Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has labelled the idea that the next generation of consumer services could only be delivered over fibre-optic cable “nonsense” and “absolute tripe”, in a fiery interview in which he highlighted the strengths of rival wireless technologies.
Just yesterday, NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley expressed his frustration with what he described as the “futile” ongoing debate about whether wireless technologies would make the mainly fibre-based National Broadband Network obsolete, arguing that both fixed and wireless technologies would be needed in the nation’s future and that they were complementary.
However, asked about the issue tonight on the ABC’s Lateline show, Turnbull said the idea of his rival, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, that only fibre could supply Australia’s next generation needs was “nonsense, absolute tripe”.
Turnbull said he was “baffled” as to why Conroy had a “fixation with fibre to the home”, arguing that the Government’s broadband policy should be “completely technology agnostic”. “You do it over a variety of platforms,” he said. “This one size fits all approach that the Government is taking is reckless.”
The former Liberal Leader’s comments came as the debate over fixed versus wireless broadband has recently been stoked by Telstra’s revelation that it would shortly be upgrading its flagship Next G mobile network to the Long-Term Evolution standard — which has the potential to dramatically boost the speeds available to end users.
Turnbull said there was no doubt wireless “will be a significant competitor to the NBN … significantly more competitive with the NBN than the NBN’s management thinks”.
The Liberal stalwart used one of the globe’s most-hyped technology companies to make his case that wireless was key to the nation’s future — claiming that iPhone and Mac manufacturer Apple, “probably the leading technology company in this area in the world”, was pulling in three times as much revenue from its wireless-based products as it was from its wired ones. Turnbull himself has been a frequent user of Apple’s iPad device for some time — and recently ditched his BlackBerry in favour of an iPhone.
However, Turnbull did acknowledge at one point that wireless and wired technologies were complementary. “Yes, they do overlap,” he said. “A lot of people use both.”
“But a lot of people use wireless only.”
Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull