The Coalition criticises the NBN as being too costly, claiming that their FTTN approach is vastly less expensive (the Coalition claims $17b less). If we work off the assumption that the copper infrastructure 'comes for free' then this might be a reasonable claim. But it doesn't. The reality is that the Australian copper network is nearing the end of its lifetime and will be in need of complete replacement in the near future followed by ongoing maintenance. To my knowledge, this cost has not been factored into the Coalition's estimates, which significantly underestimates the total long-term cost of the network. Fibre has a very long lifespan - on the order of at least half a century. This is not the case for copper, which deteriorates very rapidly, requiring constant maintenance or downright replacement. I suspect that once this is factored into the pricing, the Coalition's plan will not be quite as cheap as touted. Telstra currently spends $1b per year maintaining their copper network.