Turnbull slams Conroy's 'new online BFF' over NBN claims

Turnbull slams Conroy's 'new online BFF' over NBN claims

Summary: A website that shot to popularity this week comparing NBN policies has been slammed by the Opposition as spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt.


A website that purports to compare the speeds available on Labor's NBN and the Coalition's alternative has been branded as a "farrago of FUD" by Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

(Image: Screenshot by Josh Taylor/ZDNet)

The "How Fast is the NBN" website was launched by Brisbane PhD student and self-proclaimed Liberal voter James Brotchie this week, and has already been shared over 37,000 times on Facebook, over 4,000 times on Twitter, and over 1,000 times on Facebook, according to the site's published statistics.

The website aims to provide a simple comparison of what is achievable over Labor's fibre-to–the-premises (FttP) NBN, and the Coalition's fibre to the node proposal, using the highest speed tier of Labor's NBN at 1Gbps down and 400Mbps up, and the minimum guaranteed download speed on the Coalition's proposal at 25Mbps down, with an estimated 5Mbps up.

It provides a number of example scenarios for downloading episodes of Game of Thrones, uploading videos or photos, and syncing files in Dropbox.

The site had been heavily promoted across social media by the public, as well as by Labor politicians, including by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and Prime Minister Julia Gillard. But just a day after launch, Turnbull has slammed the site as promoting fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about the Coalition's alternative policy in a lengthy blog post.

Turnbull said that Conroy's "new online BFF" had created a website aimed at misleading the public, and that 25Mbps was the minimum download speed the Coalition's NBN would guarantee by 2016, while conversely, the 1Gbps plan was the highest tier NBN plan and would not be available for "almost a year".

Turnbull has previously outlined that the 25Mbps would be the minimum speed available for all premises in Australia by 2016, with a move to go up to 50Mbps by 2019. In a debate with Conroy hosted by ZDNet earlier this week, Turnbull said that more nodes would be deployed for premises that could not easily achieve 25Mbps download speeds because they were too far from the node. NBN Co also just recently announced 1Gbps plans to be launched by the end of the year.

In his blog post, Turnbull also said that the Coalition's NBN would be able to accommodate upgrades if the demand is there for higher tiered speeds down the track, and rejected the suggestion that the fibre-to-the-premises network had no power or maintenance requirements, as the fibre-to-the-node network would.

Turnbull also called out the fact that a 1Gbps connection would not come cheap, the wholesale price for a service is put at AU$150 per month, without taking into account the connectivity virtual circuit (CVC) charge that ISPs would be charged to provide capacity to that service.

According to NBN Co's corporate plan, the wholesale price would start out at AU$150 per month, but would decline to approximately AU$100 as the average speeds being taken up on the NBN increases over time.

He said that this was no different to suggesting that those who want to pay for fibre to the premises should be prepared to pay for it, as Turnbull has said would be part of the Coalition's policy.

"Price discrimination is an efficient way of making capital-intensive infrastructure viable. But when the Coalition makes the completely unremarkable claim that these high-end users might want to front load costs via a 'fibre on demand' product — and avoid imposing deployment costs on everyone else in the community who doesn't need fibre yet — we are told we are creating a digital divide."

The shadow minister also suggested that the site was misleading on the actual real-world speeds users would get on the NBN.

"Download and upload rates depend on many factors — line speed between the premises and exchange, line speed and contention further up in the network, the server at the other end of the transaction — and is always limited by the slowest link along the overall path from point A to point B."

In a fiery retort to "NBN's fans" who he said were proud to have not read his policy, Turnbull said that it was "Colbertesque", in reference to parody right wing TV host Stephen Colbert. He said that the Coalition's argument over the NBN came down to two factors: Time and money.

"Our concern with near-universal FttP is that it is costing far too much and taking far too long. If people don't care about the money, think of the time. The NBN Co will struggle to meet 15 percent of its June 30 rollout target, and be around 2 percent finished at that date," he said.

"The 2 million or so premises that couldn't watch a YouTube video in 2007 still can't. We should be focused on giving priority to people who may otherwise wait 10 or more years for any broadband, not on the selfish (but no doubt inestimable) joy and thrill of being able to download movies in seconds."

Topic: 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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  • Did Turnbull miss the fact

    The site was made by a "self-proclaimed Liberal voter". Trouble with aging pollies (mind you Abbots about my age) is they don't really understand technology, they never studied it and only started using it because they had too.

    Me, I might be 51 but I bought my first PC a TRS-80 in 1979 so have been watching and using tech ever since. The Coalition's NBN is a stop gap solution, I'm not now or will I tell people how to vote, but if you MUST vote for the coalition tell them we don't want no second rate Broadband.

    For those who think the NBN is being ran badly, fine, point out ways to correct the problem rather than putting Australian and participially the country areas behind the rest of the world. One good example of how Australia is behind is High Speed Rail, I think we must be the only large Western country in the World with out HSR, and still we have Pollies trying to keep Australia back. Such a shame we can't get pollies with vision rather then penny pincher's. 8-(
  • Exactly Malcolm...

    "He [Malcolm Turnbull] said that the Coalition's argument over the NBN came down to two factors: Time and money."

    That's my exact problem with YOUR plan Malcolm, your belief in your powers of negotiation does not make Telstra an easy partner to deal with, they have proven time and again that they are hard bargainers and very tough to deal with.

    Your "Because they will" and your "We are very confident we can access their copper without any additional charge." are worth nothing unless you have already spoken with Telstra and have an undertaking from them, because you will be asking for more from Telstra than the current NBNCo deal covers (like the unused/unwanted copper under the current deal, which with your plan is critical, and HFC access, not non-completion clauses for Internet access).

    You've complained that Australia suffers a ''deficit of trust' with it's politicians, but only politicians such as yourself can correct that.
    • Just to reiterate the point


      You are putting forward an argument that spending a certain amount less is justified. The problem is the risks attached to your plan are not adequately quantified and to many sensible minds those risks could see your plan costing the same or more than what is currently underway.

      First big risk = Telstra negotiations. Your excuses are patronising in the extreme, especially given your rants about expecting higher standards from politicians.

      Second big risk = quality of the asset you are looking to buy / take over. Many experts say the information to reliably quantify the quality of the Telstra copper network just isn't there and to commit to it as you are just doesn't account for the risk.

      The third big risk is also to do with time and money. When all is said and done what will the FTTN network be worth as an asset compared with the FTTP network? Based on revenues in either case we are talking about a privatised company being worth $200-300 Billion in 15 years time. Will the FTTP asset be worth exactly the same as FTTN? I suspect at those values we will see a much larger difference than the $14B difference you say is unjustified expenditure now.

      Fourth big risk = opportunity cost. A ubiquitous, high speed network will do more to foster innovation and productivity and will contribute more to our national growth. How much more is hard to quantify but every trend that can be measured, in every area of human development is suggesting that access to faster communications will be of benefit.

      You say time and money. I really don't think you know what you are talking about.
  • The Pot's Calling the Kettle Black

    This article cites Mr Turnbull as having "slammed the site as promoting fear, uncertainty, and doubt". Ignoring the fact that the site is actually providing benchmarks, this is precisely what the Coalition has been peddling for the last 4 years so why would Mr Turnbull complain about receiving the same treatment as Mr Abbott and his shock jock cronies have been dealing out? I've said for a long time that Tony Abbott's greatest legacy will be the toxic climate of smear, innuendo and falsehoods that he's shovelled out and he'll eventually complain about it. Sadly, Malcolm is the first victim of Abbott's childishness.
  • How fast is the NBN, isn't FUD!

    The site does a reasonable estimate of upload times and the site may actually be showing figures that make Mal's FTTN look better than it will perform.
    Malcolm is only "currently offering service standard for downloads to 25Mbs", he's refusing to commit to anything in regard to upload, saying it's up to ISP's to provide "more asynchronous services" what ever that may mean.
    The author of this column was at the debate where Malcolm was still not committing to any upload standard.

    The "asynchronous" means the service is optimised for high download speed and to get the high download speed the upload speed in much lower in most ISP's systems Mal's 25Mbs download would require 2.5Mbs upload.

    Many years ago I had a "synchronous" .5Mbs Upload and .5Mbs download but in the end I had to cancel because the download was just too slow.

    This site reasonably accurately shows what a first term Turnbull system may deliver in optimal circumstances, if anything the site's a little generous.

    Turnbull seems to think new inventions and innovative ISP's will plug the gaps some time after his first term ends in 2016, he has not offered any service standards after 2016 just propositions of VDSL's.

    For Turnbull to claim that this site is "FUD" he needs to provide the service standard policy that tells us;
    1)What upload service standards will be.
    2) The time of introduction of these standards.
    3) The rectification protocol if the standards are not met.
    Kevin Cobley
  • Turnbull seems rather defensive about the 25mbps thing. One would think since they've told us 25mbps is more than enough for everyone not much else would need to be said... apparently not.
    Hubert Cumberdale
    • Irrelevant

      As usual.

      If only you could find something to do with your time that was constructive.

      Try Lego.
      • And...

        ...that was?

        I'd suggest HC's comment was infinitley more relevant than your usual drivel...

        Grow up fool.
      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klG9G4BDLtA
        Hubert Cumberdale
  • All bluff and bluster

    Geez, Turnbull really does know how to spit the dummy, doesn't he?

    But then this is always the case with bullies. They can never take it - just dish it out!

    As my dear old mum would have said, 'he's like a fart in a colander - doesn't know which hole to escape from'. All bluff and bluster, and no substance.....
  • $150.00 expensive?

    Well Mr Turnbull, I will gladly pay $150.00 Pm for those speeds with out hesitation!! I currently pay $125 for 16gb 3g wireless that, on a good day, would get me about 1Mbps, all because I'm one of those people who live in a small town that does not have any adsl, despite the fact that Telstra has terminated fibre in our small exchange, talk about torture.
  • Not exactly an apples with apples comparison

    As crikey.com points out, it compares Labour's higher speed with the Coalition's lowest speed. The Coalition plot does include HFC (100 Mb/s) and FTTP (1 Gb/s) where the copper is no good. The Labour plan includes radio and satellite services running as low as 12 Mb/s.

    I'm not saying one plan is better than the other, just that the comparison is biased.
    • Well

      The HFC is 100/2 or if lucky 100/5 designed for Pay TV , can also do consumer Broadband and is not part of the NBN, but is owned by Telstra and News Ltd (FOXTEL), the FTTP is in greenfields, wet areas, business precincts where rents are high, health (major), education - most tertiary are already on AARNET, and where the current NBN will have installed. 22% = 70% on FTTN. So the issue is about upload. AVERAGE speeds from FTTN will be approx 45 Mb , however "Guaranteed" Speed is 25Mb. "Guaranteed" Current speed for the FTTP NBN is 100Mb, to be 1Gb by years end. So on that "Guaranteed" basis the comparison is valid

      The constant Coalition drivel is over Video, Note the latest News Ltd. results - the $2.5Bill profit is from German and Australian Pay TV, most specifically Sport, it subsidises the loss making other Murdoch media. In Australia it is an effective Monopoly, The FTTP NBN is a major threat to that Monopoly and therefore that Monopoly profit. Competition is to be suppressed at all costs regardless of damage to the Nation and the economy over the long term
      Abel Adamski
      • Bias is bias

        What you say may be true, but it does not make the comparison the article covers any less biased. If we reverse the bias and compare the Coalition's best speed with Labour's worst, we get Coalition 1000/400 Mb/s vs Labour's 12/1 Mb/s. This comparison is no more or less valid.

        The FUD is flying from both sides of the debate in equal quantities.
        • Indeed...

          I have been arguing against anti-NBN FUD from day 1. Not from a political perspective but from a perspective of believing the NBN to be the right avenue for all Aussies.

          But, my main gripe is FUD and being so you do have a point BRC. FUD is FUD regardless of who's claiming it... To a degree anyway.

          Whereas comparing fastest with slowest is a bit rich either way, the difference of course being that 93% of Australians would have the fastest FttP NBN speeds available to them, whereas, only a small portion of those, in green fields, or whose copper is cactus or who are willing to pay for their own connections, will have such FttP speeds, via the CBN (Coalition Broadband Network). So the majority would have a maximum of 100Mbps (iirc).

          And let's face it, if you are paying for your own FttP connection, why should those figures be included in the CBN stats anyway?

          As such we should imo, be comparing what would be the maximum speed, which the majority of Aussies could receive, by the time each network would be completed. Therefore NBN 1Gbps vs CBN 100Mbps (to be honest I'm not sure of the quoted upload speeds)...

          Of course let's not forget that FttP is capable of much greater than 1Gbps too, but 1 has been announced... so going by the info we have at hand, I'd suggest the above is about right.

          By eliminating FUD from both sides, I believe it shows the NBN is still the obvious winner.
          • To be fair...

            FttN may also be capable of greater speeds than 100Mbps too...?

            But of course, nowhere near FttP or even the quoted 1Gbps which will be available to some by the end of this year (iirc), which was my point.

        • Ture but..

          That is true, however even if you were to compare both at promised max speeds the liberal NBN would still look trivial in comparison.

          For where i live i dont see us getting any more than 25/5 (The min.) our exchange/lines are falling apart as it is.
    • Not that biased

      Seeing as it's showing the most commonly available fastest speed of both plans (up to 2018-2019, when Malcolm will raise the base to 50Mbps to the 73% that will be on FTTN).

      Are you suggesting that they should have only shown edge cases?
  • Poor Malcom - Pot Meet Kettle

    For the last two years Malcolm you have don't everything in your power to undermine the NBN with misleading half truth, fear and uncertainty. Thoroughly enjoying this moment in time. However if LNP does win the election you will have to live with your decisions. Malcolm Turnbull ~ "The man who destroyed the NBN."
  • It's a lemon!

    The issue is that Malcolm was a supporter of the New Zealand FTTN until it was changed to FTTH, then he goes on to compare with the BT Rollout (which is Fibre to the Curb - run shorter copper) system.

    Under the BT system supports upto 76Mbps, while the current Turnbull Broadband plan only supports 25Mbps, that's 3x less the speed that the BT FTTC can do.

    He then claims that he will increase the speed to 50Mbps by Vectoring after 2016.

    But, what he forgets is that the higher the frequency, the higher the attenuation, this means shorter distances.

    Systems like the G.Fast, Vectoring, Bonding can only do short distances (most can only do about 400m from the node).

    Bash the website all you want Malcolm, but it is pretty good at defining your flaws at the current system.

    The fact that you stated 25mbps and no upload speed stated, means you don't have great deal of faith anyway.