NBN by the numbers

April 7, 2009 — 11 Comments

$42 billion ($42,000,000,000).

Households in Australia: 7.4m (2001), projected at 10.2m in 2026. (ABS)

Est in 2009 (based on above figures) 8.296m

Cost per household of NBN (at 100% rollout): $5,063 per house.

Note that Fibre will only go to 90% of houses by 2018. Remaining 10% will be serviced by wireless or satellite. Whether this provision of the remaining 10% is dearer or cheaper I don’t know. I’d bet the 10% is cheaper, which makes the cost of the fibre higher again.

Comparative costs of “high speed” broadband in other countries:

Japan: to 160mbps $28 ($20 US) per household.
Note, that this rollout utilizes existing infrastructure as is an upgrade. Infrastracture that is already in place in most Australian capital cities (cable.)

United States: $1,141 (US$817. Conversions at 7/4)
This is the better comparison because Verizon is physically connecting homes to fibre as the NBN will do. The United States, like Australia has a large land mass, so doesn’t get the density advantage in play in Japan. Note Verizon currently offered at 50mbps, but the fibre network could sustain more; the suggestion being that the 50mpbs is more a market cap than technological constraint. Second: it’s the same sort of fibre.

Source on both figures: New York Times.

So it costs $3922 per house more to roll out “high-speed” broadband in Australia vs The United States, or a staggering $5,035 per house more vs Japan.

Doesn’t matter anyway: it will never be finished. Politicians and long plans: be seen to do something now, and do nothing later.

Update: should be noted vs US: Australians are less spread out. You’d actually cover less territory in Australia to get to 90% (for fibre) than the US. Interesting to consider: if Australian cities were in the US, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth would make the top ten. Even Adelaide has more people that San Antonio, currently 10th in the biggest cities in the US list (here)

Update2: pointed out by tahpot on Twitter: the US figure doesn’t count “US$716 for equipment and labor in each home that subscribes.” But does the NBN? Is Rudd proposing a subsidy at the end as well? because I thought this was a wholesale access rollout and the retailers would cop the end charge.

But lets play none the less, because the gap is still dramatic.

Verizon: $2140 AUD. Still cheaper by over half.