Good poker players learn how to read signs from their opponents about when they are bluffing. For Malcolm Turnbull, one signal is when he says “as you know”.
And out it came on Monday night on Q&A when Aldo Donato asked about the NBN debacle.
NBN costs have almost doubled, and the NBN has paused the rollout of its hybrid coaxial fibre technology because the number of complaints are astronomical and the technology does not work. At what point do we acknowledge that the cost savings do not justify the incredibly poor service, and accept the need to revert to a fibre-to-the-house solution that an innovation nation deserves?
Turnbull began his answer with the dismissive smackdown “Almost…almost everything you said there is, uh, incorrect”, a response met by justifiable laughter and groaning from the audience.
“The fact of the matter is that if we were to do an NBN on fibre to the premises across the nation, as you know, it would take six to eight years longer and cost up to $30 billion more. That is a fact, Aldo. I’m sorry, that really is a fact.”
And how do we know this? Because Malcolm told us so.
When Opposition spokesman Stephen Conroy stated that “the cost of the Mr Turnbull’s second-rate copper NBN has nearly doubled to up to $56 billion,” his office was promptly raided by the AFP on the grounds that he was quoting from commercial-in-confidence internal NBN documents. Obviously, what he was saying was true.
The Coalition had promised that, by the end of 2016, all Australians would have minimum speeds of 25 Mbps. According to NBN themselves, at the end of 2017, the service is now “available to more than half of Australian homes and businesses nationwide.”
Malcolm said “it will be three-quarters built by the 30th of June next year, according to the company’s plans, and they say they’re on track to that, and they are committed to getting it completed by 2020.”
Cost blowouts and delays are undeniable, unless you are the PM who foist this dog’s breakfast upon us.
Malcolm went on to say “The pause in the HFC rollout is in order to ensure that premises that are on hybrid fibre coax – these are people with, effectively, mostly, Foxtel, pay TV cables – uh, will…they continue to get their broadband service from Telstra, and they won’t be switched over to the NBN until some technical issues have been resolved. The pause in the rollout is about six months.”
It is interesting to note that the good burghers of Point Piper have had their HFC connection to the NBN up and running for some time.
As NBN proudly publishes data about the increasing number of people who have taken up the service, they neglect to mention that you don’t have a choice in the matter. Once an area becomes “NBN ready”, a cease sales order is imposed. Any new connections must be to the NBN and existing connections must change over by a certain date whether you want to or not.
Living in a marginal seat, we became early guinea pigs for FttN and my life has been hell ever since. I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent on the phone trying to sort out the mess that has been thrust upon us but it would be in the hundreds.
My business was without EFTPOS, fax and security for two months due to a porting mistake by our Telco which Telstra and NBN made impossible to fix.
My home suffered continuous dropouts which not only affects the internet, it takes out our landline with it leaving us with no phone service at all as we live in a mobile blackspot.
Eventually they conceded that we have an “unstable connection” that could only be fixed by lowering the available speed.
I stupidly had been paying for 100 Mbps when Telstra have finally admitted that the maximum download I can receive is 40 Mbps, not that we ever achieve that. Interestingly, they informed me that, if you can get speeds that are half of what you are paying for, they consider that a “good” connection.
When the questioner on the Q&A show raised his hand to respond to Malcolm’s waffle, there followed a disgusting exchange where Turnbull the barrister sought to intimidate and belittle the man’s concerns with constant interruptions.
Eventually Mr Donato was able to get out what he was trying to say. “We’re rolling out a faster NBN, but it’s a far inferior NBN.”
Again, he was smacked down.
MALCOLM TURNBULL: “No, well, you’re wrong. With great respect, Aldo, you’re quite wrong. It is rolling out faster, and that means that more people are getting high-speed broadband more quickly. Believe me, the technology that you have to connect you to the internet is much less important…is irrelevant compared to the service level. What you want to do is…you need to have is the right service level to meet your needs. And what we are doing is ensuring that more people get connected more quickly, and at prices they can afford.
And, you know, do you remember the debate we used to have a few years back when they said everyone is going to need 1,000 megabits per second speed? Do you remember that? You would be a complete…you would just be a total loser, they said, if you don’t have 1,000 megabits per second speed. The vast majority of customers on NBN pay for products of 25 megabits per second or less.”
In actual fact, no-one suggested that we all need speeds of 1,000 Mbps right now, just that fibre connections are capable of being upgraded to higher speeds as they become necessary. Let’s not forget that Malcolm scoffed at the idea of needing 100 Mbps.
And one of the reasons that most people have signed up to 25 Mbps is because the system is not capable of delivering higher.
Malcolm assured us all that “the approach that we’re taking is consistent with the approach that is happening right around the world.”
With rapidly evaporating respect Mr Turnbull, that’s crap. The rest of the world is moving to fibre whilst you have made us a communications backwater, ranking 50th in the world behind places like Thailand, Estonia, Bulgaria and Kenya.