Turnbull plan 'economic vandalism': Conroy

Turnbull plan 'economic vandalism': Conroy

Summary: Conroy has declared Malcolm Turnbull an "economic vandal", and said that his broadband policy based on the New Zealand fibre model would be the equivalent of building the Sydney Harbour Bridge with only one lane.


Conroy has declared Malcolm Turnbull an "economic vandal", and said that his broadband policy based on the New Zealand fibre model would be the equivalent of building the Sydney Harbour Bridge with only one lane.

At a doorstop following his speech at an Australian Information Industry Association lunch in Sydney yesterday, Conroy lashed out at Turbull's plan to hand off existing NBN infrastructure to private companies that would offer wholesale services to other telcos. According to Conroy, Turnbull must promise to the 500,000 users expected to be on the NBN by the time of the next election that prices won't go up for them.

"Will he promise those 500,000 users there will be no increase in price because of his economic vandalism that he has engaged in on the National Broadband Network?" he asked.

Turnbull's proposal of a $10 billion upgrade of Optus and Telstra hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) networks and the deployment of a fibre to the node (FttN) network similar to the New Zealand Ultra-Fast Broadband plan would not deliver higher speeds, Conroy said.

"You cannot deliver those speeds on a single copper to the home. The vast majority of copper to the home in Australia is a single copper; Malcolm wants to lock us into a 13[Mbps] world," he said. "We won't even bother talking about upload speeds. He's trying to pretend they're the same but he's not acknowledging that the technology that you need for the type of speeds he is claiming doesn't exist in Australia."

Conroy also said that convincing Telstra to grant access to its copper network would be costly.

"There are billions of dollars of compensation that will be required to allow access to Telstra's copper network," he said. "He's got to explain what money he's going to be paying Telstra on top of the network."

Under the deals that the government and NBN Co negotiated with Telstra and Optus, both telcos will decommission their HFC networks and migrate customers onto the NBN. Turnbull has proposed extending these networks in urban areas, but Conroy said that he doubted the two telcos would be keen to make them wholesale.

"I'm looking forward to him negotiating with Telstra and Optus to make it an open-access network. Let's be very clear: the HFC network has failed to deliver competition because they're closed networks. If Malcolm can convince them to open it up so everybody can provide on HFC, you might get some retail competition."

Even if the networks were opened up, Conroy said that the most that users could hope for would be speeds of 100Mbps down and 2Mbps up, although Turnbull spoke of 240Mbs/12Mbps speeds.

"He wants to lock us into speeds that will not be sufficient for the applications that are here today and will be used in the future," Conroy said.

"His network is the equivalent of building the Sydney Harbour Bridge with one lane."

The minister branded Turnbull's claim that Labor's fibre, wireless and satellite mix resembled the defunct OPEL plan as ridiculous.

"It was a dodgy D technology that was not compatible or upgradeable. The OPEL network was a dog that had no spectrum. It couldn't propagate more than 1.2 kilometres from the tower," he said. "It was a dog that got put down."

DIDO no NBN threat

Conroy said that he had been reading many "geeky" sites over the weekend in regards to the white paper published by US entrepreneur Steve Pearlman that claims that his distributed in, distributed out (DIDO) wireless broadband technology can support many users simultaneously without sacrificing data speeds. Pearlman estimates that he will be able to get speeds of up to 1000 times those available on wireless today. Conroy said that this didn't pose any threat to the "future-proof" status of the NBN's fibre.

"I hope that this wireless breakthrough is developed, because wireless and fibre to the home are complementary — people will want both," he said. "Fibre is the backbone of all wireless networks ... so suggestions that we should do nothing, because in 10 years time they might invent something that is warp-speed broadband over wireless, [is] a ludicrous situation."

Topics: Government, Broadband, Government AU, NBN


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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  • who do you believe? Conroy, who struggles to understand how the internet even works or Turnbull, a man who used to run one of Australia's largest ISPs.
    • Conroy or Turnbull?

      Good question. Both are retards and liars. Both are clueless about the internet but only one (Turnbull) "used to run one of Australia's largest ISPs" and yet he still remains clueless. I'd say this gives Conroy the edge in this case.
      Hubert Cumberdale
  • Frankly, I really don't care if Conroy knows his TCP from his SMTP - he has shown a first-rate political skill for getting things to happen, and that's his real job. And I think he understands the concepts and potential of the internet plenty well enough to argue his case effectively.

    I think the real problem is that because Turnbull did once oversee an ISP back in the internet Stone Age, he honestly thinks he understands the future broadband needs of the country far better than he does.

    It's a bit like saying "I know all about the latest operating systems because I used to write whizzy little programs in BASIC about 25 years ago." Seriously. Out. Of. Date.
  • Hey, Leave the poor Conservatives err "Liberals" alone. How can a Political party that can't even get its name right ( they should consult a dictionary) make a rational decision on an important subject as communications. Anyway its obvious Mr Turnbull is wearing a rather large set of Blinkers, put in place by Tony Abbott. Talk about the blind leading the blind. By the time the Broadband is in place and doing its job the "Libs" as we fondly call them may actually begin to see the light. You know the stuff that shines out of optical fibres.
    JOKE " how many "Libs" does it take to change a light bulb?" Answer. "We'll never know, they still all use oil lamps and candles".
  • Ah Ron123 your broken left wing is showing. Surely you must know (even you) that the Gillard government is seriously "on the nose" and Conroy is one of the biggest smells. Think back to the NSW state election and that will give you some sort of picture of the next federal election. Conroy wants Turnbull to "guarantee" this:

    "Will he promise those 500,000 users there will be no increase in price because of his economic vandalism that he has engaged in on the National Broadband Network?"

    A couple of very optimistic assumptions. One is that even if this diabolical government survives until the next scheduled election in 2013 there will in fact be 500,000 users connected. At current rates of progress more likely to be less than 100,000. And, two, the likelihood of an early election increases every day that passes. Within a couple of weeks of parliament resuming Julia will have a gigantic s**tfight with her green allies over either the Malaysian solution, the MRRT or the carbon tax (or all three) and then have another stoush with Willkie over pokie reform. Oh dear we really are only one heart attack away from an election. Bring it on I say....
    • This is the biggest load of rubbish I have ever read. You may want to pay attention a little more closely to how the government is actually doing. The government has negotiated with the Greens and over the carbon tax and the Greens have said they will support it. The minority government has passed more legislation than most majority governments. I would say that this is democracy at its best. Are you seriously suggesting that you would like to see a member of parliment have a heart attack?? That's real clever. You mindless tool...
    • Oh Brian you are "right [sic]"... extreme, far right...!
  • Hmm!! I distinctly remember the "Lib" pundits promising that the current Govt wouldnt last 12 months. Oh well we all make mistakes.
    I think if the "Libs" (Love that term "Libs" perfect example of an oxymoron.) dont dump "Rabid Abbott" Gillards Govt will have many more 12 months. Interesting numbers above. Only goes to show how short sighted "Lib" voters are. Can't seem to visulize beyond tomorrow mornings breakfast.
    As an example here in WA. It took 2 Labour Govts to build perths electric rail system. with the local "Libs" howling about the disaster it would be on both occasions. No one would use it. The current "Lib" govt here is now scrambling to urgently increase the carrying capacity of the system to relieve over crowding after defering to do so last year. So much for that disaster they had predicted. The "Libs" most notable talent seems to be in crying "Wolf" all the time. Shame they cant devote more time building public Ifrastructure rather than selling it off to their business mates.
    • Absolutely true. Didn't know about the recent WA situation and the rail system, but no surprise there. I lived over there when the Joondalup line was still a pipe dream!

      As I've said elsewhere, Turnbull's speech, however elegantly phrased, boiled down to the following plan: To Do As Little As Possible.

      How dare you, Australia, for trying to be a world leader in something, other than sport! And (worst of all possible disgraces) telling us that we shouldn't try to go one better than New Zealand! The outrage!
  • Talk about the pot calling the kettle black !. That worm Conroy and the party he represents do not give a toss about enconomic vandalism unless they can get some politicla capital out of it. They knowingly decimated the Greenfields FttH industry, an industry with over 400000 customers and leading the world on FttH, casually dismissing it as "collateral damage" (and after leading them on for months). Difficult to explain that to the people now without jobs, communities losing out on the services of people who were voluntering and so forth. And what is their centerpiece - attract school leavers to menial trench digging jobs for the next 10 years and thne dump them on the economy with no other skills. Look out for that labour bubble.

    Read the notes to Turnbulls speach - they are detailed, factual and very convincing.
    • "blah blah blah politicla capital blah blah blah Greenfields blah blah blah 400000 customers blah blah blah without jobs, communities losing blah blah blah people who were voluntering blah blah blah very convincing."

      It's only very convincing to those easily fooled.
      Hubert Cumberdale
  • You would think some of these "Lib" voters and Politicians with their superior educational qualifications gained at their exclusive private schools would be able to grasp the big picture. Unfortunatly it seems that the learning is more about style rather than substance as is obvious to any one reading a bit of Australian political history. The facts speak for them selves. Look at which party has given Australia some of its bigest and best assets. eg Snowy mountain scheme, Deregulation of Australian dollar to name two. To give John Howard his due, I did support the introduction of the GST. Only way to get the wealhy to pay at least a bit of tax.
    Getting back to The Broadband issue,
    Hands up all the Lib voters who want one of Tony Abbots huge Wireless broad band towers in their back yards. There are going to be lots and lots of them if he gets his way. "What!! no takers". Sorry Mr Abbott no one wants one.