NBN study is 'policy chaos': Turnbull

NBN study is 'policy chaos': Turnbull

Summary: Australian Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley's idea for a broadband study is four years too late.


The proposal by NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley for an industry-led study into the various different types of broadband roll-outs is a "bizarre twist" in the ongoing debate over the best National Broadband Network rollout, according to Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

On Friday, Quigley said in an American Chamber of Commerce speech that, as the broadband debate in Australia over whether fibre-to-the-premise or a fibre-to-the-node approach was best had now become "serious", there was an opening for industry group the Communications Alliance to conduct a study of the various technologies.

"The telecommunications industry itself is uniquely well placed to provide valuable context to policy choices, and their impacts on this industry and its customers," he said at the time.

"It is for this reason that NBN Co welcomes and supports a study that is being considered by the Communications Alliance into the potential pros and cons of a range of policy and technology options and their future impact on the National Broadband Network."

In a blog post late on Friday, Turnbull said that the proposal was "bizarre" because Quigley made the announcement without obtaining permission from the Communications Alliance, which has not indicated whether it will go ahead with the study.

Turnbull said that the government had rejected calls for a study for years, but just months from an election, Quigley has called for a "hazily conceived and nebulous review on his terms and timing".

"This isn't policy on the run. It's policy chaos," he said.

Turnbull said that unless Quigley can explain why the Communications Alliance would be better suited to run the inquiry rather than the Productivity Commission or Infrastructure Australia, then the proposal was a "cheap stunt".

A spokesperson for the office of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the government had gone to tender for a fibre-to-the-node network but none of the proposals were considered value for money.

"Following advice from the Expert Panel and a number of government agencies, the Government decided to proceed with a future-proof fibre-to-the-home network," he said.

"Malcolm Turnbull’s idea is to build the broadband equivalent of a one-lane Sydney Harbour Bridge."

Quigley has suggested that the study could run for several months and be completed before the election. If the Communications Alliance was to take up the study, Quigley has admitted that self-interest could rule.

The group is made up of companies that provide very different technologies for broadband delivery, ranging from big companies like Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone, through to vendors such as Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent, and Huawei, as well as construction companies such as Thales and Crown Castle, and wireless vendors including NewSat and ViaSat. NBN Co would be "just one voice" in the discussion, Quigley said.

Topics: NBN, Government, Government AU, Australia


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • In other words, after four years of implementation

    Quigley now agrees that it would be a good idea to do a cost-benefit analysis of the NBN. Extraordinary!
    • You are just wrong

      "The government had gone to tender for a fibre-to-the-node network but none of the proposals were considered value for money." They took tenders for the fiber-to-the-node, and none of the bids were acceptable. They were high bids for a low value NBN. Now Malcolm Turnbull wants to make the NBN into a network that only the middle class and above can afford. No poor people will get the NBN if it costs $3000.
    • did you even read this???

      They are talking about a comparison of the two plans (FTTN of Malcolm Vs FTTP of NBNCo).

      As others have pointed out, it's not like FTTN wasn't considered originally, so I wouldn't expect the aspirations of Malcolm to do any better this time around...
    • CBA???

      Perhaps a lack of comprehension involved here?
      No mention of a CBA.
      Rather, Quigley's call invokes an intelligent study of the varying BB options by those qualified to supply relevant options. Most likely to expose Turnbull's constant barrage of FUD & bluster for what they are.
      No wonder he won't accept the offer.
      I note however that Turnbull puts his investment cash into overseas projects contrary to his anti FTTH claims. What a hypocrite!
  • NBN Back pedal

    Mr Quigley's back peddling only comes on the back of news that the national liberal party is likely to win and with broadband customers losing. Its called saving a deal and your ass since you'll decimate the project. Though it seems the Libs always have to extract maximum leverage with half truths and lies. Oh well, looks like if the Libs win, buy your Telstra shares like all the other Libs, hey Mr T? Oh you might want to pickup a few shares of certain media groups who are bank rolling the Labor carnage whilst you're at it, since they'll have less competition. The real story is, how you're going to screw regional development and force business to pay high rents in the city just so they can have access to infrastructure their taxes paid for ya wally! They certainly have you trained now Mr. Turnbull.
    Ball Buster
  • What annoys me the most

    Is the Coalition is supposed to support the country more than Labor but if the Coalition gets in the country will be stuck with slow Internet for a very long time.
    • You cannot run a country on one policy

      The Coalition does not have the best NBN policy, but that is only one policy . . .
      • "The Coalition does not have the best NBN policy"

        "The Coalition does not have the best NBN policy"

        Indeed...actually it doesn't even have "policy", it has aspirations of policy eventually, possibly after the election.
    • In other words

      you will be stuck with slower internet. Lets speak in relative terms here shall we. Coalition's broadband policy would result in faster speeds than what is currently available, but slower than what Labor's policy would give (and even that's not a given). The questions here are:

      1. Which is more beneficial?

      2. Which will be easier to upgrade in the future?
      Kunal Nanda
      • You are wrong.

        The Coalition's plan of fibre to the node will result in patchy coverage. Only people who pay
        the $3000 connection fee can have any faster speeds. Obviously poor Australians will not benefit, but rich Australians can take advantage of 100mbps.
      • Actually, your wrong there Kunal

        FTTN can give between 12 Mbps and 80 Mbps depending one a lot of different factors.

        The speed drops off a lot once your past 300 Mtrs from the cabinet as you can see here: http://nbnmyths.wordpress.com/why-not-fttn/.
      • Coalition's broadband policy

        Correction Kunal: Will result in faster speeds to the Node only. So how do you expect that to suddenly improve anything over the remaining 7K of neglected corroded copper to our street that for years now can barely supply audible phone calls in good weather?
        1/ Benefit = Nil.
        2/ Future upgrade ease:
        FTTP now...just swap equipment at each end.
        FTTN In a few years start over again from scratch after having wasted approx $25 Billion in a short-term high maintenance farce just to comply with Tony's directive to "Destroy The NBN."
  • LOL

    Turnbull is calling this "policy chaos", this is coming from a bunch of clowns that can't decide what they want, coming from a politician that constantly flip-flops all over the place himself. Wants to implement a substandard FttN patchwork with a mix of technologies all for the sake of using a mix of technologies. Not to mention his latest HFC brain fart. And still no details to show after all this time. Wow. I can see the coalition of clowns like to set the bar low when it comes to broadband but when it comes to policy chaos they do set it rather high... I think it's safe to say Quigley isn't in the same league here and Turnbull is just projecting again.
    Hubert Cumberdale
    • Still waiting

      • ...

        • Double or nothing RS? :-)
          Hubert Cumberdale
          • Ok

            It's a deal HC...LOL
      • You will never get a logical and cogent response form HC

        so don't bother holding your breath waiting.
        • Hey restricted access I've never seen you string together more than two sentences together here on Zdnet. I'm sure you like to think you are "logical and cogent" based on your meager input unfortunately actual logic suggests you aren't. Hope that helps.
          Hubert Cumberdale
        • I know that

          But it is mildly amusing to watch HC and his girl friend RS hold court. Maybe the cartoon thing was a bit deep for them to get.

          Still when you live at home feeding off your parents and have no responsibility in life it is easy to behave the way hooey does.

          I actually feel sorry for him as it is clear that he will max out as low level worker in a government IT section. Waiting until 4.50pm every day so he can rush to be the first to press the down button.