Turnbull says ex-ACCC chair is an NBN 'cheerleader'

Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has accused former ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel of being an out-of-touch cheerleader for the NBN.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that Australian taxpayers will pay for former ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel's cheerleading over the National Broadband Network (NBN).

As first reported by ZDNet, Samuel told the IPv6 Summit last week that switching the NBN roll-out from a fibre-to-the-premise (FttP) network to a fibre-to-the-node (FttN) network would cost "many times more" than the estimated AU$4.7 billion, and would result in thousands of street-corner nodes. He also expressed great scepticism about the viability of hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) networks in the long term.

"I think it is highly unlikely to be a longer-term competitive infrastructure to the NBN," he said. "What has happened with HFC is that more and more data is being pushed down, and at this point in time, it's suffering contention issues."

In a blog post published today, Turnbull fired back, saying that Samuel was a "cheerleader for the NBN" who was out of touch with the latest technologies available in FttN networks, which allow broadband to be deployed over both copper and fibre to premises.

"They are available from multiple vendors. Carriers around the world are increasingly offering fibre connectivity on a customer-by-customer basis where this makes economic sense," he said.

Turnbull indicated that his plan would see a "revision of contracts" already signed between Telstra and NBN Co to use part of the copper network from the node to the premise, and rejected Samuel's suggestion that this would add billions to the cost of the network.

"As far as Telstra is concerned, Mr Samuel's claim that a revision to the contracts to use part of the Telstra copper network will cost additional tens of billions of dollars is without any basis in fact," he said.

"Under Labor's NBN, Telstra is being paid to progressively shut its copper network so it has no commercial value. I have indicated that our policy will leave Telstra shareholders at least as well off in economic terms, and I am very confident a win-win outcome will be attainable if we are elected."

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