Australia’s National Broadband Network NBN.


Les Cavanagh, a Technician for 30 years, gives us some facts –


The Bottom Line: When you are laying cables in conduit in the ground commercially, the cost of the cable is very small compared to the cost of the hole.

Once you have the conduit network in the ground, replacing faulty sections of cable or upgrading cable is a very easy and relatively cheap operation.

If the conduit system is properly designed, there will be extra conduits laid for pulling other cables through while the existing ones are still working (for a minimum interruption cut-over)


So if the cable needs to be upgraded every 25 years or so, that is not a huge problem – if the network is designed properly, then there should be a continual maintenance/repair/upgrade program underway – jobs for the maintainers and the manufacturers.


Fibre has advantages over copper:

– not susceptible to lightning strike (ask anyone from Kuranda to Mareeba how often their phone lines are taken out by lightning)

– not susceptible to electromagnetic interference

– not susceptible to corrosion (why are Navy electricians called “Greenies”?)


As to the carrying capacity of optic fibre, the last time I checked, there was not a gadget invented that can saturate a fibre with data.


The idea that setting up all homes to get 100Mb/s is going to be a problem due to the capacity of the internet presupposes that the internet will remain at it’s current capacity forever.

Quoting the promised speed and using that to discredit the program is a Furphy – they are also talking about the fibre replacing the copper loop for landline telephony – with all the advantages of fibre referred to above (with the disadvantage that your fibre phone will not work in a blackout unless you have some way of supplying power to the fibre termination box).

The scheme is about making a paradigm shift from the 100+ year old copper technology to a fibre network and about having the network (Wholesale) owned by a company that is not involved in Retail.


The biggest mistake in the Telstra sell-off was that the exchanges and infrastructure should have been retained by the government and only the retail section of the business sold off.

Having a company that owns the network, is retailing serviced from the network and wholesaling access to the network to other retailers creates the apprehension of a conflict of interest.


As to wireless being a viable alternative, there are the Laws of Physics to be contended with.

The carrier frequencies of wireless systems are somewhat lower than fibre systems – red light 400 THz, 4G wireless 8GHz max.

It looks to me that fibre runs at about 50,000 times the frequency of 4G – all things being equal, 50,000 times more data can be modulated onto a red light carrier in a fibre than can be modulated onto a 4G wireless carrier.

But all things are not equal – it is common for two light signals polarised at 90 degrees to each other are sent down the same fibre and it is also common for multiple signals of different colours (wavelengths) to share the same fibre.


The other problem with wireless is that the total bandwidth available from a transmission tower is shared among all the users of that cell – to increase the available bandwidth per user requires smaller cells (so there are less users per cell) – that equals more of those towers which introduces more problems with interference, overlapping coverage etc…

And I think we are already bathing in enough man-made electromagnetic radiation as it is.

Think about this – the current heavy use of mobile phones and all this wireless signal everywhere has been going on for less than one generation of humans – we won’t be sure of the effects until late this century…


“Executives from seven of Australia’s telcos have united to lobby against the NBN, claiming Australia’s broadband future is best left to the market, and best served by ubiquitous wireless coverage.” From


These seven Telco’s are all wireless providers, so it’s no surprise they would bag the Fibre NBN.


What is often (conveniently) forgotten by people who live in Sydney/Canberra/Melbourne is that Australia is very large and has very few people living in it – therefore long distances between a lot of the people and high costs of providing infrastructure and services to rural areas.


PMG/Telecom/Telstra before being sold off worked well with people in remote areas who had phones that cost $20,000 or more each to install still paying the normal $300 connection fee and the vastly more expensive ongoing maintenance at the same cost as town services with the difference being made up by the profits made in metro areas.


Without this sort of cross-subsidisation, rural areas will always get shafted…


Tags: , , , ,

6 Responses to “Australia’s National Broadband Network NBN.”

  1. Rob says:

    Les makes some extremely good points there- Wireless is going to bottleneck very quickly, Fibre optics has multiple methods for expansion and starts off with FIFTYTHOUSAND TIMES the capacity of wireless.

    Ask yourself this question -WHO THE HECK WOULD WANT COPPER CABLE ?

    You can see Les sitting on the roof of Allegro 50 seconds into this 1990’s TV news video! –

  2. Steve says:

    But of course there remains two facts;

    1. Not everyone can or will manage to get ‘good’ reliable reception of wireless, and

    2. Based on current long term plans; neither will give us anything like the speed to which most of Asia uses; I know – I’ve been there and used it and ours is a turtle compared to theirs!

  3. Wit says:

    What is copper?
    Wireless = post pigeon
    Fibre is the answer!

  4. Steve says:

    Unfortunately the ALP’s broadband plan won’t even come close to what they have in Asia 🙁
    (otherwise there may have been one good point about them getting back in) hehe

  5. Terry Chapman says:

    That’s all very well but they will not be laying any fibre out to Saunders beach instead we will be having NBN via wireless to a repeater in Saunders Beach and each house provided they have line of sight to the mast by the Community Hall will have a receiver/transmitter on their house and hopefully all will be revealed, but as I have said before I only hope they also back up the power supply with either a generator or solar as with the other repeater down the road it failed when Yasi came thought because the batteries ran flat and no mains power. This was not restored for some 10 days so we were without phones ,internet and mobile phone. Hopefully they have learned their lesson but I doubt it.+

  6. Rob says:

    Yes Terry, but as you have read, Wireless is hugely limited compared to fibre optics, so it is very much a second best result

Leave a Reply

Subscribe without commenting