in the hot seat: The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP & The Hon. Senator Stephen Conroy

The Communications Debate

Minister Stephen Conroy and Shadow Minister Malcolm Turnbull responded to the three most voted for questions from this forum May 6, 2013 in a Google + Hangout. Watch the fiery debate on the NBN and media ownership. Thanks to our project partners ZDNet, Commander and Alcatel-Lucent who have helped let you set the communications agenda.


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The transfer of information quadruples every decade. To rely on archaic copper technology, that needs replacing, maintaining and powering, is paramount to maintain Australia's infrastructure and future development. Malcolm and the LNP represent private business, and hence their policies and NBN plans reflect the antiquated, outdated, systems private busnesses and corporations would try to install - minimizsng costs and trying to maximise profits, at the expense of every Australian. Under the LNP there where no major infrastructure projects! Private businesses never want to invest in large scale infrastructure, they just bribe governments to sell it off to them cheaply so they can run them into the ground, sell them of at below market value, or drain taxpayers money. Wake up! How about a little forethought and critical thinking!
Nick Chugg · 1 year ago
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Great...here we have the "filter the internet" guy trying to sells us the NBN for 60 billion dollars so once all the internet traffic is on the NBN he can than "filter the internet"!!! and all I hear is people arguing about whether they can get 1.5Mbps or 55Mbps or whatever!!! by the way the Swedes are testing mobile internet at 500Mbps and a Japanese internet service provider has begun offering broadband plans with 2Gbps downloads and 1Gbps uploads. Save our tax payer money and build better hospitals and leave the internet to private business. 30% of all web traffic is porn, other 30% is copyrighted material that is illegally downloaded and I am suppose to pay for this, wake up people!!!!
Z1ON666 . · 1 year ago
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All I'll say to this is provide links to back up your statements.
Phillip Faggotter · 11 months ago
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Sorry Malcolm I'm just not buying it. Old copper wires that need ongoing maintenance, slow upload speeds, obsolete technology. Stephen Conroy won the debate. Fibre to the home infrastructure will be an asset, just don't let the LNP sell it off.
Alex Baker · 1 year ago
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Time to debunk and review: 1. 25Mbits as a minimum... as with the current, ADSL service speed will depend on: - Current state of the line - Distance from the node What happens if you're over 400 meters from the node... gotta go to another node? Sounds like an incredible waste of money to me. Fibre's been around since the 1970's and has been designed to be a superior medium since then (i.e. not encumbered by distance, EMI or degradation). 2. British telecom started the upgrades to their system much earlier and it was a more viable solution then as mass producing fibre was a bit of risky business. Check out this link to see more about why FTTN is a mistake: http://delimiter.com.au/2012/04/30/fttn-a-huge-mistake-says-ex-bt-cto/ 3. Labors delivered nothing?... Between 2003 - 2007 what did the liberal government have to offer for broadband users? nothing... zip, zero, nada, they had tenders, policy drafts, meetings, failings that they blamed on the ACCC. So they wasted money doing all this analysis, here's the kicker. When labor got a majority vote and decided to put the statistics gathered to use they were worth NOTHING. This is why between 2007-09 the original Rudd NBN plan was made redundant as it was rendered obsolete. They were using old statistics collected and assumed by the liberal government and to keep up with demand they realised it would not hold. As such the policy had to be redone from scratch in 2010 actual work commenced, so in the 3 years that labor had the seat and did things right from the start they managed to achieve more then in the 5 years that liberal had the opportunity. 4. If the labour friendly labor party is having issues with subcontractor delays (due to money pyramiding by contractor companies) how will the conservative libs deal with the same problem? true you wont have to roll out as much fibre... You'll just have to test every connection, perhaps replace 1/2, maintain some more every year, charge more per customer in data rates to payback the bond and run an inferior service while still charging users to even upgrade to fibre in the first place. 5. On the subject of testing the connection how will that be accomplished? will it be a test to a local server? one overseas? what about latency/access time will it matter? Or will it be as long as the page loads it doesnt matter? What will constitute a reasonable upgrade?
Matthew Rath · 1 year ago
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I am sorry Malcolm. I have a lot of respect for you but with your party's policy you look like you are representing a guilty client. Future proof is the way.
Paul Fogo · 1 year ago
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Mr Turnbull I like the idea of delaying an unnecessary investment if that is at all possible but I have read all of your documents carefully and on page 15 your background paper you write "The cost of FTTN upgraded to FTTP after 10 years of operation measured in today's dollars is $2,963 per premise, whilst FTTP up front measured on the same basis costs $4,003. And in the footnote you support the suggestion in the quoted report FTTN + FTTP (later) can be done for 109% of FTTP alone. A 9% premium seems a very low penalty given there will be 60,000 street cabinets requiring power and batteries. You have already agreed that if NBN can show that they can deliver FTTP for less than $4,000 per premise you will drive fibre deeper into the network raising your 22% FTTP estimate higher. Engineers tell me they would not be surprised at the cost per premise falling substantially after a year or two because it always does on a major infrastructure project. Put these two things together there does seem to be a very sound case for moving a bit closer to the NBN current model. You are at a major disadvantage in not having access to the NBN detailed information if you are elected in September and you do find that after consulting the best industry experts in the country and you find there is a case to move FTTP to say 50% or 75% would you commit to doing what makes the most economic sense or will you force the NBN down the pre election policy because that is what you have taken to the people?
Russell Yardley · 1 year ago
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Mr Turnbull is a most plausible and accomplished businessman and politician however on this topic he is struggling to sell weak logic and a short sighted policy. He insults the intelligence of the people who take the time to listen to this style of debate by looking for cheap political points rather than provide objective argument. A seemingly good man that has lost the plot. Using the arguments and demographics of other countries is nothing more than a smoke screen. Mr Conroy on the other hand, on this topic, is on strong ground and avoided the snideness and sniping of political debaters with weak arguments by simply stating the facts. We already have ADSL2+ widely spread throughout the populated areas of the country, even on the coast here in northern NSW. He is not offering any more than a large portion of the population already have on offer - even though most people don't take advantage of it - probably because they really want something better and are prepared to wait for NBN. Various providers state 25mbs but Telstra won't guarantee their service above 20mbs. Telstra has to do more than just upgrade their copper from the node, they also have to reinstate pro-active maintenance which is something that they gave up many years ago. This is in addition to rollout costs and continues way into the future - and is a hidden cost that is either understated or overlooked. Telco systems should be organic and upgraded all the time but the facts are that they are not, and they are only planned on short term budgets to suit contracted CEO's and politicians who want to be re-elected. Economic rationalists as championed by Mr Turnbull are renowned for not providing for the future, which is the real job of Government and there is no place for running a country as if it is a business returning relatively short term profit to shareholders.
David Edwards · 1 year ago
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Instead of "He is not offering any more than a large portion of the population already have on offer" this meant to read as "Turnbull is not offering any more than a large portion of the population already have on offer"
David Edwards · 1 year ago
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Dear Mr Turnbull and Senator Conroy, There are approximately 13.5 million subscribers to fixed telephone lines in Australia today. They NBN has been given a wholesale monopoly of high speed broadband. Each of these subscribers will pay NBNCO a minimum of $27.00 per month if they adopt the NBN. It is not a long shot to assume 80% uptake as the rollout reaches completion and Fibre to the Premises speeds attain 1GB download. Indeed at least 40% of these people may opt for the faster speeds at higher price increments. This will conservatively bring in $6 billion per year. This should mean a profit of $5 billion per annum. Within 8 years the cost of the initial rollout would be covered at this conservation level. Senator Conroy, your plan currently restricts FTTP to larger towns and densely populated urban areas anyone outside 0.5 km of a town gets the inferior fixed radio or satellite product. There is enough money to cover a majority of low density population areas, why are you allowing the "too expensive" argument to prevail at a time when money is historically extremely cheap and the income from the NBN will start producing an embarrassment of riches within 10 years? Explain how creating a digital divide between small towns, people living 0.5 km outside the high density locations and urban dwellers is for the common good, affordable or politically clever. Mr Turnbull, an investment banker, you can do very simple arithmetic, why are you deceiving the population with your ridiculous economics argument, while ignoring the benefits of the NBN and the obsolete state of the regional copper network?
Marc Percival · 1 year ago
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Dear Mr Turnbull: I live in a city (bunbury WA) and cannot currently get ADSL broadband due to pair gain copper line to my house. I am forced to be on Telstra wireless broadband with an 8GB quota for $60/mth. 4G wireless broadband speed is great at around 30mbs, 8GB quota is not and costs more (for some unknown reason) than fixed line ADSL. Added to this, we have a minimum of 2 issues with our copper phone line each year that requires a telstra technician to fix, this coincides with the change of seasons as a rule. Each Telstra technician is happy to confirm our street to have the 'the worst copper in the city', and that it should have been replaced years ago.Even if pair gain were not an issue, the copper to my house would not support ADSL in its current state. Labour is aiming at fibre to my house with 100mbs+. This would be great as it overcomes the issue with the copper line to my house. Liberals are aiming at fibre to the node (end of street), relying on copper to complete the connection to my house from there, spot the obvious error in this equation. Also note the liberals solution will only deliver 20-25mbs at best, due mainly to the copper connection to the house, again spot the issue. Exisiting ADSL 2+ services deliver 20-25mbs over copper in the current telstra infrastructure, so where is the benefit in the liberals plan? If you respond with 'you can use wireless'... really? a tiny quota on a congested wireless tower, for a higher cost than those lucky enough to enjoy NBN of any flavour, in a city? Yes the Labour NBN is expensive, but I and others in my area will not be able to use the liberals inferior NBN version as it involves a delapidated copper connection. Look forward to a response.
Andrew Curtis · 1 year ago
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Turnbull sounded like he knew what he was talking about, even with the tough technical questions sometimes given to him. All Conroy likes to say is "FTTP is faster and better", without any consideration for the cost, delivery, and the needs of consumers.
Julian Walmsley · 1 year ago
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Wow Julian Walmsley, ostensibly member of the Young Liberals and fan of the Voice. Thanks for your deep analysis. Can you pass on to Malcolm that you are happy with your 111/2 Telstra cable and that the 25Mbps he has put on the table probably isn't enough? It's sort of like the four lane west connex tunnel duplicating the m5 you appear to be a fan of, it should be done right the first time and not short term thinking.
Henry Wilkinson · 1 year ago
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It's also amusing how your exception to "subsidizing other ppl's Internet" (15/2/2012) fades away when it's your own people put a similarly financed project forward.
Henry Wilkinson · 1 year ago