NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow exposes ‘repercussions’ of copper network


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NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow has actually called out the issues with copper compared to fiber.


The outbound CEO of NBN Co has actually fired a politely-worded missive versus the federal government’s NBN method, mentioning that yes, utilizing existing copper networks is an inexpensive method to construct a nationwide broadband network, however no, it’s not the method to get the fastest network.

Bill Morrow, who will end up at NBN Co at the end of the year, has actually ended the diplomatic care he’s kept throughout his years on top task, and detailed the failings of the union federal government’s multi-technology mix.

In a position paper silently released on Friday [PDF], Morrow provided the executive summary of NBN Co’s function in providing the nationwide broadband network, consisting of the constraints of utilizing tradition network facilities, the intricacies of offering good speeds in remote Australia and the problems of keeping a consistent bottom line as a for-profit, government-owned company.

But the most substantial position he took in the paper is the exact same one fiber perfectionists have actually been keeping for several years: Old copper innovation has its limitations.

“While the use of the existing copper and pay TV networks has led to a faster network build and a lower cost-per-premises, there are consequences to this approach,” Morrow stated.

First and primary? Speeds.

Morrow acknowledged that copper would suffice to serve speeds advised by the government-commissioned Vertigan report, which required minimum speeds of 15 Mbps into the future. Beyond that (and as we have actually seen play out in the real life) copper will fail us if we wish to press beyond 50 Mbps.

The 2nd issue with copper, according to Morrow, is the “increased fault rate and operating costs” from utilizing the old electrical wiring in the last kilometre of the rollout (from the fibre-connected node all the method to the end user).

Still, Morrow yielded the expense of repairing faults was less than providing more costly innovation all the method to every house.

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Beyond this, Morrow says NBN Co has faced issues with the cost of maintaining legacy networks while customers are moved over to the NBN, problems with digging into pits and finding old infrastructure in a worse condition than expected, or having no record at all of where the old wires were buried.

“This is a complicated industry-wide transformation with a complex build, an unprecedented pace and an often confusing demarcation between responsible parties,” he wrote.

“The end user is at the ‘pointy end’ of all of this with some who didn’t want a change at all, others who want more than what can be provided, and almost everyone who just want one company to contact, good service, a fair price and a product that meets their needs.”

It’s certainly one of the more blunt explanations we’ve seen from the head of NBN Co since he took on the job five years ago.

And with his time at the helm coming to an end, and with complaints about NBN services up a whopping 204 percent, there’s no wonder Morrow wants to get his thoughts on the record before he leaves.

The question that remains is where the NBN goes from here.

NBN Co says it’s on track to complete the task of connecting 8 million homes by 2020.

Morrow is already admitting that some telcos may choose to “bypass” NBN Co to sell services in high-profit, high-density areas (rather than offering services in regional Australia, where margins are lower). He also said some consumers may “cut the cord altogether” and not sign up to the NBN — a nod to recent headlines about the relevance of the NBN in the face of 5G.

But Morrow is happy to let those discussions go on. 

“The work will continue in improving end user experience just as the heavily debated differences of opinion about all things NBN will likely continue,” he said.

And at the end of the day as he makes his way out, Morrow is still an NBN believer.

“The vast majority of those who have worked on this transformation since its inception know they are part of something that is bigger than any one individual, something that is making a positive difference both socially and economically.”

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