I’m no FTTN “zealot”, says Malcolm Turnbull


blog This morning’s Financial Review (where else?) has published a spanking new lengthy profile of Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Among other things, the Liberal MP addresses his reputation amongst ‘NBN backers’, who, he believes, are treating him a little unfairly. The Financial Review quotes Turnbull (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“They try to paint me as a zealot, when in reality I am so unzealous on technology it is not funny; I am totally agnostic and in favour of whatever works. Whatever works and whatever is most cost-effective is what I want to pursue.”

We can’t help but find this a little ironic, considering that it was only last week that Turnbull himself was accusing certain technology journalists (ahem) of being NBN ‘zealots’ themselves and whipping up pro-NBN fervour “among tech-savvy citizens who wanted the ultimate broadband regardless of more feasible alternatives”. Seems like what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander? A quick message for Mr Turnbull: Anyone can throw the ‘zealot’ word around. But what takes a great deal more courage is to publish the rival NBN policy you’ve painstakingly developed behind closed doors, or even answer basic questions about it. Now that would be pragmatic … or perhaps we’re being a little too ‘zealous’ in our quest for the truth?

Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull


  1. I especially like this sentence: “But what takes a great deal more courage is to publish the rival NBN policy you’ve painstakingly developed behind closed doors, or even answer basic questions about it.”

  2. Not a zealot? That’s very odd. Seems he had us all fooled.

    I like this part though:

    “I am totally agnostic and in favour of whatever works”

    But then he goes on to suggest FttN again. That’s weird. Is Turnbull confused or is he a just a garden variety FttN zealot? Interesting.

    • He’s not a FTTN zealot, he supports a whole range of technologies. He likes FTTN, FTTC, FTTB, FTTCab, ADSL2, VDSL2, VDSL, ADSL…. all of the technologies because he’s technology agnostic.

      • He also supports FTTP, he has investments in France FTTP, he also running the launches for OptiComm in greenfield estates (one of the companies involved that didn’t like NBNCo entering the greenfield estates).

        • Just that in general, he doesn’t support the rest of Australia getting FTTP – only to the select few.

    • No Silly, the quote missed a few words:

      “I am totally agnostic and in favour of whatever works ”

      • Hmmm…..brackets removed!

        Try again: “I am totally agnostic and in favour of whatever works” (to win the next election).

        Ahh….never mind.

    • Oh and FTTH as long as you connect to the NTU via some sort of copper connection. Cat5, Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6a, Cat7… all of these methods can be described as FTTN, clearly.

    • I don’t think he is a zealot for any technology. The whole goal seems more based on spending the least to get into government and not much else.

      • I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – that, in a nutshell, is the difference between the Liberals and Labor. One spends, the other consolidates. Both approaches are appropriate at various times.

        At some point though, you need to spend money to move forwards, something the Liberals refuse to concede in any way, shape, or form. This is one of those times.

        Even the amount they want to invest in comms is mostly to encourage others to do the dirty work. Ignoring on or off budget accounting of the costs for each, the simple fact there is no asset to show for it through the Liberals ideas just emphasises their desire to avoid as much risk as possible, a key party policy for them.

  3. Malcom Turnbull was also at an opening of OptiComm Network at Gippsland.

    Malcom was also complaining about NBN.

    Malcolm Turnbull ‏@TurnbullMalcolm

    With @opticommoz director David Spence @jacksonsview – David and I worked together with Sean Howard at Ozemail pic.twitter.com/xIhEaPf4
    View photo


    5h Malcolm Turnbull Malcolm Turnbull ‏@TurnbullMalcolm

    @JacksonsView great outcome with Opticomm here – half the cost of NBN FTTP and use Aus designed MSAN with more functionality than NBN’s
    View conversation


    5h Jackson’s View Jackson’s View ‏@JacksonsView

    Launching Gippsland’s high speed broadband: Paul Cross @Opticommoz, @TurnbullMalcolm, David Spence & Russell Broadbent pic.twitter.com/0dFFWd9E
    Retweeted by Malcolm Turnbull
    View photo


    27 Aug Jackson’s View Jackson’s View ‏@JacksonsView

    We are triple checking everything before officially launching high speed broadband in to Gippsland tomorrow with @TurnbullMalcolm!
    Retweeted by Malcolm Turnbull

    • ‘@JacksonsView great outcome with Opticomm here – half the cost of NBN FTTP and use Aus designed MSAN with more functionality than NBN’s
      View conversation’

      This tweet and the article about it really annoys me actually. It states their system is ‘capable of things the NBN isn’t, like TV, EFTPOS and WiFi Hotspots….’

      That’s a load of old dog balls. The NBN is just about to switch on multicasting, EFTPOS is a business product they’ll likely release alongside or close to phone/fax emulation and the NBN is more than capable of as many WiFi hotspots as you like….they’ve just got nothing to do with providing them!

      Bloody fibre installers are just trying to bag the NBN because it limits their profit potential. All 6 of them, compared to the 23 million people in Australia who’ll benefit from it.

      • 7T
        Don’t forget in the initial drafting of the NBN model, a TV capability was proposed, but knocked back by the TV industry, So the multicast instead.

        • It’s just grandstanding for the opportunity Abel. But it annoys me that companies choose to follow the Coalition and spread FUD on the NBN.

          You know, in 10 years, if we HAVEN’T got the NBN….guess who’ll be the first people complaining? Business.

          • I know I won’t be waiting 10 years to issue my complaints. If the Coalition gets up, I’ll be ranting on day 1: “Wheres my faster, cheaper, better broadband?!”

            Whereupon I’ll be told “Malcolm’s flying pig ran off with it”.

      • 7T
        “Bloody fibre installers are just trying to bag the NBN because it limits their profit potential. All 6 of them”

        I had previously asked the question of who would replace Quigley and any of the NBN team who leave with a change in direction of the NBN.
        Maybe that answers the question, an OptiCom reverse takeover of the NBN?

        Look after your mates?

      • Opticom supports RF overlay allowing the transmission of non-IP data (even analog data if you want it), such as a direct drop in of existing HFC cable-TV products, rather than a redesign and move to multicast IPTV which is what NBN requires.

        Generally, taking most advantage of existing technology gives you a faster and cheaper jump into each next generation (which is why we still use i386 compatible instruction sets after all these years).

        • So Opticomm essentially has to handle the antenna feed for FTA TV. Which means if the antenna goes down (they may get a direct feed, but they’d have to handle that too), or a RF splitter fails, a bunch of residents lose TV signal, which they’d have either via their own antenna otherwise or via their internet connection which is much less prone to interference and failure.

          I’m all for using legacy technology when we can to save cost and time….but that just seems pointless when you can either have a) your own antenna which is dirt cheap, customisable and easy to replace in the event of a failure (and only you lose signal) or b) have a reliable, fast fibre broadband connection to get channels piped over. The only reason they CAN’T do the second is the FTA stations declined NBNCo’s offer to broadcast over the NBN. It is perfectly capable of doing so without interfering with your internet.

          • It seems that these estates have a no antenna policy. Are people getting so fussy they cannot stand to see a TV aerial? Is this 21st century OCD? Do they also arrange their socks by colour?

    • LOL, so he is advocating FttH yet again and saying how the private sector can do it faster. If I asked Turnbull when does he estimate OptiComm will rollout fibre to the rest of Victoria under his “plan” will he:

      A) Give a rough estimate that has fibre installed in these premises years before NBNco’s completion date
      B) Suggest FttN for these regions instead.

      One minute it’s “oh look FttH is great and these people are getting it before NBN come” and the next it’s “oh look FttN is fine”. So much uncertainty with their plan. I’m not going to risk it and trust them when they’ve been this deceitful and I know I’ll get fibre eventually with the proper NBN plan.

      Your idiocy has been exposed Turnbull.

      • No, he is pointing out that a competitive private market DID actually deliver faster and cheaper in greenfields than what a government created entity has actually been able to deliver.

        This is a data point already on the board. Real measurement of a real situation.

        • Do you have evidence of what it costs NBNCo. to do Greenfields? That is the only relevant comparison. Don’t forget the infrastructure too.

          • NBN Co don’t do greenfields as a rule. Primarily the developer of the estates build the infrastructure to NBN Co standards, with NBN Co the “contractor of last resort” if the developer doesn’t want to do it themselves.

          • @Michael Wyres

            Yeah, I get that. Ironically, exactly like what’s happening in Mango Hill Turnbull was rabbiting on about. It wasn’t NBNCo’s fault the developer had chosen to NOT opt for a 3rd party and just let NBNCo. put the fibre in, having to fit them in around other Greenfields in the area. But apparently he thinks it is.

            I was really asking because Tel has no proof NBNCo. fibre costs $3000 per household in Greenfields compared to Opticomm’s supposed $1500.

        • “No, he is pointing out that a competitive private market DID actually deliver faster and cheaper in greenfields”

          What Turnbull is implying is clear. If he wants to use costings that are applicable to the whole NBN build then I see no reason not to apply his Opticomm greenfields logic to brownfields either. So why we are on the subject Telly can you explain why the private market has been so “successful” in greenfields while they’ve failed dismally in rolling out FttH in brownfields? There are two answers and they are both correct. 10 points for each. Go.

          “Real measurement of a real situation.”

          Thanks. I’ll keep this sentence in mind.

          • It’s a good sentence. Worthy of being recycled at the appropriate time in the future.

    • The other things that irritate me about this is simply
      a) The Greenfield developers install in a site where the developer has installed ducting and pits, they are empty. There are no issues with permits, traffic control, premises access. Clean cheap simple install.
      b) OptiCom does not have the expense of the major National back room infrastructure and back-haul and transit networks.
      c) Opticomm and the other Fibre install companies have had a decade to provide for the blackspot and underserviced areas. In brownfields with all the issues that the NBN faces. Too Hard and too Expensive

      I note a shift in presentation by the AFR and ch9 amongst others , now just a subtle undermine the NBN and pro Malcolm, too easy to destroy their arguments otherwise

  4. I actually believe this. He’s not a FttN Zealot he’s a Money Zealot.
    Executives like him need some seriously earth moving Money related reasons to change their minds once they have their path decided on.

  5. It’s true he’s technology agnostic…I mean it’s the same guy who not that long ago was saying “Australians broadband is currently good enough and don’t need to spend money on it…then changed to “wireless is everything..look at my iPad! We’ll build towers everywhere” and when that Lib policy was ridiculed he’s now switched to FTTN.

    I think people give him too much credit for being a tech literate minister…yes he’s better than most but his involvement in Ozemail doesn’t make him a broadband Internet expert…he was, is and always be a business man….one that now must also spruick the party politics above and beyond any personal feelings he has on the technology

  6. My Concern is Malcolm’s obvious close buddy relationship with vested interests, and his approach would appear to be one that would benefit them rather the Nation and business and the consumer. ??
    I Know there is a life after Politics, but the focus now should be on what is best for the Nation in the Long Term

  7. There is but one solution.

    Malcolm releases the fully costed Coalition alternative policy so we can see all technology outcomes, all of the cost outcomes – (both short term and long term) – and we finally truly compare the two policies.

    Until he does, he’s just blowing wind.

    And he knows it.

      • Yes.

        So he needs to show some courage, and put up or shut up.

        If his plan is so damn wonderful, he should have no fear about letting people examine it.

        If he (continues) to refuse, then it is clear he is playing politics, rather than honest debate.


  8. The current NBN works. The current NBN provides a 7% return, which seems pretty “cost effective”.

    If Turnbull was being honest, then based on this criteria, he would support the project. Instead, he calls supporters zealots and claims his policy is better without releasing any detailed documents.

  9. These days I see the fin imprimatur on anything at all, let alone the Wenty wabbits rants, and I place in the do not read basket by default…

  10. Turnbull need answer to no one except god and the voting public. While he’s successfully got pro-nbn’ers pegged as minority zealots, that means only god might be interested.

    God’s already seen Turnbulls plan (maybe just blank paper with a pretty cover) and hasn’t seen fit to strike him down for limited vision driven by a voting cycle.

    Turnbull’s got zilch to worry about until Hockey keels over. (Surely Hockey is higher on the strike list)

  11. “They try to paint me as a zealot”

    No, your blind devotion to your conservative ideology does that without any help!

  12. OF COURSE he isn’t an FTTN zealot.

    Just an ABBN zealot.

    (‘Anything But Bloody NBN’)

  13. Malcom says
    ““If fibre to the node can deliver more than adequate broadband for the vast majority of people, at a quarter of the cost, and take a third as long to do, then you would be nuts not to do it. That is the bottom line.”
    And who is to decide who gets what ?

    So what about the ones that want/need FTTP ? if 50% of my street are happy with FTTN and the other 50% Want FTTP how does he think that will happen ?
    Is he going to hold referenda in every suburb to see what people want ?

    And it wont be quicker by the time they “have an enquiry”, , do a “business case” do planning do tenders etc I would be surprised if there was a Nationwide NBN before 2025 at the earliest.

  14. OK
    What will be the access at the premises, a copper pair, or two copper pairs or a RJ45 socket.?
    Will we have to provide whatever modem is required at what cost .?
    If a substantial percentage refuse to pay for a VDSL modem in an area and insist on staying with ADSL2+ through their existing modem, and others want the higher speeds, how will that impact on the implementation of VDSL?

    Remember 80% chose better than ADSL2+, so 1 in 5 are happy with ADSL2+, how will that impact on the provision of higher capacity VDSL considering the requirement for all pairs to be bonded off the one VDSL card. Apart from whether their are adequate numbers of suitable pairs.

    Ifd we are stuck with the Play School version it’s gonna be fun watching the show and bagging the disaster as it unfolds, quoting all those media commentators and editorials back at them

    • @Abel

      Good article. Covers most of the points that aren’t being covered by the MSM. Turnbull is all about the hit and run on the NBN….

    • Point for consideration
      The Opticom estate is just that , pert of the Opticom network, they are responsible for maintenance, connection to the isps, (their own POI’s, BOS and network capacity and transit networks)
      As not built to NBN specs,from pits and ducts up, rathe built better , faster and cheaper. The NBN would be foolish to take it over or buy the site. Opticoms network , their issues. Same applies to the other private sector builds.
      As built for 1/2 the price and a better design should be 1/2 the price for the customers also, lets see’
      I remember Mark A’s whinges about his crappy 30/1.5 FTTH service?

      So Malcolm has his infrastructure competition and “competing Networks?. Rhough NBN will not overbuild, so ONLY choice is OPTICOM infrastructure with all that entails

  15. Who gives a flying fuck if it takes a few years longer? Internet is imperative to our success as a country for the entire foreseeable future. OH no, labor will spend what ever it takes and it might be 2021 until its done.

    Are you kidding me? Why is this bad!?!

    Please Australia, I am begging you, do not listen to these fools. We are NOT building a house here without a budget or time scope. We are building a NATIONAL NETWORK it is important, and doing it half arsed is dangerously foolish.

    The opposition is only trying to get into power by opposing, its their job. I hope Australia makes the correct educated choice.

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