[LINK] Demand 'still not there' for 1Gbps: NBN Co

Stephen Loosley stephenloosley at outlook.com
Wed Feb 15 22:36:57 AEDT 2017

David writes,

> What is the value of lives saved? What is the value of lives enhanced?
> What is the value of business facilitated? Not having the infrastructure
> carries costs as well.

Altogether an interesting and well argued debate from both positions regarding our infrastructure options.

Regarding these, and perhaps of interest, this afternoon on the NBN website is a blog by Bill Morrow. He’s the Chief Executive Officer of nbn. He does make some interesting points, naturally in defence of our nbn, but still none-the-less interesting …


Published on 15/02/2017 Last updated on 15/02/2017 at 16:22pm

Gigabit broadband: The facts

There has been a lot of discussion in recent days around the need for Gigabit broadband in Australia – let’s set some things straight…

The nbn™ network is here to bring fast broadband to all of Australia by 2020 – more than 4 million premises already have access to fast broadband via the nbn™ network today.

In just a few months we will be at the halfway point of the rollout.

Next year, we will be three quarters built. By 2020 we will be complete. What once seemed impossible is now a reality.

I was asked last week by the media about the need for Gigabit (Gbps) speeds in Australia. These are lines that are 40 times faster than plans based on our most popular 25Mbps wholesale service.

The fact is, nbn already offers a wholesale 1Gbps product to retail service providers, which RSPs can make available to more than 1.5 million homes, and has been on sale for around four years.

Currently, there are no retail 1Gbps speed plans on offer from the retailers.

This is, in our opinion, because there is still minimal consumer demand for these ultra-fast speeds – especially at the prices retailers would have to charge for them.

Our own data shows that 83 per cent of people on services powered by the nbn™ network today are ordering retail services based on the two lowest wholesale speed tiers 25/5Mbps and 12/1Mbps.

There is currently around a $20-$30 monthly difference between what retailers charge for plans based on our 25/5Mbps wholesale service and our 100/40Mbps wholesale service – but only 13 percent of end-users are willing to pay that relatively small premium for access to that faster tier.

We have to be realistic about what the market is actually telling us about demand for ultra-fast services.

Of course, the demand for Gigabit speeds could, and probably will, change – current plans for FTTP and DOCSIS 3.1 HFC suggest they will be able to deliver such speeds to around 5 million premises on the nbn™ network by 2020 and the other parts of our network, with the exception of satellite, have upgrade paths to offer the same ultra-fast speeds when demand comes around.

Rather than build for a demand that may materialise in 10 years, we are constructing a national network capable of continuous upgrading to meet market needs as and when they arise.

There is little point in adding to the already high $49 billion cost of the nbn™ network to provide a capability that end users do not yet require and RSPs are not selling.

Gigabit demand

We spend a lot of time researching overseas markets about Gigabit speeds, and the trends are not what you might think.

We have met with global operators offering 1Gbps services and they willingly concede that their end-users are simply not using speeds anywhere near 1Gbps – in fact, they would be lucky to actually ever use a fraction of that speed – so, at present, the Gigabit game is really about marketing, not actual utility.

Even in a heavy usage household, right now it’s likely you’d struggle to generate the need for anything close to 1Gbps – if you had five 4K TVs streaming 4K movies simultaneously then that’s only around 100Mbps being consumed – leaving 900Mbps idle.

Given that the vast majority of current online video viewing is in SD or HD – requiring only 2Mbps-5Mbps then a 1Gbps pipe would be enough to stream 200 HD streams simultaneously – way, way beyond the requirements of a normal household.

Cost is the key .. (snip)

Markets like Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan started their deployment of high-speed broadband in the late 1990s and having fully recouped their investments in delivering FTTB with VDSL – typically offering up to 100Mbps – are now delivering 1Gbps and even 10Gbps via FTTP.

For a variety of reasons, our broadband upgrade in Australia started much later, so we cannot judge ourselves against markets like these; they are much further along on their journey and you just can’t compare Australia to Singapore or Hong Kong for obvious reasons including those stated above.

This is why operators around the world are so excited about technologies like DOCSIS 3.1 and G.fast, which allow Gigabit broadband to be deployed at substantially lower price points and in far less time than it takes to deploy Gigabit services over FTTP – and we will see both of these technologies emerge much more fully in the next few years globally as well as here in Australia.


We know that people in Australia want access to fast internet – that is precisely what we are aiming to deliver with the nbn™ network.

We also know that 1Gbps speeds are simply way beyond what even the most advanced end-user needs today, let alone what is needed by regular families across Australia.

There is literally not a single mass market consumer application – or even a combination of applications – that requires 1Gbps capability right now.

This will change in the future, especially as augmented reality, artificial intelligence, 8K technology and virtual reality penetrate our daily lives.

In fact, we hope that by delivering a fully connected continent we can help create a market for Gigabit applications – and when Australians need those kinds of speeds we will have the solutions in place to provide it.



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