Communications Minister Stephen Conroy's speech attacking the Coalition Party's broadband policy in the National Press Club yesterday was rude, vulgar and lacking in evidence, according to Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Yesterday, the communications minister delivered a strong rebuff to the proposed alternatives to the National Broadband Network (NBN) that have been outlined by Turnbull since August. Conroy criticised Turnbull's plans for rolling out fibre to the node (FTTN) across the country, saying that billions of dollars would be wasted in new technology, and that ultimately the speeds seen on the technology internationally were not possible in Australia because they relied on bonded pairs, which were not available here.
In response, Turnbull said that fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) networks like the NBN cost between three and four times as much as FTTN.
"This was confirmed when I met with BT on 5 October. The UK's largest carrier advised that the cost of FTTH was around three times more than FTTN and that their FTTN/VDSL roll-out would deliver 80Mbps [megabits per second] download and 20Mbps upload in 2012."
Turnbull acknowledged that the speeds would vary based on the length of the copper loop, but did not specifically address Conroy's claim about bonded copper pairs.
He added that Conroy's claims about hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) being unsuitable for the nation's future broadband needs were unfounded.
"He dismisses HFC as a broadband technology, even though in every other market where there are HFC networks, they are being used to deliver high-speed broadband. Indeed in Australia, Telstra is upgrading its HFC network to run at 100 megabits per second," he said.
According to Turnbull, Conroy's speech failed to address his concerns brought up last week surrounding the project including the financial impact of delays in the roll-out and the lack of transparency shown by NBN Co and its deals with Telstra and Optus.
Turnbull said that taxpayers had already invested $1.7 billion in the NBN, which had so far only resulted in improved broadband for 2000 households.
"In return, there is little to show for it other than a new government-funded monopolist throwing its weight around and imposing prices on retail service providers," he said.
"When will Senator Conroy stop the personal abuse, engage with the facts, observe that his policy is out of step with that of every other advanced country in the world, and admit Labor's NBN is unaffordable and an utter failure?"