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Wednesday, 10 November 2021 11:07

Malcolm Turnbull needs to explain dodgy cut-down NBN rollout figures Featured

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Malcolm Turnbull needs to tell Australians why figures were hidden in the 2013 study. Malcolm Turnbull needs to tell Australians why figures were hidden in the 2013 study. Courtesy YouTube

Malcolm Turnbull has some explaining to do about the costs of the NBN this morning, after Guardian Australia reported figures hidden in a report commissioned by him showed a full-fibre NBN or a multi-technology mix would have cost about the same.

The figures that were touted at the time the plan was changed were about one-third of what they actually were, the report claimed, with the cost blowout since the 2013 report making both plans cost about the same.

The original plan, conceived by Labor, called for 93% of premises to get fibre, and the rest to be served through satellite or fixed wireless. This was changed in 2013 after the Coalition came to power.

Turnbull did a switcheroo after commissioning a study; under this, the majority of homes received fibre-to-the-node, estimated at costing between $600 and $650 each. Also in the revised plan was the use of hybrid fibre coaxial, which was put at between $800 and $850 per premise.

The study claimed that Labor's plan would eat up $74 billion and be completed only in 2024, while the Coalition's cut-down plan would only cost $41 billion and be over and done with by 2020.

But the Guardian report said upgrade issues had resulted in a three-fold cost blowout, with FttN connections now costing $2330 and HFC at $2572 in the latest NBN Co corporate plan.

Given Turnbull's eagerness to comment on everything under the sun these days, one would expect the former prime minister to come out with a statement – and a lengthy one, too.

But given that he is not exactly shown in a positive light in this report, maybe Turnbull will stay silent for once.

The Guardian report said that even if one factored in the infrastructure costs which were being added to installation costs by the NBN Co since 2015, the costs for FttN and HFC were more than double the estimated cost.

In September last year, the NBN Co outdid even the most skilled acrobat in Cirq du Soleil by doing an about-turn and announcing that it would spend an additional $3.5 billion to provide fibre to most homes by 2023.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said of this backflip: "From the outset, the plan set out in our 2013 Strategic Review was to get the network rolled out as quickly as possible – and then deliver upgrades when there was demand for them."

If you believe that, then you will also believe that I have a bridge in my backyard that connects me directly to Tasmania. And I am willing to sell it for a small sum. All offers welcome.


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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