The Set Up
Perhaps this could be seen as a case study not just of the volatile and sometimes distorting character of social media, but equally of the ultra-politicised broadband debate we have in Australia, where people prefer to make accusations and leap to conclusions than actually listen with an open mind and then judge whether whomever they are interacting with has something valid or interesting or helpful to say?
This would be sage advice if it had come from anyone other than the Vandal of Vaucluse, Malcolm Turnbull. Yesterday was the last day that anyone could argue that Turnbull has the country’s best interest at heart. With brazen arrogance, Turnbull demanded a twitter user explain why she hadn’t checked for broadband availability when she bought her house as there was no option for broadband where she lived other than cellular 3G.
It is not for a lack of copper in the ground, but a lack of ports, something regional internet users have become accustomed to over the last decade or more of Telstra neglect.
So let’s look at Turnbull’s lack of rational arguments.
Firstly, we’ll deal with the churlish response, then I’ll rebuff the list of “points” based on fallacious arguments.
This is becoming par for the course for Turnbull, once criticised he turns on the person criticising him. For years it has been geeks & techies like me, but now it’s a failing of voters if they question anything to do with the dogs breakfast that is the Coalition Broadband Network.
With responses like the following, we can only assume that Turnbull is out of his depth:
Apparently we should all be demanding port availability and copper profiles prior to purchasing housing. Is Turnbull going to fork over the $500 a premises required to test the service and investigate ports? I didn’t think so.
The reality is, this demonstrates the failure that is the Coalition Broadband Network. Turnbull wouldn’t need to demand people figure out if they are going to get decent broadband if the services were consistent, something both FTTN & HFC cannot offer.
Not only was Turnbull’s churlish response indicative of his inability to conceptualise the damage that a “Multi-Technology Mix” (or Malcolm Turnbull’s Mess), but shows exactly the disdain for consumers he has. He went a step further by not even quoting Julia Keady correctly in his blog, ignoring exactly what Julia was getting at with these tweets:
Apparently education and small business are low priorities in the Coalition’s world. Remember that next time Tony Abbott dons a high-vis vest touting how he’s a friend of small business.
So what were the conclusions that Turnbull came to, and the rationalisation for his rude, obnoxious, responses?
1. Unlike Labor, the Coalition is committed to completing the NBN in a manner which prioritizes the least well served areas. And unlike Labor we have actually done the homework with our broadband availability and quality study to find out where broadband is good, bad or indifferent.
Well, that’s not true at all. In fact, that’s a patent lie. Just because you keep saying it Mal, doesn’t make it true. Labor’s plan was to deliver the best possible services to the least serviced areas as quickly as possible. In fact, the mission statement, intentions, etc, of NBN Co have not changed since Mal started destroying the rollout.
The ONLY changes to the “How we choose a rollout area” page is fonts and colours: here’s cached versions
Not only this, Turnbull has not “done his homework”. In fact, the joke of a site myBroadband clearly states that Turnbull’s team of tricksters just guessed most of the time.
2. This was NOT a priority of Labor’s, as we have seen Labor’s rollout seemed to owe more to politics than need, a good case being the precincts in Western Sydney where the fibre rollout overbuilt streets with two HFC services available. Think about that:- while people languish with no or very poor broadband (we estimate about 1.6 million households are in that category) Labor was rolling out fibre in a Labor marginal seat in streets where residents had a choice of not one, but two, 100 mbps HFC broadband services.
Another lie, built upon the previous lie. The priorities of the rollout have changed, with Ziggy hinting that economically viable areas will get FTTP, while the rest of the country can deal with decade old services.
Guess what Mal? I can’t get HFC and I live in an HFC area, not only that, I don’t want to pay $150/mo for a service that doesn’t deliver on speed. Not on downloads, not on uploads. Ever wonder why there’s only 900 000 HFC users in a 3 000 000+ rollout area? Ever thought HFC is expensive and under performs?
The only company I can think of stupid enough to buy an HFC network is Vodafone, who purchased an HFC network in Spain and are trying to push HFC in NZ (they’re not having a bar of it).
3. The NBN Co strategic review estimates that the change to our multi technology policy will mean the least served areas will get upgraded at least two years sooner than they would have done under Labor’s 93% FTTP rollout plan.
I’m in a “least serviced area”, speeds are below even ADSL1 speeds locally, but I won’t be getting an upgrade until at least 2030. Yes, 2030. All the “Strategic Review” (it’s just a Boston Consulting Group reprint, absolutely nothing of worth in it) did was reinforce the claim that Turnbull’s only intention is to destroy the NBN. In fact, it’s been shown that almost everything to do with the heavily redacted document was either made up, or deliberately deceptive.
If anything, least serviced areas will still be least serviced when Turnbull starts rolling out FTTN or leaves them languishing on oversubscribed HFC. The nature of HFC means that users will be feeling the pain of slow internet much sooner than others.
4. And of course it is a fact that the biggest barrier to broadband access is not technology (thats important of course) but income. Households in the bottom 20% of incomes are ten times more likely NOT to have access to the internet than those in the top 20% So affordability matters and because our approach to the NBN will be $32 billion cheaper to complete, it will also be much more affordable. The strategic review concluded that for NBN Co to get the 7.1% return Labor promised it would need to raise internet charges by up to 80%.
Now this is some baseless insanity. The ROI figures in the Strategic review don’t even marry up to reality. Doubling your ROI does not mean prices need to be doubled. This assumption clearly shows that the Strategic Review is just a document designed for disinformation, so propaganda.
The key is, with HFC and FTTN’s far higher running costs for power, servicing, remediation, etc, there is no way you can claim that the Coalition Broadband Network will drive prices down. If HFC “drives prices down”, why can I not get a $60 unlimited service with Telstra or Optus? Why are they charging $150/mo for an inconsistent service?
The key is, people aren’t connecting to the internet due to being poor not because of ongoing costs, but because they are slugged with $500+ for a new connection. I don’t know of anyone on minimum wage that can throw down $500 for a connection.
Thing is, Turnbull’s plan will mean more and more people will pay.
This is all without mentioning the cost of hooking up HFC in an MDU. For me, it’d cost well over $30 000 to connect. Even if I owned the place I live in I wouldn’t be having a bar of that.
5. So if you were a person living in an area with poor broadband and were on lower income than average the consequence of Labor’s approach is that you would wait longer to get better broadband and when you got it, it would be much less affordable. A lose – lose you might say – not to speak of the additional cost to the taxpayer.
This doesn’t even make sense. I live in a low socio-economic area with terrible broadband access and the Liberal party took my area off the map. Not only this, in low socio-economic areas, most users are opting for wireless, because they are the least serviced areas, putting pressure on wireless services and degrading them to the point it’s worse than dial up.
Aside from this, we can clearly see that the NBN has had an effect on broadband prices; it made the go down. So either Turnbull is lying, or he’s saying that prices will be ~50% cheaper than now. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t see any service provider dropping their prices by ~50%.
6. Some people have said to me they don’t care how long it takes or much it costs – they want to get fibre to the premises. That rather reckless attitude might suit someone who had pretty good broadband now and a high income, but if you have no broadband now and don’t have a high income you wouldn’t be so blase.
Let’s see, I have what would be deemed a “low income”, I don’t have fibre now, yet I think the most important piece of infrastructure has to be fibre or you have to be honest and cancel the project. Oops Mal, would that be a logical fallacy, it’s called a “false cause”.
In fact, in six years, when we’re using 16 times the data we are now, those people without a high income will suffer as they won’t be able to afford to pay for Fibre on Demand. They will suffer with higher prices as NBN Co tries to recoup costs associated with HFC & FTTN’s lower uptake, and faster bleed (estimated at 30% of users by 2021) to newer, faster, services.
7. The Coalition’s approach means the NBN can be completed sooner (about four years sooner), cheaper ( $32 billion less) and consequently much more affordably. All of the details on this score are in the Strategic Review available at www.nbnco.com.au
This is the crux of Turnbull’s argument: look to the strategic review, look to the strategic review. We have mate, and we’ve seen one of the most disgustingly transparent pieces of propaganda we’ve ever seen. In fact, Computerworld’s Rohan Pearce predicted Boston Consulting Group’s findings back on 25/10/2013 in an aptly titled article “BCG role in NBN review likely death knell for ‘universal’ FTTP”:
Boston Consulting Group, named by NBN Co today as one of three consultancies to aid in a strategic review of the organisation’s operations and the NBN rollout, has in the past advocated an “integrated broadband solution” that employs a mix of technologies for broadband networks.
Nothing about the Strategic Review, or Turnbull’s responses to concerned internet users, shows respect for voters, for the challenging conditions Australia has, or that we should try as best we can to future-proof our telecommunications. If anything, all we’re seeing is lies wrapped in lies wrapped in a disdain for the truth.
If there ever was an example of how out of his depth, and how poor a Prime Minister Turnbull would make, this is it.