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Australians to get fibre finally

Paul Brislen, Editor. 23 September 2020, 12:50 pm

After years of wasting time and money on its fabled National Broadband Network (NBN), Australia has announced a new take on providing a fibre network. It will start a fibre-to-the-premises project with A$3.5 billion injection.

The NBN was touted as Australia's largest ever infrastructure project and promised to catapult the Australian public's internet access into the 21st century. First discussed in 2007, the project immediately bogged down on two fronts - incumbent telco Telstra's reluctance to get involved and political interference which saw the NBN become a football during a heated election campaign.

The initial budget of A$43 billion was soon spent (largely on legal bills and consultancy fees it seemed to an outside observer) and cost over-runs, missed delivery deadlines, re-designs and poor user experiences dogged the project for the next decade.

Today the NBN is largely complete, however speeds range from 25Mbit/s to 85Mbit/s for home users and the total cost so far has exceeded $A51 billion.

By contrast, New Zealand's Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) project, which started around the same time, has seen the vast majority of New Zealand households offered fibre to the home connectivity for a total cost of around NZ$3.5 billion. Users today are able to access 1Gbit/s plans for around $100 a month putting New Zealand well ahead of Australia in terms of capability and sustainability.

Australia's new NBN extension will only be offered to those households that can demonstrate a clear need for it.


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