The political message of the Coalition’s Plan for Real Action on Broadband and Telecommunications is that they can deliver the same outcome as Labor’s National Broadband Network (NBN) for $6 billion instead of $43 billion, sooner and with less risk. But while both Labor and the Coalition promise headline speeds of between 12 and 100 megabits per second (Mb/s) for 97% of the population and satellite for the rest, they’re otherwise wildly different propositions.

A broadband network is, simplistically, these pieces. A customer access network (CAN) connecting everyone to the local exchange. A backhaul network running between cities connecting the exchanges together. A core network that ties it all together, connects to the rest of the world, and provides administrative functions such as metering. Together these constitute the wholesale network.