Bill Shorten still hasn't outlined Labor's NBN plan clearly

Labor leader Bill Shorten promised a “first-rate fibre National Broadband Network” in his budget reply last night, but stopped short of detailing whether it would be full fibre.

Labor is yet to completely outline its NBN plans, but has suggested several times now that it would involve more fibre than the Coalition’s current plan.

Speaking at the CommsDay summit last month, shadow communications minister Jason Clare said he believes rolling out fibre to the distribution point is the way the NBN should head.

“Fibre to the driveway provides download speeds that are up to 10 times faster than Malcolm Turnbull’s fibre to the node network,” he said.

“NBN Co has conceded that the cost of rolling out fibre to the pit out the front of your house is now almost the same cost as fibre to the node.

“Given this, if NBN Co can roll out fibre almost to your front door for almost the same cost as fibre to the node and give you much higher speeds — why aren’t they doing it?”

A big part of the Coalition’s NBN policy is fibre to the node technology, which sees fibre optics rolled out to the nearest internet node (think those big green boxes) leaving the older copper network to do the rest.

Theoretically that delivers speeds of up to 100Mbps, however the further away a user is from the node, the worse the connection. This where Labor and NBN analysts believe the problem is with FTTN technology.

Fibre to the distribution point on the other hand, would see a thinner fibre cable run to the street lead-in pit, joining the existing copper cable homes use. This means the copper length is lower with higher, more consistent speeds as well as the added benefits of not needing to dig up the front yard and the ability to upgrade to full fibre if subscribers want.

But while the NBN was originally a Labor policy, adapted during Turnbull’s time as communications minister, the ALP under Shorten has yet to make clear what path it will take beyond the promise it will be “first-rate”.

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