Location of NBN fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) cabinets

nbn co lack of transparency

The national broadband network (NBN) in Australia is owned and managed by nbnco limited (ABN 86 136 533 741), a company which, although subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth), has shown a distinct unwillingness to release information under FOI about, well, almost anything at all. Several people have made public requests through Right To Know for information about the location of the fibre-to-the-node cabinets that mark the end-point of the NBN optic-fibre network for a majority of households in Australia. None has been successfl. See, for example, the requests by me, by Karen L, and by Rick Torre.

It occurred to me that it would be possible to build a database of all, or almost all, of the FTTN cabinets in Australia if people were willing to submit their local information to a central data base. With that in mind, I’ve been photographing and noting the location of FTTN cabinets that I see and I hope to build an online repository that combines the cabinet names, locations and photographs. I’d be interested in receiving more information from readers. Please use the comments to submit details of any cabinets you see. Be sure to include the code-word MONKEY, the name of the FTTN cabinet and its GPS or, perhaps more simply, its what3words coordinates … otherwise the comment is likely to disappear automatically into the trash.

Here are the locations of a few cabinets

Note, the latitude and longitude are derived from Google Maps, which uses WGS 84 Web Mercator as its coordinate system. If one uses The List, from the Tasmanian Government, one gets the coordinates in the GDA94 system.

Name: FTTN Cabinet 7MGT-01-03-FNO-001
Latitude: -43.03719442 (43°02’13.9″S), Longitude:147.26587929 (147°15’57.17″E)
what3words: sponsorship.trash.shrugs

Name: FTTN Cabinet 7MGT-01-11-FNO-001
Latitude: -43.02978639 (43°01’47.23″S), Longitude: 147.27215363 (147°16’19.75″E)
what3words: heckle.lifting.sneaky

Name: FTTN Cabinet 7MGT-01-02-FNO-001
Latitude: -43.02932072 (43°01’45.55″S), Longitude: 147.26216443 (147°15’43.79″E)
what3words: flooring.lightbulb.formations

Name: FTTN Cabinet 7MGT-01-01-FNO-001
Latitude: -43.02498643 (43°01’29.95S), Longitude: 147.26052694 (147°15’37.9″E)
what3words: lawnmower.mere.dozes

Name: FTTN Cabinet 7MGT-01-07-FNO-001
Latitude: -43.06694496 (43°04’1.00S), Longitude: 147.25567817 (147°15’20.44″E)
what3words: stamps.broader.playhouse

One last thing, if you look carefully at the satellite images on Google Maps, you can spot the distinctive green cabinets at each of the marked locations.

3 comments on “Location of NBN fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) cabinets

  1. Hayden says:

    Your FOI seemed to have some promise, they seemed to even be willing to provide the entire database instead of just a localised list.

    Would you be willing to take the request further? I’d be interested in contributing.

    Also, do you think it’s likely to be successful if the amount is paid?

  2. mrd says:

    @Hayden. You sound very much more hopeful than I feel about the possibility of the NBN agreeing to provide me with the documents that I sought in the FOI request I made through Right to Know! Perhaps I should explain my scepticism. First, I think that the NBN actively dissuades people from using the FOI Act. Every letter that they send contains a detailed section explaining that the commercial activities of nbnco are exempt from FOI. More than that, they tacitly imply that almost everything they do is a commercial activity and that one would be wasting one’s time and money to pursue an FOI application. Second, I think that the assertion in the first response from the NBN, to the effect that widespread knowledge of the location of FTTN cabinets could raise “security and commercial concerns”, beggars belief. The location of telephone exchanges (each of which routes many more connexions than any individual FTTN cabinet), is published on the web. From that, I infer that rather than asking themselves (in the spirit of the FOI Act), “how can we make this information public?”, they ask instead, “what can we do to keep this information secret?”. Third, I think it beggars belief to suggest that there is no central or consistent approach to being able to identify and locate every FTTN cabinet. Finally, the approach to charging for FOI access is, in my view, misconceived. Is it really going to cost $170 to locate the cabinets connected to two small telephone exchanges?

    So, although I think your offer to contribute is very generous (and at one stage I though of crowd-sourcing the amount as a test-case), I think the money would be wasted, at least in the first instance. One might succeed in an appeal to the Information Commissioner, but my record of success on that front is very poor, as you will discover if you search austlii.edu.au for my name in the decisions of the AAT and of the Information Commissioner.

    If you want to pursue the request, you could take up where I left of with Right to Know. You could submit, on your own initiative, a request phrased in exactly the terms that I phrased my reduced-scope request, and see what happens after that.

  3. Hayden says:

    Thanks for the response.

    I think it was less optimism and more “try and find out”-ism. Would be awesome to set up a website with every node location, and would give people a really good idea about what sort of distance they’ll be getting when they sign up.

    If I do end up paying and continuing the request, I’ll do it closer to the date of completion, that way the paid for list will be more complete.

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