Since British Telecom’s fibre-to-the-cabinet rollout is the example Mr Turnbull favours, let’s take a look at it.
Question: Does the rollout deliver high speeds?
BT currently claims a maximum of 80 Mbps over copper. As always, with a copper-based technology, “your mileage may vary”.
Question: Can customers upgrade to fibre?
Answer: Yes, in some cases.
Question: What’s the fibre-to-the-cabinet reach?
Answer: Currently around 60 percent of the UK population.
Question: How many exchanges are required to deliver that reach?
Answer: Around 1,300, if this list is accurate: http://www.samknows.com/broadband/exchanges/bt/fttc.
Question: How long did the rollout take to reach 1,376 exchange areas?
Answer: Around four years. Call it 340 exchanges per year – at which rate, Australia would have VDSL2 services replicating current ADSL2+ services in, oh, about 8 years. Give or take. Your mileage may vary…
The absolutely inescapable point of this little conceit is simple: Australia is not the UK. Pack 60 million people into Victoria; concentrate them tightly enough that you still have farmland and (in Scotlant) tundra; deliver broadband in a way that your rural users complain they can’t get it, and then use that as a model for Australia.
As I said, if Australia were to match the UK’s rollout rate, we might match its KPIs, but the actual Liberal Party target for fibre-to-the-whatever would take nearly as long as the NBN.
But I don’t blame Malcolm Turnbull. I blame the supine, spavined, sleepwalking slackness of journalists who by hell should be smart enough, Google-savvy enough and care enough to actually test the case study. The research took me a little bit of down-time, not enough to justify asking someone to pay me for – which is why this is a blog post instead of an article.
Off yo' asses, my colleagues. Research or retire.