According to reports today, NBNCo has conceded the company has started planning upgrades to the network after its 2020 completion date, aware the current network will not be able to meet the needs of Australians into the future.

If confirmed, these reports represent a stunning admission that Malcolm Turnbull’s second-rate NBN has been a complete failure, with NBNCo’s own engineering core declaring the clock is ticking on Fibre to the Node (FTTN).

Experts have been warning for years the upgrade of FTTN to fibre requires a demolition and costly overbuild of the existing FTTN network. It is for this reason that Malcolm Turnbull’s own 2013 election policy states that only “50 per cent of the capital expenditure required for FTTN is later applicable to FTTP” upgrade.

The Government’s NBN financials out to 2040 have not set aside a cent for an upgrade of the copper network, and taxpayers are being treated with contempt.

Labor is calling on the Government to explain how much these retro-fitted upgrades will cost, and how many billions of dollars have been wasted by pushing ahead with a copper rollout that is not fit-for-purpose. Malcolm Turnbull must explain why he continues to use taxpayer’s money to deploy copper infrastructure that will soon be redundant, instead of rolling out fibre to the home, or at a minimum to the kerb.

Further, the Government’s 2018 NBN Corporate Plan must reflect the cost of any planned upgrades in the out-years, and the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) should be adjusted to reflect the full cost of this wasteful and incoherent rollout. The Turnbull Government cannot continue with its charade of under-reporting the true costs and fiscal implications of its flawed NBN.

The half-way stage of the NBN rollout is no cause for the Government to give itself a pat on the back. People across the community are fed up with ongoing slow speeds, dropouts, and the inability to have their NBN problems resolved — and now Australians are being told despite all their hardship during the migration, the network needs to be upgraded again.

This is not engineering or economics. It’s a mess.