‘Unbalanced’: Turnbull hammers ABC again on NBN


news Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has again hit out at the reporting of the National Broadband Network debate by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, accusing the broadcaster of “superficial, misleading and unbalanced reporting” of the issue and detailing a litany of complaints about the ABC’s Lateline program specifically.

This week Lateline ran an extended segment on the NBN, firstly giving viewers an update on the project’s rollout as it currently stands and the differing opinions regarding Labor’s policy and the Coalition’s rival approach, which would focus on re-using infrastructure and deploying fibre to the node technology around Australia, rather than the fibre to the home infrastructure which Labor is deploying. The segment was followed by a live debate between Turnbull and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

However, in a follow-up article published on his website after the broadcast, and also published in brief in The Australian newspaper, Turnbull claimed the ABC had done a shoddy job of examining the issue.

“The National Broadband Network is a complicated issue. But that is no excuse for superficial, misleading or unbalanced reporting of it,” Turnbull wrote on his site. “Yet on Tuesday November 27 ABC’s Lateline ran a segment about the NBN ahead of a discussion between myself and Senator Conroy that was all of the above. Lateline missed the point of the debate over broadband policy, preferring to reinforce the Government’s false but seductively simple claim: Labor is ushering us into the digital future, while the Coalition is holding us back.”

Turnbull said the ABC should have been exploring three key questions. Firstly, he said, the broadcaster should have explored what the time and cost differences were between the rollout of Labor’s FTTH NBN model and the Coalition’s alternative FTTN model. “Which is faster and cheaper to build?” the Liberal MP asked. Secondly, Turnbull said the ABC should have examined what speeds the two competing technologies could deliver, and lastly, it should have examined what broadband speeds were required to deliver applications consumers wanted to use over their broadband connection and were prepared to pay for. However, Turnbull said, the ABC ignored these issues.

The Member for Wentworth additionally blasted the broadcaster for failing to use its international resources in countries such as the US and UK to investigate similar rollouts to Australia’s NBN in those countries.

“The Brits speak English and the ABC has an office in London so given the salience of this issue in the Australian debate it is hard to understand why the ABC hasn’t bothered to interview the folk at BT and report on their experience,” Turnbull said, referring to BT’s rollout in the UK, which focuses on using FTTN technology to upgrade its national copper network, as well as extending that FTTN network in some areas using FTTH.”

“Likewise, AT&T has used FTTN for its US wireline upgrade – passing 30 million households,” Turnbull said. “Verizon on the other hard did build an FTTP network, but has stopped expanding it because of the huge costs. An interesting and highly relevant contrast worth some journalistic investigation. Americans, too, speak English and the ABC has an office in Washington – so these facts wouldn’t be hard to find out.”

“And across the border in Canada, the cable company, Rogers, has expanded its HFC network (originally built to deliver pay television) so that it can deliver 100 mbps broadband as well as voice and TV. Thats pretty interesting given the regular assertions in the Australian technical media that HFC is out of date and fit only for the technology dustbin. They speak English in Canada too, so that might be a good place to check out.”

Turnbull also criticised the ABC for not interviewing industry leaders or experts supporting the Coalition’s case in its broadcast; and instead using commentators such as analyst Paul Budde, who broadly supports the NBN.

“Many areas of public policy are complex, and the media’s task of explaining them simply and clearly is not easy,” said Turnbull. “But that is no excuse for a lack of basic research and balance. And most puzzling of all, why does our national broadcaster, with its global network of reporters and bureaus, have so little curiosity in what other comparable countries are doing with their broadband upgrade programs.”

It’s not the first time that Turnbull has heavily criticised Australia’s media – especially the ABC – for what he believes is a lack of balance and fairness in the reporting of the NBN.

Last week, for example, Turnbull dismissed as “nonsense” claims published by the ABC by contracting companies deploying Labor’s National Broadband Network project that changing the project’s model to a fibre to the node rollout would be “an expensive, time-consuming hindrance”. And the week before, Turnbull similarly heavily criticised Australia’s technology media for what he described as its “cheerleader” approach to the NBN, saying the nation was “let down by the so-called technology media” as it did not examine local events closely enough with reference to the global telecommunications sector.

In July, ABC Technology & Games editor Nick Ross – who has taken a broadly positive stance towards the NBN in his articles on it — and Turnbull engaged in a very public argument on the subject of the NBN on social networking platform Twitter. “Your relentless NBN propaganda is an embarrassment to the ABC,” Turnbull told Ross. “Do you really work for the ABC or is it the NBN Co?”

In turn, Ross in particular highlighted what he said were weaknesses in the Coalitions’ NBN policy, especially its focus on using a fibre to the node-style of broadband rollout rather than the fibre to the home approach Labor is currently taking. “I work for the Australian public. You haven’t ever acknowledged health, [education], business, upload speed requirements for NBN,” Ross told Turnbull. “Am more than happy to meet up and discuss this. We seem to think the NBN is for very different purposes.”

“You can’t say these facts about the NBN without backing them up. I back up what I say more than anyone. If you can demonstrate what facts I have said that are wrong I’ll be mortified. But you need to justify your claims. I go the science route. The facts are all that matter here. Technology is blind to politics. I’ll show my working as usual.”

Turnbull has also been vocal over the past several weeks in criticising Australia’s technology press in general. Several weeks ago he said in a speech to the Innovation Bay startup networking organisation in Sydney that Australia’s technology press had a “cheerleader” approach to the NBN, adding that the nation was “let down by the so-called technology media” as it did not examine local events closely enough with reference to the global telecommunications sector.

Reading Turnbull’s comments today and over the past several weeks, I can;t help but get the feeling that the Shadow Communications Minister wants the media, particularly the ABC, to do his job for him. This is perhaps understandable for a politician who is himself a former journalist; but it doesn’t reflect the way the world works. If Turnbull wants to demonstrate that the Coalition’s FTTN policy is better than Labor’s FTTH policy, then he needs to do a better job of it himself; and then media coverage will reflect that.

I will take this opportunity to remind the Member for Wentworth that he has still not responded to a series of fundamental questions about the Coalition’s rival policy which Delimiter put to him some three months ago. These are the questions which Turnbull will currently not answer about the Coalition’s FTTN policy:

  • What international examples of FTTN-style broadband deployments do you consider most pertinent to the Australian situation, and why?
  • How long do you estimate it would take, if the Coalition wins the next Federal Election, to deploy FTTN to more than 90 percent of the Australian population?
  • What, specifically, do you estimate would be the cost difference between deploying FTTN and FTTH as part of the NBN rollout?
  • Do you consider it possible to re-work the current Telstra/NBN contract to focus on FTTN instead of FTTH, and how long do you estimate this would take?
  • What broad details of this contract would need to change, and how long do you anticipate the ACCC would take to approve a modified version?
  • Do you have a long-term plan to upgrade a FTTN-style network to a FTTH-style network, or a medium-term plan to allow ad-hoc upgrades of this network to FTTH?
  • What do you consider to be the time frame on which a FTTN-style network would continue to be used without an upgrade to FTTH? Will there, in fact, be a need to upgrade in the long-term to FTTH? On what evidence do you have these beliefs?
  • How would you address the claim that FTTN is a short to medium-term technology that will be superceded over the next several decades by FTTH, and that Australia should only be investing for the long-term when it comes to this kind of telecommunications infrastructure? On what evidence do you feel this way?

Pretty basic questions, aren’t they? Maybe when Turnbull does answer these questions, we can have a real debate and stop these complaints from the Member for Wentworth about a media which is more than willing to listen to anything Turnbull – with his sky-high public profile and electorate popularity – has to say.

Image credit: Screen cap of Turnbull and Pesce on ABC’s The Drum, believed to be fair use


  1. Interesting, He wants the cost of each looked at… A bit difficult to do when only one ‘side’ has published costings.

      • The concept of NBN, architecture and engineering came from the same people who brought us hair brained schemes of FANOC, TERRIA, mid-point pillar injection, and duplicated FTTN boxes everywhere solution. This scheme was to request carriers from all over the world to do a joint contribution and over build the telstra network.

        Now they’ve gone away and come back with another, lets weave all this fibre cable on top of the Telstra copper network, with a business scheme of high debt finance and internalisation into a single monolithic bureaucracy, and lets continually tender out the work like a wonky wash machine going through its cycles.

    • Not just the cost mate, he basically wants the ABC do the whole plan for him:

      “Turnbull said the ABC should have been exploring three key questions. Firstly, he said, the broadcaster should have explored what the time and cost differences were between the rollout of Labor’s FTTH NBN model and the Coalition’s alternative FTTN model. “Which is faster and cheaper to build?” the Liberal MP asked. ”

      How the hell would they know what the time and cost _differences_ would be? He hasn’t given any indication of how long his plan would take to implement, or even an estimation of it’s cost (beyond a baseline of $15B, but that doesn’t factor in the cost of getting Telstras copper which may go as high as $40B…). And don’t even get me started on how that $15B is a REAL non-recouped cost to Aussies, unlike the actual NBN.

      “Secondly, Turnbull said the ABC should have examined what speeds the two competing technologies could deliver”

      Ok, that ones easy, MT’s NBN would be 12Mbps-80Mbps depending on distance from the node and the line quality, the NBNCo one would be 100Mbps.

      ” and lastly, it should have examined what broadband speeds were required to deliver applications consumers wanted to use over their broadband connection and were prepared to pay for. However, Turnbull said, the ABC ignored these issues.”

      This of course depends on the situation, but it wouldn’t hurt the ABC to do a “three scenarios” type story, 1. an “average” family of four.
      2. a single person living alone.
      3. a group of, say, uni students living together.

      I’d suggest it would only be the single that would actually say speed/bandwidth doesn’t matter. My household of three has issues when we all get online (and thats at 50Mbps on HFC and you can easily see the line contention go up and kill off speeds when school gets out…). Once the NBN (the real one) gets here, I’ll be happy to pay for the top plan (and STLL pay less than the current HFC one I have).

      Quit QQing Malcolm and do some actual work for a change, you like to tell us all what an IT/Telecoms guru you are, not to mention your investment banker background (you know, the background that told you to invest in FttP for yourself) it should be simple for you to come up with actual answers rather than spin.

      • You should have done more research. Where are these supposed 80mbps plans. Never heard of such a thing. Most people on Telstra Cable get 110mbps vs 100mbps on the NBN where as only 50% of the people on NBN are getting 100mb.

        • rubbish, I’ve never seen a Bigpond Ultimate cable user get more than 50mbps real world speeds and in peak times it’s much much worse due to the extremely high contention ratios!

          • I call BS on this comment, while i do not beleive that HFC is a good technology to go forth and continue utilising into the future. I ,and a few mates who have all had bigpond ultimate cable in different areas (busy areas infact) have all had connections speeds of 50 mbps plus(busy hours or no), and one of us was in a university area, which you would think would be a more saturated area. Two mates had 90+ mbps , i had 70+.

            While im definately not going to argue that this technology is our future, and wouldnt argue that nowhere in australia is there contention on this network when on an ultimate plan(works different then cable elite). I would argue that it is far less prominent a problem then you make out, and your blanket statements help no-one, nor you argument.

          • Maybe the infrastructure in the eastern states is better, but my my experience is based on the 1/2 dozen or so folk I know in Adelaide on Bigpond Ultimate Cable.

          • Understandable, and i cant speak for states i dont live in of course.

            Also have to say that a max throughput on HFC of 110mbps compared with a max on FTTH of 100, ide take that 100 anytime. (directed to the comment above yours of course)

        • @not same

          You’re talking about peak throughput. I have seen several examples of both HFC and the NBN getting more than 100Mbps. However, the AVERAGE throughput on HFC is more like 60Mbps while on the NBN it physically coulfnt drop below 72Mbps (as that’s the minimum uncontended throughput on the GPON.

          I’d take 100Mbps on the NBN anyday over HFC because the contention ratios are sky high compared to the NBN. But you can keep your HFC if you like, no skin off other people’s noses.

  2. I believe my comment on his blog says enough. It’s quite comprehensive.

    Turnbull believes any who do not agree with him over FTTN are zealots and/or misleading.

    I’m thankful many other news outlets do their own research, as do I, to sek the truth, rather than someone’s version of it.

    • Turbill is just Miffed that the ABC wont fall into line with the Right-leaning comercial media outlets which have happily parroted the Coalitions favorite Mantra of “it’s a Labor policy and therefore the end of the world is nigh”.

      eg it’s cost every household $6,000 to rewire each house, it’ll cost 100billion dollars, we should spend the money on roads and hospitals (completely ignoring that they dont pay the money back), it’ll cost us all $200-$300 a month!!! and my favorite “let the market take care of it!” (when it’s proved unwilling and incapable)!

      MT, stop trying to treat us like idiots, we don’t want your shortsighted plan!

      • Typically, when they put out a figure eg. $43Bn, it usually costs about $80Bn by the end.
        But what I’m saying is that the end will never be reached at all.

        This is based on the fact that the people who came up with this scheme are the same who thought the Telstra monopoly could be broken by putting out a RFP to international consortiums to over build the Telstra network with a framework built on poor unworkable engineering practices.

        Not to say their experts would not push shonky engineering. The fact that NBN has gone this far is by pure luck, that it won Labor the last election because a couple of bumpkins held the balance of power and wanted better communications which Telstra would have been more than obliged to deny them after privatisation.

        So this retarded child is kept alive at a high price, and a retarded child will only grow up to be a retarded adult, not matter how much private school tutoring you give it, it will only cost more money, you just throw good money after bad.

  3. Someone tell me the last time Conroy got to write an article on the NBN and publish it in The Australian.

    • Don’t be silly!

      The Australian is there to tear down the Labor gov’t, not give it a means of communicating with the voters!

  4. “The Member for Wentworth additionally blasted the broadcaster for failing to use its international resources in countries such as the US and UK to investigate similar rollouts to Australia’s NBN in those countries.”

    The Member for Wentworth should perhaps spend less time bagging people for not giving his ‘plans’ reasonable airtime, and perhaps introduce his actual, competing ‘policy’.

    It’s the sort of response you might expect from a three-year-old, when it doesn’t get enough attention.

    Never mind that the ABC’s policies basically mean it has to present an effective 50/50 balance. Turnbull has had it easy, apart from a handful of presenters whom have a basic understanding, most have let his misleading statements and comments pass without comment.

    Most of the traditional press is banging the Liberal drum (so to speak); it’s not like his ‘plans’ haven’t had quite enough airtime already. Indeed, he’s basically free to challenge the NBN at every turn, again with little challenge in the traditional media.

    And the rare incidents that he is challenged on plans? Disaster! It’s unfair! Poppy-cock.

    Where’s the microfilm policy, Mike Malcolm?

    • Ugh. That was supposed to be Where’s the microfilm policy, Mike Malcolm?

      .. a nod to ‘Loaded Weapon’.

  5. “The National Broadband Network is a complicated issue. But that is no excuse for superficial, misleading or unbalanced reporting of it”

    Indeed Malcolm, you are for once 100% correct and I totally agree with you. Now if you could just put your personal and political bias aside and call out those that actually employ “superficial”, “misleading” and “unbalanced” reporting of the NBN then we could actually come to respect you. Also if you want to earn some bonus points put your alterntive plan on the table for all to see without the bullshit excuses AND start answering the questions without the usual weasel tactics.

    • Another +1 from me too!

      The shame of it is, I think the man is intelligent and experienced enough to actually come up with enough of his plan to be able to debate it, I can’t for the life of me understand why he doesn’t unless (puts on tinfoil hat) he himself doesn’t believe in it!

      No, wait, hear me out!

      According to Essential Research (and as reported by Bernard Keane in Crikey):

      “Just 18% of respondents thought the Coalition would repeal the national broadband network if elected, while more than half thought they probably wouldn’t. The Coalition has criticised the NBN and proposed replacing it with a less costly mix of technologies. Those polled have taken a shine to the NBN, with 69% in favour and 20% against.”.

      no this may be drawing a pretty long bow, but if the internal Liberal polling is saying something similar, then he may only be offering his alternate NBN plan to placate the more extreme Liberal voters (you know, the ones that listen to AJ). It’s not a reason for me to switch votes at the moment, but I do have some small hope that they may allow the NBNCo to carry on if they win…

  6. I find it interesting that I can not get to his web site at the moment to impress upon him to “answer the bloody questions man”.

    Is there a DOS going on???

  7. Does Turnbull really want a thorough analysis of relative cost and timelines?

    It costs a certain amount to run fibre to (almost) every home. It costs less to do that if you are NBNco and have economy of scale and can design it on a suburb by suburb basis. It costs more money to do that if the process involves piecemeal on-demand methods.

    If we build FTTN and then run fibre to (almost) every home, then the cost of FTTN is on top of the cost of the fibre build that follows.

    If we build FTTN and then extend fibre piecemeal then the ultimate cost can only increase.

    The only way FTTN can be cheaper is if we assume that we will never run fibre to (almost) every home. In other words that we permanently avoid building with fibre.

    Turnbull cannot be allowed to get away with his “cheaper” claim because anything he does that is not fibre simply adds to the final cost.

    How about sooner?

    Renai – it’d be lovely if you devoted an article to exploring the details but here is yet again, a summary.

    If Turnbull were to direct NBNco to redesign using FTTN then a delay of 2 to 3 years would result..

    No journalist, not the ABC, certainly not the Murdoch media, and even not yourself, have taken Turnbull to task over this obvious show-stopper.

    So much for sooner.

    How about the questions Turnbull really doesn’t want to hear..

    “Given that redesign will take years and be politically unfeasible, what are your real plans regarding NBNco?”

    “When you sell NBNco to Telstra, do you intend to repeat the same mistakes made in the Telstra Sale Act. Namely, weak regulation to maximize share price? How do you propose to avoid giving a private corporation a permanent FTTH monopoly?”

  8. Turnbulls hypocrisy is appalling. The “great” man won’t respond with anything approaching a fact or detail regarding his own policy yet blasts the ABC for not doing a thorough investigation. I can see how the interaction between an ABC reporter and Turnbull would go. Reporter: So Malcolm do you have any details or facts about your policy we could include in our show besides inane slogans like cheaper and faster. Malcolm: blah blah cheaper blah blah blah cheaper blah blah blah blah faster faster blah blah ……. Reporter so nothing really Malcolm thank you we will try and get our info somewhere else about YOUR policy.

    • You forgot: The Turnbull then blogging about how the reporter is “an NBN fanboy” and didn’t do his research.

      Research only works when there are actual facts to reveal.

      • I suspect the author of the current NBN solution of FTTP are those who did the original ludicrus NBN FTTN plan. What the first plan told me is that neither party has any solution to the problem, but Labor is more willing to submit and support bogan plans and waste public money to win votes.

          • Troll much?

            Good thing you weren’t around when the overland telegraph was being debated, you would have seen no reason to change from carrier pigeons!

  9. Turnbull’s 3 point plan is in reverse order. You don’t look at the cost of FTTN until you can already show that it’s a viable solution – you start with the LONG TERM needs and work out the solutions from that. Then you compare costs.

    The demand for speed is growing, and FTTN’s speed does not improve over time. It can’t even guarantee 25Mbps. As a LONG TERM solution (and a federal government must always think long term), it does not work.

    What Turnbull wants to do is go “look, FTTN has a lower build cost!” and then work backwards to try and justify building it. An engineer would call it a solution looking for a problem. I would call it stupid.

    As usual, his comparison to overseas *companies* is irrelevant because they are rolling it out for profit (and he’s also cherry picked companies which are doing FTTN…As a side note, Verizon didn’t cancel FiOS due to unexpected high costs, and he insults their intelligence by suggesting this; they rolled it out over about five years to millions of premises, more or less on budget.)

    If Turnbull actually cared about balanced/objective journalism, then he would also be complaining about articles which use exaggerated claims to criticise the NBN.

    • Maybe we should save on all government projects. Make all new buildings from cardboard because it’s cheaper. Build highways with one lane and widen them as demand increases. There are so many applications of Malcolm Turnbull logic.

      • > Build highways with one lane and widen them as demand increases.

        The Liberals sort of did that in Adelaide with the Southern Expressway, which will be the longest one way reversible freeway in the world until the current Labor government finish duplicating it in an astouding show of competence.

        • Its about the only show of competence the SA Labor government has done. But that doesn’t really matter, the other mob are worse.

    • With DSL, my house gets 0Mpbs (Yes, the copper is dead)

      With FTTN, my house would continue to get 0Mbps! :)

      Indeed, the only way FTTN could benefit me, is if they replaced the last 2Km of copper cable.. with.. OMG!.. copper?

      Hows that for economically rational? Or does he mean we get even more expensive hybrids of fibre/copper? Or do I get to be the lucky one where I can pay tens of thousands for “business class”?

      Sorry, the obvious show stopper aside (FTTN will require years of re-design and re-negotiation and re-regulation) it just blows your mind when you think about the real-life details of this insanity.

  10. I could have been rude and suggested that the reason Turnbull is pursuing this red herring (FTTN) is that what he really wants is to own shares in a renewed Telstra FTTH monopoly.

    • I can bet my bottom dollar that when NBN co is privatised (hopefully we get to that), MT and his Lib mates will be some of the first to buy shares big time.

    • “Tantrum” is definitely the word for what Malcolm has been coming out with recently. Tantrum because the naughty media isn’t talking up the Coalition’s NBN policy enough.

      • C’mon guys, it’s really not Malcolm’s fault…

        The thing is, the Coalition are used to mainstream media being their nodding dogs and lapping up their every word. It’s a given…

        So when ‘actual journalists’ like Nick and Renai weigh the “evidence” and say hang on, I call BS on you, this is how it is, the Coalition are “genuinely shocked”, because the media are there to do as they are told, not tell the truth.

    • That is a surprising article. Up until now Technology Spectator seemed to have been very supportive of Malcolm Turnbull’s b… err “plan”

    • From that article, this is a good point in comparing FTTN and FTTP:

      The speed difference, out of the box, is 80:1000Mbps at best, but for guaranteed rates 12-25:1000Mbps. That’s the difference between walking and a Ferrari. So essentially, for twice the upfront price and one-tenth the running costs, the FttH model delivers forty times the speed and better quality. Is that the bargain of the century or what?

      • Even worse if you compare the best-case upstream bandwidth… (“up to”) 20Mbps vs (exactly) 400Mbps!

        That’s a difference between walking and a jet plane or high-speed rail.

        It’s also a difference between a system focused on short-term capabilities for consumption and entertainment, as opposed to a system that will allow the same, but for a long term, plus also provide business grade services to 93% of premises in Australia.

  11. So how much longer can Turnbull continue to beat a dead horse?
    Some people on Whirlpool have suggested that the cost of FTTN NBN is 2/3 the cost of FTTH NBN when you exclude satellite and fixed wireless which would be kept with FTTN, if I understand things correctly. Assuming that is the case, it seems like cost of scrapping the FTTH NBN plan/implementation and developing and implementing a new FTTN NBN plan would result in the coalition’s plan costing more than FTTH and taking longer to complete. It seems like the ship has sailed or is about to sail on this issue and I think Mr. Turnbull might make better use of his time holding the government’s feet to the fire on issues related to actually building the NBN rather than wasting time calling for further study and the development of new plans.

    Also, I’ll point out that his example with Verizon is not straight-forward to compare with the Australian situation. In Australia, the NBN will have a near monopoly position in the market as a wholesale provider of broadband internet access. For a very large fraction of Australian homes, the NBN fiber optic cable going into a house will be the only way for a household to access wired broadband internet. In North America, Verizon is dealing with a far more fragmented market with a home potentially having 3 different methods of getting internet: co-ax from a cable provider like Comcast or Cox, ASDL/VSDL/etc. from the traditional phone line, and Verizon’s fiber optic cable. For low usage users, all three are equally good options. For higher usage users, coax from the cable provider is going to be very competitive for all but the heaviest users. It seems like it would be a very hard market to make money in as you are building new infrastructure which has to be paid off and you are competing with existing providers who’ve probably long since paid for their infrastructure and thus have a lot more margin to play with allowing them to compete more intensively on price.

    I’d need to read more about Rogers, but I think that’s a bit of a strange comparison. As far as I’m aware, there aren’t any plans for building FTTH in most parts of Canada, and individual cable companies have municipal monopolies on providing cable tv service to Canadian homes (e.g. one wired pay-tv service provider in each community; there are two satellite tv providers as well).

    • What it looks like is just a confirmation of what was discused and examined many years ago. When the NBN plan was FTTN they just found it was way better value to go straight to FTTH. How much more so now? 5 years on, FTTH is cheaper than it was and FTTN has lost another 5 years of any useful life it would have had.

    • “So how much longer can Turnbull continue to beat a dead horse?”

      Given how long the LNP have been flogging the whole AWU conspiracy, settle in for the long haul.

    • So how much longer can Turnbull continue to beat a dead horse?

      The L/NP has taken dead-horse abuse to heart; the beating of dead horses shall continue in earnest, until moral improves.

      If all you have left, is to complain about “balanced reporting” then really, you’ve already lost the game. The NBN is an election winner; Turnbull knows this and is simply trying to stack the deck in the L/NP favour.

      The irony, is the deck has been staked in L/NP favour, at least in the traditional media, for several years. That they’ve failed to capitalise (despite so many opportunities) and resort to calling-names and temper tantrums sums up how far the party has fallen.

  12. Does Malcolm reeaallllly want people asking hard questions about his second rate FTTN plan? Really? That wont end well for him.

    • Really, what is the point of asking him anything? It’s like he randomly selects one of 3 replys for anything he is asked.

      “Malcolm, what did you eat for lunch”
      In the UK FTTN is 1/3 to 1/4 the cost of FTTH
      “No, I asked what you had for lunch”
      The FTTN is proceeding at a snails pace.
      A figure of completed or in progress is completely meaningless.
      “So, nothing to say on your lunch?”
      Obviously you are some sort of comie loving NBN zealot.

  13. Don’t forget that where Verizon is replacing copper damaged by Hurricane Sandy, it’s replacing it with fibre, because it’s cheaper to install & easier to maintain…

    • Don’t forget

      it’s less a case of “don’t forget..” and more a case of “don’t tell anyone..”

    • While we’re discussing things in the “Lets not forget” category, the ex-CTO of British Telecom (you know, Malcolm poster child for how we should be doing it) is on record as saying them going FttN was, and I quote:

      “fibre to the node-style broadband is one of the biggest mistakes humanity has made, imposing huge bandwidth and unreliability problems on those who implement it”

      Renai reported on this (http://delimiter.com.au/2012/04/30/fttn-a-huge-mistake-says-ex-bt-cto/) back in April, we’ll before Malcolms QQing that Australian journalists should be covering the overseas FttN rollouts more…

  14. When it comes to a balance of opinion and the right to be heard, then the world and fantasy can open up and let fly with their rhetoric.
    When it comes to NEWS, then balance is fairly stupid as it means your asking for a lie, a probabability, along with proven fact and giving them all equal weight of correctness and they all must be heard. Lord have mercy on us all! Sorry, I do not see Flat Earth believers jumping up and down for their 5 minutes in the media everytime someone shows a picture from space of our planet. No one would give it to them as it is not factual, read correct. But if they can demand balance on the ABC, we have to give it to them if MT pushes that cart. See if he stops to listen to it in full everytime they rant. Betcha he doesn’t.
    It is saying Snake Oil is just as valid in curing people as is modern medicine. But it isn’t, but balance would demand you have to present it also as truth. NEWS is supposed to be fact. If you cannot prove it, it is opinion or a probability. Just because someone told you something does not make it fact.
    MT wouldn’t want to have to suffer the Communist Manifesto read out to all everytime he stood up and espoused the Market is better to do everything under the sun on the ABC. And that is with equal ferver for both.
    If that happens, I will switch off the idiot box completely, as Commercial TV is so banal here in Oz now.

  15. Could you please add to your questions we need answered.

    We need to know estimated consumer pricing for plans on his FTTN. If his network will cost 1/3 (supposedly) then will the monthly bills be 1/3 of NBN plans?

    Will those on HFC pay the same as a slower copper link?

    Will they be dependent on speed or just flat fees.

    If he is not going for uniform national pricing, how much will it cost to subsidise rural areas?

  16. Malcolm has lost it.

    Even in the best case scenario of his ‘solution’ costing only 1/4 of the price of Labor’s FTTP (unlikely), and generously assuming maximum download speeds of 80Mbps (unlikely for vast majority of customers), this is extremely poor value compared to 1000Mbps that is achievable on FTTP.

    Quite obvious which tech offers better value for money.

  17. Is there any subject on which the ABC’s reporting isn’t superficial, misleading and unbalanced? Not anything to do with politics. Its how the ABC does it. It decides which side its on, and completely ignores all views from the other side. It gives us the ALP view of domestic matters, and with the ALP in power and closely aligned with Obama, it gives us the American view of the world. If you want any other view you change to some other media outlet, because that’s all you get from the ABC. Its not something unique to the NBN. The ABC is not our ABC any longer. It belongs to the ALP and the ALP belongs to Washington.

    The ABC is just as incable of giving us unbioased reporting as the Murdoch media is. The ABC only presents one always ideology-driven view. News Ltd concedes there there are a range of views, but makes it clear which one is the right one. The right one.

    • You must be watching some other ABC than I am… :)

      In the last few years, ABC has been following the daily domestic agenda set by The Australian (the loss-making political manipulation tool of Mr Murdoch). On all matters political, they go out of their way to present a “balance” of opinions (even on topics where the “sides” in an argument are completely unbalanced from a rational, scientific or technological view.)

      Giving equal time and space to people holding informed, rational views, and to those with irrational, anti-science, anti-technology and anti-progress positions, is just nuts.

    • @Gordon

      The ABC is not our ABC any longer. It belongs to the ALP and the ALP belongs to Washington.

      Does that mean in Howard’s day it was “not our ABC, but the Coalition’s and Coalition belonged to Washington (Bush)?

      Its how the ABC does it. It decides which side its on, and completely ignores all views from the other side.

      Really? I was sure MediaWatch and The Drum did exactly the opposite on that actually….and I’m fairly sure they’re ABC programs…

      Sounds to me like you’re not an ABC fan. Shame, Dr Who is good…

      • It’s quite clear who he “is” a fan of though, like 99.99% of NBN detractors – (feel free to round :) *sigh*

    • Are you talking about the same ABC that jumped on the non-story about the AWU????

      It’s disgusting that the last few weeks sitting sessions of of the year for parliament were taken over by that rubbish, Labor _does_ have many questions to answer (National Disability Scheme, the Murray/Darling plan, the Gonski stuff on education, etc, etc, etc) and the bloody Liberals gave them a free pass because of Tony’s ego…

      The Liberals can’t even do “opposition” properly, let alone an NBN.

      • Then to be a complete hypocrit he said afterwards how disappointed he was about all the time spent on the AWU affair, he wanted to spend the time presenting Coalition policies. Yer right!

  18. When Turnbull is prepared to discuss openly and honestly the Coalition BB policy, and criticize the NBN without relying on half truths and selective use of data to pursue his case, then he might be taken seriously. Until then anything he says can’t be taken seriously.

  19. I think there is a mistake in the title of this very perceptive piece of journalism. Surely, the use of a colon is a mistake? Shouldn’t it be “‘Unbalanced Turnbull hammers ABC again on NBN”.

    Waaahhh, waahhhh, waaahhh……..just like the spoilt child he is!

  20. So when the media is just parroting the obvious and repeatedly (and easily) proven lies from the Coalition party line he’s all fine with it, but when a media outlet actually bothers to do some simple research and realises he’s full of it, he goes on the attack claiming “superficial, misleading and unbalanced reporting”…

    Personally, it sounds like he’s caught on that people are starting to wake up and think for themselves, and are realising that maybe, just maybe, he is genuinely spouting complete crap… Now he’s getting desperate and is trying to silence everyone that stands up to him… Sounds like the schoolyard bully to be honest…

  21. Of course its cheaper and faster to build 1/2 the NBN with fibre than it is to build ALL of it with fibre

    • There’s the rub right there, it’s isn’t necessarily.

      Some analysts have placed the cost of buying/renting the actual copper required could go as high as $40B, so add to that the cost of the Libs NBN ($15B) and Malcolms plan is $55B…and as he would sell off the NBNCo, thats the only cost recovery he has (the price he would get for the NBNCo).

      He needs to drop “cheaper” off his spiels/rants, it wont be “cheaper” for the Australian public.

  22. Anytime we have the NBN under a microscope we are not looking at the coalitions alternate, whatever it should, could or might be.

    • Well when they come up with a good solution, let us know. We will all love look at the Coalitions solution to the problem, (created by a monumental stuff up by them) under a microscope also.
      But we are looking at a dog (ADSL is a dog as is FTTN), are you suggesting we should call it a electric cat and believe it to be better because someone tells us it is? Sorry, its a dog.I know what a dog is and what it can and can’t do.
      If one is entertained by calling it an electric cat and believes it better, well knock your socks off and be happy.,But if we look at you kindley, but strangely, well know we care for your wellbeing, including happiness. Now consider ours and don’t damage the NBN. We won’t even make you use it. There is a place for everyone after all.

  23. THe next time the ABC reports on a bushfire, it should busy itself manning the hoses.

  24. Renai,

    You can’t seriously expect Turnbull to take your questions seriously when there are typically no less than three opinion pieces a week preaching to the NBN-at-any-cost chearleading squad.

    • JT. Just what alternative is there?, the Nation needs a massive upgrade in the National essential utility otherwise called our communications infrastructure, no one else is going to do it Nationwide without truly massive subsidies and incentives courtesy the taxpayer.

      Glib phrases are meaningless to any intelligent person without parameters such as cost, time frame, what service will actually be available and very importantly will it address the Nations Needs for how many years, is there any plan to upgrade the National communications platform in the future as the need arises, how will that be achieved, who will do that and who will pay for it, will it like the copper network be an egalitarian platform

      If the Coalition wish to be taken seriously by thinking adults who actually bother to research issues they better pull their socks up

  25. Turnball has put his money into FTTP, but says different. MONEY TALKS, BULLSHIT WALKS.
    Current infrastructure has be failing for at the very least the last 10 years, its also the main reason that the Liberals were so quick in selling Telstra.
    As they knew then that it would take BILLIONS to replace it.

  26. I think its sad the member for Wentworth is gradually sinking into irrelevance.

    • To be honest, Renai’s questions left too much room for Malcolm to not actually answer the questions. The questions should have been shorter and more to the point. Questions like those given by seven_tech in the comments:
      – What will the estimated TOTAL CAPEX be?
      – What will the estimated TOTAL OPEX be?
      – What will the estimated wholesale price be?
      – How long, IN A INTEGER OF YEARS, will it take?
      – WHO will be covered?
      Blunt, yet focused.

      • @Harimau

        Cheers. I don’t expect any real answers of course. Not now nor before the election. They’re likely to just say ‘don’t have access to contracts, it’ll be cheaper and we’ll calculate it as soon as we get it’ etc. ad infinitum.

        But hey, we can always hope…

    • My response on his blog:

      Malcolm Said: “But so Delimiter will have something else to write about – here are his questions and some very brief answers.”

      I’d suggest they are more “responses” than “answers”, but I thank you for the attempt at least.

      Some actual debate about the facts of your system would be welcomed I think, even if some of those facts are still to be worked out (for example, how much do you think Telstra will charge to access their copper, or to put it another way, how much are you willing to pay them to access their “last/golden mile”?).

      How’s your investment in the French FttP roll-out going by the way? ;o)

  27. the coalition reckons they can build it quicker and cheaper and then it’ll probably end up being like everything else….. outdated in 5 years . do it ftth now and you don’t have to worry about it for another 50 years.

    why do fttn now with 12mbs? then have to upgrade the whole thing to get 25, then upgrade again. yes ftth is more expensive but in my eyes worth the investment. especially to help bring everyone into parity. I live in Adelaide, Telstra forgot about use when it rolled out cable. so we have piss poor speeds. give us fibre and we could compete with other states. and $10 says that turnbull gets fibre past his house before he rolls out fttn.

    • “and $10 says that turnbull gets fibre past his house before he rolls out fttn.”

      What makes you think he doesn’t have fibre already?

      Considering he had $186 million in 2010 and “friends in the industry”, I doubt he’s using dial up or DoDo ADSL :o)

      • I agree Tinman…

        But I think the point Brian was making is, whilst preaching FttN to the masses, MT not only has FttP investments overseas, but will/does insist on FttP for himself (opinion I have no evidence).

        I guess that’s because, according to MT’s trusty followers, unlike MT, us plebs and our faster p0rn aren’t important *sigh*

  28. The Earth is flat! Anyone that disagrees and reports otherwise is superficial, misleading and unbalanced in their reporting! /sarcasm

    Seems he enjoys when the media picks apart other plans… but when his is under the microscope its more of a “Don’t look, unless you are going to say nice things”

  29. FTTN (liberal)
    – 1/3 the cost
    – fiber not to your homes, but installed directly to the old/failing copper network
    – huge cabinets parked in many streets
    – 12mb per second (if copper holds up)
    – no bandwidth advantage (copper last mile)
    – 5 years will need to be upgraded
    – how much will it cost to remove boxes in streets and updgrade in 5 years, if can?
    – how much will it cost to maintain the old copper network?
    – when it rains, when the copper ages even more will you even have a connection?

    FTTH (labor)
    – 37billion, yes it costs money to build things.
    – fiber to your house
    – 100mb per second now ( 10 times that or more in the future, 1TB already possible)
    – huge bandwidth, means many in your house can use the net no problems with no real slow down
    – speed of light connection to your home
    – no need for any major upgrades
    – no huge cabinets
    – no connecting last mile of fiber to the ancient/failing copper network
    – no connection drop outs or slow downs when it rains or the copper network fails
    – done right the first time.
    – 50 years +

    • I dispute that Malcolms plan IS actually cheaper, I think he is being misled by those “foreign” examples he keeps using (where it’s an incumbent telco that actually owns the copper to the premises that they can reuse for “free”).

      The actual fibre part of Malcolms system will be ~$15B, _but_ the cost of Telstras “Golden Mile” (the part of the copper network that runs to the house, and it’s called the “Golden Mile” because thats actually the important part of the system) could cost as much as $40B.

      $55B isn’t cheaper than $37B.

  30. I don’t think Mr Turnbull really wants us to look at FTTN in the US. It’s augurs badly for him.

    From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uverse

    “In 3rd quarter of 2012 AT&T President John Stankey announced that U-Verse (FTTN) deployment was ‘virtually over'”.

    AT&T also contemplate selling off their rural landlines that don’t have U-Verse (FTTN).

    In short, after just a 5year rollout period, FTTN in the US has come to a standstill. They simply cherry-picked the market and ignored the rest (regional and rural, natch).

    Exactly which part of this FTTN rollout does Mr Turnbull admire?

    The part that it's dead? The part that it was mostly just a competitive overbuild? Or the part that regional and rural have been ignored in spite an abused Federal subsidy model that Mr Turnbull also espouses?

    • +1 MakrD…

      Sadly, whether something works or not is of no importance to politicians.

      What is important is ideology… and the **current** Coalition (for all the good points they may also have) just can’t allow a government owned network to proceed, with them being of the more conservatively dry persuasion!


      • There is a fundamental difference between private enterprise and state run, Where as people in more remote locations and or of lower numbers of customers in a given area, Versus the ability to make a profit for providing a service. Wether it be a road, a railway line, phone and internet service, schools, hospitals, medicare etc etc, These are all basic services that all Australians should be able to access.
        The NBN needs to remain state owned so that these vital socialistic standards that we have always enjoyed in Australia will continue.
        When honest Johnny sold Telstra, It all went pear shaped and turned into just another money hungry bully that cared more for the shareholders than the customers, and so the fees and charges went up and up and up all the while announcing that they had just made huge profits in the millions and millions of dollars, and in the back ground was honest Johnny still plugging his usual rant of private enterprise is better for customers because it promotes better competition, good in theory except that now a bully had control of the Australian phone network! So much for competition? This should never be allowed to happen again, There are certain basic public services that should always remain state owned.
        Now as for the NBN rollout, When the great snowy scheme was instigated, did any one say it could be cheaper if we skimped on the concrete and only made the walls of the dam half as thick, Or what if we only went half way across Australia with the indian Pacific railway and you had to catch a bus for the rest of the way, Hell no if you are going to do something right, Then you have to do it right the first time!

  31. Misleading and superficial are the first words that come to mind when I think of Turnbull’s ‘policy’. As Rena said, the ball is in Malcolm’s court, and he keeps fumbling, and his criticisms are the equivalent of him whingeing to the referee.

  32. Turnbull says, “it is hard to understand why the ABC hasn’t bothered to interview the folk at BT”

    Renee suggests, “I can;t help but get the feeling that the Shadow Communications Minister wants the media, particularly the ABC, to do his job for him”

    It makes me start to wonder if Turnbull wants the media to “ask the hard questions”, so that the answer which would actually then come from BT and the other overseas operators is that, it is in fact cheaper, faster and better to do it today by fibre FTTP than by copper FTTN. He’s not allowed to reach that conclusion himself since he’s shackled by his Master. So he’s hoping the media will force the coalition to reach that view by strength of reason.

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