly or an interconnect monopoly.
The idea that your gov optical link from a suburban home ends with a selection of other telcos optics - best effort wholesale or real hardware waiting to be linked on demand is not something they want to see.
ie just another isp.

FUD. (4, Interesting)

bbqsrc (1441981) | more than 3 years ago | (#32633002)

NBN is a private company funded by the government for now. Once it's up and running, the government will cut and run like with everything else. Trust me, this has very little to do with censorship.

For anyone truly concerned, they never tested any of their ISP-level filtering shit on the fibre networks, because they know it'll fuck up under that load. If anything, the NBN will make any further censorship proposals go away... for now.

Re:FUD. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32634332)

How much you want to bet when they cut and run, they cut it off by selling it back to Telstra for a dollar?

Re:FUD. (2, Insightful)

complete loony (663508) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636054)

Splitting telstra into retail / wholesale is a good idea.... but we just sold the thing for about $20b, and now we're buying back the wholesale half at the same time we're going to replace the infrastructure anyway?

And why on earth would the viability of the network be in question without telstra's customers? Surely a faster / better built fiber network would have a queue of customers beating down their door?

Re:FUD. (1)

Sam Ritchie (842532) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636378)

Surely a faster / better built fiber network would have a queue of customers beating down their door?

Not without running the service at a loss. Telstra offers 'fast enough' service for most users over fully-written-down infrastructure and should totally spank a commercial greenfields national FTTP network on price. The government can't run the NBN non-commercially (at a loss), otherwise the expenditure has to come on-budget.

Telstra Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32633058)

Half the fucking point of the NBN was to get away from Telstra.

who gets to turn it on/off, 'filter' stuff etc.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32633060)

that's a fair question that cannot be answered here. not that it matters?

What's with all the Australia news? (-1, Troll)

hellop2 (1271166) | more than 3 years ago | (#32633086)

Seems like we get it every day. Who cares? It's just one country.

Re:What's with all the Australia news? (1)

SailorSpork (1080153) | more than 3 years ago | (#32633138)

Come on, Australia has a population of 21MM people! If it joined the US, it would make it our 3rd largest state population-wise and that largest state area-wise! That, and if any of their government censorship antics (or nationalized broadband) are successfully implemented, don't think that the US and Western Europe won't seriously considering following suit.

Re:What's with all the Australia news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32633520)

Sorry but in the US we only nationalize Too Big To Fail Banks. We bail them out with taxpayers' money then we give them back to the same corporate sharks that bankrupt them for free (actually, for a fee but paid again with taxpayers' money...).
This is the USA and we don't care about broadband for our people, like those weird places Korea and Japan. The only concern we have about broadband is to sniff them for people's personal information without a subpoena based on our rights as a police state granted by the PATRIOT act.
Get out with your communist ideas! Move to Venezuela where they nationalize Banks that steal cash from people, and TVs that lie and ask people to kill the president.
Here we let our TVs broadcast Tea party rallies where meth-head KKK white people get together with AK47s and shout aloud they want to hang the nigro president on a tall tree, while the white police officers smile...
So, you can be a commie in Kangaroo-land if you want. Here in the USA:
If we see the Gulf of Mexxon we say:
Spill, baby, Spill.
and If we see a Mexican baby in Arizona we say:
Kill, that baby, Kill.

As RATM says: Freedom? Yeah... Freedom??? Yeah... Right...
In the US, we have the right to remain silent, anything we say can and will be used against us...

Re:What's with all the Australia news? (2)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636960)

Come on, Australia has a population of 21MM people!

21 MilliMetres?

I think you mean 22 Million people.

If it joined the US, it would make it our 3rd largest state population-wise and that largest state area-wise!

Just to clarify, Australia is 7,617,930 km2 whilst the continental United states is 8,080,464.25 km2. We are almost as big as 48 of your states put together.

And we are getting better Internet infrastructure (how are those local monopolies working out, our regulation is great) not to mention health care, education and so forth.

No point in having area a population statistics when talking about services.

or nationalized broadband

Where does it say this?


Perhaps you made it up to justify your poorly thought out rant.

The broadband will not be nationalised, The government is building the infrastructure and this will be leased to all private telco's. It's not like this was the NBN's stated goal from the word go, nor has it changed. Australia has not had a government owned telco in over 15 years. this is exactly like state owned powerlines, anyone can lease them.

And you're damned right, when the NBN is a success, European governments will follow suit, however the US will still be beholden to private corporations who want tax money to maintain the status quo. Let us know how that works out for you.

Re:What's with all the Australia news? (2, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32633140)

Australia is currently spearheading innovation in Western censorship and control. Think of it like MSDN for governments.

Re:What's with all the USAian news? (2, Insightful)

shermozle (126249) | more than 3 years ago | (#32635018)

Seems like every day there's a story about AT&T, Verizon, "cable" and "digital switchovers". It's just one country, right?

Why would (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32633402)

the Australian government want to buy a car aompany?

This is Great (4, Insightful)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 3 years ago | (#32633412)

This will save the government billions of dollars in trench digging and pole construction. This is a great sign that the NBN won't be scrapped by any upcoming parties.

On the other hand since the NBN is essentially going to either make Telstra's service a niche product or drive the company into bankruptcy, you'd think they'd just nationalize their assets anyways. But at least this way the shareholders, most of which are common Australian families, will get something out of it.

Re:This is Great (1)

SJ (13711) | more than 3 years ago | (#32635752)

The sad part about this, is it's just another case of the public getting screwed by the government. Guess what... Telstra used to be a national asset. We already HAD a "National Broadband Network" using the technology of the time. But then the government decided that wholly owned communications network wasn't something the Australia public needed, so they sold it off (and then lost the election). So now the public has to pay to get back what we already had...

And politicians wonder why they are universally hated.

Re:This is Great (1)

ashridah (72567) | more than 3 years ago | (#32637624)

Wow, this has to be some of the best revisionism I've heard in a while.

Questions to keep in mind when reading the parent:
* Just how in debt was the Australian government when they sold off nationally owned utilities, debt which they inherited from the previous administration, who's in power currently?
* Just how pathetically overbearing was Telstra, given that it owned both a consumer branch, and the infrastructure, and could essentially charge whatever they liked?
* Who's benefited in the meantime thanks to organisations like the TIO and/or the ACCC?
* How painful was it for third party ISPs to get wholesale ADSL and layer-2 routing from Telstra at a break-even price until the above organizations stepped in?

This isn't to say that there aren't concerns here (particularly on the filtering/censoring front), but separating the infrastructure from Telstra has the opportunity to ensure that wholesale to alternate ISPs is not trodden on again.

Re:This is Great (1)

Ocker3 (1232550) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636064)

This does what IT companies across Australia have been pushing for since Telstra started being privatised, it separates the network installation and maintenance side of Telstra from the sales and service side, creating a flatter competition arena. When this actually comes into force, Telstra will compete with all the other Telcos to buy network access from the NBN organisation, without having either special access to the network, or having to pay to maintain the lines while being forced to allow access at (what they claim are) non-competitive rates.

Nice if the US had such a thing (2, Insightful)

isdnip (49656) | more than 3 years ago | (#32634238)

The Telstra-NBN deal illustrates how the telecom industry should be restructured.

In the US, recent policy has moved in exactly the opposite direction, towards more vertical integration, so the telephone companies, who own wires built with monopoly money, don't have to let competing ISPs use them at all. They only have to let competitive phone companies (CLECs) use them under certain circumstances, which are shrinking; this basically is limited to old copper wire in urban areas and town centers.

A "LoopCo" would be a company that owns the outside wire and leases it equally to all comers, building fiber for all who want to rent it, even cable. One fiber plant is a lot easier to afford than two or three. The original NBN plan would have built a new fiber plant to compete with Telstra; as customers moved off of Telstra's old copper network, Telstra would have lost money. Telstra blinked: They're selling their existing plant to NBN, so that they will be the biggest wholesale customer, not a competitor. Telstra wins: They get to use the new network, and get paid A$11B for their old wire. The country wins: They get NBN's new fiber, and don't have to fight Telstra all the way, or pay twice.

The Bells in the US do not see it this way. Nor does the FCC, which is squarely in their pocket. Expect the US to fall farther and farther behind, as the farce called "National Broadband Plan" leads to more of the same, just with higher taxes to subsidize CenturyTel, TDS, and other rural subsidy whores who can use the subsidy money to put local wireless ISPs, who are not eligible for subsidies (only one subsidy recipient in a given place - it's literally a monopoly fund) out of business.

It's a tradeoff. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#32634522)

Sure... hop onto the nice, fast, cozy, government-provided internet.

And in exchange, accept ubiquitous monitoring and censorship.

Sorry, but the Australian government has gone far too Orwellian for me. If I had a choice of being on a government-sponsored internet, I would insist that it be just like phone lines: no censorship, and no monitoring without a warrant.

Re:It's a tradeoff. (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | more than 3 years ago | (#32635236)

meh, the filter is stupid but it's just a dumb blacklist. I'm really not that worried that the government is somehow going to monitor 10 million internet connections for shits and giggles.

Re:It's a tradeoff. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32636554)

It's not just the filter the GP post was referring to - they actually are pushing for mandatory surveillance of internet activity for all Australians. It's just a different policy.


Kevin Rudd and the rest of these bastards fucking disgust me. Even Abbott would be better from a civil rights perspective, and that's saying a lot.

Re:It's a tradeoff. (1)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636266)

I'm still not sure if the government is actually serious about the filter.

They've been in for the better part of three years now and it's never even come close to coming up for a vote. They've certainly talked about it enough, but they've never even tried to pass it, despite the fact that they could probably actually get it across the line, especially if they actually played the "think of the children" card. They've tried to pass a whole bunch of other things which they didn't have a hope in hell of passing and which have cost them a lot more votes than the filter would, but they've never even tried to pass the filter.

Re:It's a tradeoff. (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636910)

Sure... hop onto the nice, fast, cozy, government-provided internet.

But it's not. The government is building the dark fiber which will be sold at wholesale prices to private ISP's. We don't have a public Telco any more.

And in exchange, accept ubiquitous monitoring and censorship.

What monitoring and censorship. Most Labor MP's don't want it and have openly said so. The Coalition will oppose it just because it's a Labor idea.

I would insist that it be just like phone lines:

But it is. Exactly like phone lines in Australia exist today except we wont be beholden to the whims of a single (now) private corporation with unrealistic pricing.

Re:It's a tradeoff. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#32637462)

None of you folks have been watching the news, have you?

Re:It's a tradeoff. (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#32637900)

None of you folks have been watching the news, have you?

I've read the NBN proposal. Have you?

News, and by "News" I mean biased and uninformed reporting is not a trustworthy source of information. Especially if it's a US news channel. I highly doubt you have any credible information that I don't already posses, but if you think you do front it up rather then making false statements.

The NBN is an infrastructure program, like building water pipes or power lines. The government leases these lines out to anyone who wants them and the government maintains them. My service will be with iinet, Internode, Optus or any other private telecommunications operator I choose. You have to be certifiably retarded to call this "nationalised" when services can and will be provided in their entirety by private entities.

We've had 15 years of a private entity maintaining the copper in AU, in that time jack has been done to upgrade it. But I guess that's OK because the "ebil gubbermint" has nothing to do with it. Sir or Madam, kindly get a clue.

This will be obsolete before it's completed. (1)

oliau (1759638) | more than 3 years ago | (#32634936)

Like most major infrastructure projects in Australia, by the time this is completed (or even available in certain areas while others are still unconnected) it will be obsolete. There are providers offering much higher speeds in new residential estates already.

Re:This will be obsolete before it's completed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32635828)

You're ignoring the fact that with FTTP 100Mb/s is only the slowest speed. It's possible to offer Gigabit over the same fibre.

Re:This will be obsolete before it's completed. (1)

smash (1351) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636238)

Also ignoring the fact that this is about getting fibre in the ground, for use by third party switching/routing hardware. Once the fibre is in the ground, ramping speed up is a simple case of fitting better gear end to end.

Bandwidth on fibre is virtually unlimited (for the foreseeable future), you just need to develop/install better routers. Its possible to get 10gig and 100gig over the same fibre with good enough equipment (which will be released in due course).

Re:This will be obsolete before it's completed. (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636386)

One of the 3 proposed systems I know about is exactly like Versions FiOS system that is delivering up to 35 mb. The only reason they are saying 100 mb here is that they aren't planning for as many cable TV channels (which is another mistake). Also that is only 100 mb down, not both ways. None of the proposals are FTTP, they are just FTTN where the node is a passive splitter. The result is your sharing the link all the way back and the means you may have to upgrade everyone if you want to push the the speed of just one customer. Its why PON rollouts are being reduced in the rest of the world where people are asking for gig speeds or they run a hybrid system of PON for the average customers but have enough spare fibers to give higher speeds when they need to. I'm not aware of anyone offering bidirectional gigabit speeds that is using any sort of PON.

Re:This will be obsolete before it's completed. (1)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636638)

No copper network in any real world scenario is delivering >100 megabit connectivity, those new housing estates have fibre to the premises(which is exactly what the government is trying to give to everyone else.

More Money for Telstra? Again? (1)

pilkch (1467025) | more than 3 years ago | (#32635012)

Seriously, wtf? Just ignore them and let them die a slow and painful death. Create a government funded company that *just* does infrastructure and only sells bandwidth to ISPs. The end user can only get a plan from one of these ISPs. Keep the infrastructure entirely separated from the end user and we can avoid a mess like selling Telstra again. Oh yeah, last step, don't get fucking greedy and sell this new company either.

Re:More Money for Telstra? Again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32635272)

Seriously, wtf? Just ignore them and let them die a slow and painful death. Create a government funded company that *just* does infrastructure and only sells bandwidth to ISPs.

Um, this is exactly what the NBN is. They are dealing with Telstra so that they can reuse the existing network rather than having to build another identical network over the top of it. If they didn't it would have cost a lot more than 11 billion. Telstra only signed the deal because the governement were going to block them from all future mobile spectrum auctions if they didn't. And mobile is the only profitable game left.

It seems there are some devilish details... (1)

SigmaTao (629358) | more than 3 years ago | (#32635040)

I just read another article about this, NBN deal [theaustralian.com.au] , which indicates:

* Telstra gets to be removed from universal service obligation
* and there will be yet another company setup to look after unprofitable telco services to rural and regional Australian - called USO Co - with only 50 million to do with with (at least to begin with)

As to filtering - I still think it is a part of a master plan to create a backbone which is filtered before it ever reaches ISPs. They won't/aren't concerned with filtering overhead and never will be. They only want to be able to control the flow of free information into Australia.

Re:It seems there are some devilish details... (1)

Biogenesis (670772) | more than 3 years ago | (#32635268)

Telstra's universal service obligation is what makes them horribly expensive for the bulk of the population. They seem to have a policy of a nation wide pricing structure, so city customers essentially subsidise country customers. Maybe, just maybe, this will result in slightly lower prices from them and therefore more competition. Right now the only city Telstra customers are the mums, dads and grandparents who don't want to research telecommunications services (because, frankly, it's boring at bat shit) and go with Telstra because it's a name they've always been with.

Re:It seems there are some devilish details... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#32635870)

Telstra is huge in marketing and sells speed.
On rust belt adsl, 2+ its really just the laws of physics and quality limits, distance.
The universal service obligation comes with many neat options too, like road removal ect.
Recall how smaller Australian telcos had to beg and fight to lay small amounts of city optical?

Re:It seems there are some devilish details... (1)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636662)

Which is how it always should have been. Privatizing the network meant that Telstra had to be saddled with all sorts of ridiculous legislation to stop it from becoming an abusive monopoly, and to ensure service to the bush. That's the primary reason why Telstra shares aren't worth spit, because Telstra can't be competitive, no matter how hard they try.

Universal service should always have been a government thing because it's a massive money sink which is supposed to be there for the good of society.

Correction to the article (2, Informative)

noisyinstrument (1624451) | more than 3 years ago | (#32635392)

"The NBN is a 100Mbps open access fiber network that will be rolled out to 94% of the Australian population"

Currently, the plan is only 90% coverage with fibre, although the recent report by KPMS suggested they increase that to 92%. I believe the 94% is the current (claimed) Telstra ADSL coverage.

Re:Correction to the article (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636280)

Except that in housing areas full of California millionaires only gets about 80% to 85% coverage in the US. The figures for the NBN in Australia are just wrong.

They're buying a bit of a dog's breakfast... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32635452)

Having worked in the industry for a while now, I can tell you that Telstra's copper network is in pretty poor shape. For the last 3 years or so, there has been a standing order of "temporary repairs" in place - no permanent fixes to problems, just run a cable across the ground, or jumper individual services onto other pairs to get it up and running. There's a HUGE problem in the copper network for "gel affected" joints - basically, the waterproof boxes used to seal joins of cable together aren't...waterproof. Water gets in, gets sucked up into the cable, and eventually the whole range dies. This is such a problem that there's a specific "clear code" - used by techs to notify head office of the problem/solution to a fault - of "network - fault in network - gel affected - temporarily repaired - job submitted for permanent fix".

The other problem I see is that individual lead-in's (cable running from the street to the house) are almost always direct buried 2-pair cable - there's no conduit running from the street to the house, just a sheathed cable (see http://www.phoneworks.net.au/General/phone_line.php [phoneworks.net.au] for what I'm talking about) - digging down and replacing a lead-in isn't a huge job, but who is going to pay for it? The subscriber? Telstra? If Telstra were to do it, the only way to do it right would be to do it in bulk - its not worth the contractor's time to do it otherwise.

Re:They're buying a bit of a dog's breakfast... (1)

p3anut (1131451) | more than 3 years ago | (#32635624)

I do love my internet dropping out when it's raining :( Starting to happen to me more often.

Re:They're buying a bit of a dog's breakfast... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32635996)

I work for Telstra and (blah blah blah insert obligations to say something like this and what not) and just the other day I saw a repair docket that had been having ongoing "temporary" fixes for 4 years now with no permenant fix coming any time soon.

Re:They're buying a bit of a dog's breakfast... (1)

jeffrey.endres (1630883) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636058)

I think that there is a "fit-for-use" clause. I noticed it in one of the briefings [commsday.com] . Of course, migrating to fibre means that these problems should no longer be problems.

$11bn?!?! (1)

noz (253073) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636248)

How much did the Government sell Telstra for in the first place? ;-)

Re:$11bn?!?! (1)

Arkem Beta (1336177) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636388)

Wikipedia suggests that a third of Telstra was worth $14bn in 1997. The current market cap of Telstra is $41.8bn (which actually suggests that the company is worth less today than it was in 1997). Telstra's total assets run to approximately $37bn. The Government still owns about 10% of Telstra through its future fund.

$11bn would be about 26% of the total value of all Telstra's stock or 29% of the value of its assets.

Paying Twice (1)

sincewhen (640526) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636842)

That infrastructure already belonged to the people of Australia, since we initially paid for it (when the Government initially built it).
Then it was given away as part of Telstra when the company was partly privatised.
Now we have to pay for it again so we can replace it.

Australia's issues (1)

squidfaceExtreme (1231730) | more than 3 years ago | (#32636850)

Basically the reason Stephen Conroy is the Net Minister is because he knows how to get the telcos rolling with the NBN. I don't think they expected him to be a complete nutjob regarding the other stuff.

bend over (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32638058)

bend over, and pass the vas-o-line. 11 Billion dollars for an infrastructure that the Govt used to own. It should make Telstra shares worthwhile. Bah! I dont know if I should laugh or cry. The details were that any TOWN that had over 1000 people would get fibre to the home, the rest get, Wireless or satellite, Telstra owns the biggest 3G network, Optus owns(?) the satellites, I'm either going to miss out or pay double. And Rural users will get ??? This is just soooo wrong, large number of people don't give a crap about fast internet, yet they are going to pay for the option anyway.

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