back to article Well, that about wraps it up for the NBN

The opposition spokesperson for communications in Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, has delivered a damning blow to the government’s plans for a National Broadband Network (NBN), citing international data to show declining demand for services at 100 Mbps. Since the NBN’s business plan assumes a fairly strong takeup of 100 Mbps …


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  1. Richard Freeman

    Turnbull is the opposition

    I bet Turnbull is smart enough to know what is going on - but as he is in the opposition (and let's not forget they are the folk responsible for this mess - when they sold off Telstra without structural separation) he is not interested in reality, truth or honesty and is picking and choosing his Data to make the Government look bad.

    Remember it's not dishonesty if it's just being politically astute....

  2. Mark 65

    Minor pedantic point of issue...

    "(It would be both tangential and unfair to point out that first, Australians pay over-the-odds for everything under the sun except coal"

    I think we even pay over the odds for that. In the good old UK the current price per kWh excl VAT is 11.37p (17.43c) and in Australia it is around 19c/kWh. The UK doesn't really produce coal, may have nuclear, but I'm pretty sure imports most of its fuel. Australia has shitloads of coal and we still pay more for power. Nice! Resource rich and retail price poor. Lucky country indeed.

  3. Veldan

    All well and good.... but

    We should never have been using Korea as an example of demand in the first place-

    Population (Korea, 2009) - 48,747,000

    Population (Australia, 2009) - 21,874,900

    Size of Australia - 7,686,850 sq km

    Size of Korea - 98,480 sq km

    Square meters per person (Korea) - 2.02

    Square meters per person (Australia) - 351.4

    Korea is 0.57% the size of Australia per person.

    (*Disclaimer: these are rough numbers, I'm not a mathematician)

    While I realise that most of Australia's population is crammed into the cities the NBN is still going to go everywhere people are. From a purely cost of cable versus area to cover we can't even come close to Korea.

    Even if we only use 10% of Australia's land mass (I remember hearing most of the population is in 10% of the land mass) we still get 35.1 square meters per person.

    Roughly 17 times more space to cover.

    All this so some farmers in the middle of Ulla Dulla can get high definition shots of female anatomy and check which backstreet boy their friends are... awesome...

  4. flibbertigibbet
    Thumb Up


    Thanks for the article Richard. It's nice to have something counterbalancing the spin from Abbott's side, although spin is probably a generous description of probably should be called outright lies. It's disappointing to see them coming from Turnbull.

    1. Head


      Please then, tell us who the NBN should be looking at? What other first world country with similar land area and population should be referenced?

      1. Tim99 Silver badge

        Reference countries and statistics

        How about Sweden or Norway?

        Some wiki data:

        Population: AU 22M; SW 9M; NO 5M

        Area: AU 7.6M km2 ; SW 0.45M km2; NO 0.38 km2

        Pop Density: AU 2.83/km2 (233rd); SW 20.6/km2 (192nd); NO 12.5/km2 (211th)

        Urban Population: AU 92%; SW 83 %; NO 55%


        Internet speeds: AU 8.3Mbps (44th) SW 25.2 Mbps (3rd) NO 14Mbps (9th)

        "Promised" Speed: AU 62.2% SW 83.1% NO 95.2%

        All three countries are wealthy, have low population densities and are urbanized, so the "tyranny of distance" may not be that bad...

  5. Steve Hogan

    That doesnt mean NBN will be good for Australia

    Korea is not a great model to show that the NBN would be a good thing for Australia. Korea has a far higher population in a much smaller geographical area. The cost to roll out in Australia is huge, the takeup will not be as high as Korea's and the ROI is poor.

    If 1million users subscribe to high speed broadband at $50 per month, it will take 66 YEARS to recover the setup costs. IF installation comes in on budget.

    Has anyone else done the basic math and figured that the NBN will cost $1600 per person in Australia to build, IF it comes in on budget.

    If anyone thinks that they arent going to be taxed significantly more to cover this, they are living in a fairy wonderland. This stupid, arrogant government will tax us to destitution.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      $1600 eh?

      That's... hmm... I pay about $60/month for 512kbps ADSL... about 27 months worth. Sounds good to me.

      Where do I send the cash?

      1. Steve Hogan

        $1600 per person

        Thats $1600 per head in Australia, not per connection. We will need to pay $1600 per person for the NBN.

    2. lifesgood


      Sorry Steve, where did you find these fuzzy figures?

      The NBN aims to provide broadband and telecoms services to 100% of the Australian population, that's currently 21mil people, not 1mil.

      Those of us with a home telephone line currently pay at least $21 per month (Telstra Homeline Budget is the cheapest available, even if you make no calls) plus Broadband services (anywhere between $40 to $100p/m or more), for those lucky enough to be close an an exchange which supports it. Those that are not, typically use dial-up or heavily-congested wireless services, or are forced to accept having no Internet connectivity at all. These costs have not significantly changed in 10 years, and services have not dramatically improved.

      Under the NBN, there will be no such thing as line-rental, coverage will be ubiquitous (at least out the last 7% which will use upgraded wireless technology) and very fast. Shared Wi-Fi networks and 3G/4G will be less congested. Most households will acually SAVE money under a suitable NBN plan ( for their usage profile, while those that would like improved quotas or performance can readily do so (and millions will), and NBN Co (gov/taxpayers) will still make plenty of money.

      The investment in Australias future will be easily repayed many times over while it contributes to our collectively improved productivity. The NBN will refresh Australia as a CLEVER country (IT and Knowledge-driven vs just a dumb mining resource). I hope these facts make you consider this project in a new light, and might make you reach some different conclusions on it's affordability and viability.

      1. Steve Hogan

        Does every person in Australia have their own internet connection?

        My numbers aren't fuzzy, your logic is. Most households in Australia have more than one individual residing therein. You do not need one connection per person in each house.

        I agree that the new service will probably not cost end users much more in up front fees and it will definitely provide a superior network.

        My issue is that the $50 billion setup cost will not be recouped from connection charges and we will all end up paying more in our taxes for it. The set up cost does not include ongoing maintenance fees.

        The existing network uses existing infrastructure, either Telstra is making a killing at the moment or an NBN connection will end up costing a lot more.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Yes but...

    This is the same Malcolm Turnbull who flashes his iPad around chanting 4G!

    Pity he didn't see this:

  7. Originone

    Did I do that?

    I posted to the comments of Malcolm's article a summary of your analysis Richard including links to the LG U+ and SK Broadband subscriber data and a link to your article, and shortly afterwards Malcolm's article disappeared, and has remained unavailable for 4 hours now.

  8. Head


    Jesus Christ Malcolm Turnbull will you just shut the fuck up already?? 100 meg or 50 meg it makes no difference in cost at the end of the day!

    I am SICK of Telstra and their shit phone lines, the constant congestion i have to suffer and the proximity i have to be in for DSL service.



  9. melts

    politicians and numbers just don't mix

    Now I just wish this information gets picked up and tabled in the overly expensive politician paddock building thing during one of there shouty matches. However all politicians seem to struggle with numbers and/or fact checking so I doubt anyone will be dealing with Turnbull effectively with numbers, just more doublespeak

    its a shame, I'd love to see some fact based slap downs for once, instead of the whiny crap they pull (all while being paid from my tax dollar)

    o well

  10. Me Meeson

    Intelligent and thorough?

    Turnbull is only intelligent and thorough when compared to other politicians. He, like the rest of them, is only interested in personal glory and power.

    His greatest talent is facts into pretzels.

  11. David Hicks

    Shove it where the sun don't shine, Turnbull

    I live in Perth. If I could get reliable 10 Mbit maybe I wouldn't care so much about the NBN, but sure as hell something needs to be done if I can't get more than 3-4 in a state capital! And that's on a good day!

    Australia still doesn't seem to get this "internet" thing. Retailers haven't realised they actually have to compete with overseas offerings now, and the government doesn't seem to have realised that part of the reason Australians don't use the 'net all that much is because the infrastructure is out of the stone age.

  12. Chezstar
    Thumb Down

    How could he...

    How would Turnbull – who is both intelligent and thorough – be misled?

    He was neither misled, nor is he intelligent.

    Statistics will always point to what you WANT them to point to. Turnbull would have known that the overall data shows a rise, but hey, that doesn't tell the people the story you WANT to tell does it?

    No, far easier to pull a little bait and switch, only show the people a small slice of your statistical analysis, and make them foam at the anti-NBN mouth. Then run around waving you hands in the air screaming "Look over there!! Pretty butterflies!! Labor hates butterflies!! *froth*" and distract the populace before they can investigate further.

    Remember, this is politics, not real world, or real smart, or real moralistic, or...well... real anything.

  13. Alan Hargreaves

    too good to be true?

    I am wondering how long it took Richard to research this article.

    Obviously he spent more time on it than Malcolm.

    From Malcolm's perspective the information that he got must have appeared almost too good not not use immediately.

    Of course those of us how have been on the net for any amount of time know that if something appears too good to be true, then it probably *is* too good to be true.


    1. John Angelico

      And you ASSUME...

      ...that building the electronic equivalent of an eight-lane freeway to your driveway will improve your effective download speed?

      Maintaining the vehicular analogy, if your car was a Skoda Popular (, what would be the benefit to you of an eight lane freeway outside your pot-holed and mud-filled drive?

      You probably couldn't get it into the traffic stream very easily, and it would still only putter along at 48mph.

      From your own post, first we need reliable service, THEN we can talk about speed

      1. David Hicks

        Umm... you functionally moronic?

        Seriously, the NBN is about putting in decent, modern infrastructure, which is exactly what this country needs. Doing that at less than 100MB in this day and age would be ridiculous and unlikely any cheaper.

  14. Jason Ozolins

    Business Spectator web site "busy" for exactly one article - Turnbull's

    [statements about Business Spectator web site correct at time of posting]

    If you try to read the linked article on Business Spectator in which Turnbull plays fast and loose with the numbers, you will get back a page saying that the Business Spectator web site is "busy", and that you should try again later.

    Strangely enough, if you click on the big Business Spectator banner at the top of the busy page, you'll find that there is absolutely nothing amiss with the web site... but if you perform a search that (quickly) returns a link to Turnbull's article, then click on it, you get the same "we're terribly busy" page.

    Busy doing what, exactly? Helping rewrite the article to remove the factual errors and mistaken conclusions? I'd love to compare the original article with whatever returns in its place... if it doesn't just get flushed down the Memory Hole.

    icon: FAIL of a mainstream publication to do proper editorial fact checking...

  15. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Turnbull is an ideologue

    And an old fashioned one at that.

  16. Malcolm Turnbull

    Korean Broadband

    KT's share of the broadband market is growing - from 42.5% in Jan 2010 to 43.4% in March 2011. Its total subscribers have grown from 6,967,000 of which 82.9% were Internet Lite (50 mbps) in Jan 2010 to 7,588,000 of which 85.5% were Internet Lite (50 mbps). The balance in each case was Internet Special (100 mbps). So the assertion in the above article that KT has been losing subscribers to other telcos is not correct, at least in net terms. What is interesting is that in a straight contest between 100 mbps and 50 mbps from the same telco with a modest price differential, there has been a decline in the 100 mbps share. The article notes that there has been an increase in 100 mbps subscribers with other smaller telcos. I dont have a comment on why this has occurred, but one clue may be, for example with LG U, that the products are 10 mbps on HFC on the one hand (which has declined in share) versus 100 mbps on Optical Lan or HFC both of which have increased. An explanation may be that customers do see utility in upgrading from 10 to 100 mbps but not from 50 to 100 mbps. I am not aware of the pricing differential within the LG U product mix w hich may also provide some explanations. It is worth noting too that in Korea while KT (Korea Telecom) is the largest broadband company there is active facilities based competition from other companies which has had the result of ensuring that prices are much lower than those proposed for the government monopoly NBN.

    1. Originone

      Funny that.

      see my previous post @6:26 gmt.. The article went offline shortly after i posted a comment on it summarising this article.

      Me thinks Business Spectator is less than unbiased on this subject if they allowed the article to be pulled when it bacame apparent it might be wrong.

    2. Mike Echo

      @ Malcolm Turnbull

      " What is interesting is that in a straight contest between 100 mbps and 50 mbps from the same telco with a modest price differential, there has been a decline in the 100 mbps share."

      While the drop in 100 mbps user numbers might be "interesting", you cannot really use the drop to draw any conclusions as to why the numbers have dropped. There are probably various dynamics at play and we do not know the entire scenario.

  17. Matware

    It looks like the article has been pulled

    nuf said.

  18. david 12 Bronze badge

    Did I understand this right?

    What you are saying is that in SK, people really do want high speed internet, but they prefer to buy it from an alternate source?

    So on that model, we will pay vast amounts for the NBN to every door, then the clients will move to some other provider?


  19. btone

    What a Crok

    Just tried to access Mal's article at the good ol' fair and balanced Business Spectator and got this message:

    "Sorry, we're busy.

    Business Spectator is currently experiencing high demand.

    Please try again in a few minutes".

    Busy with high 2.15 am on a Saturday morning Sydney time...

    ...Yeah right...

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Everything is normal

    Because someone pointed out the truth, they had to modify their lies.

    This is normal practice. Articles about political matter often changes. Not long ago, there was an article about something big waste about an existing gov project, which contains information bad for the gov. It only lasted a couple of hours before it was changed and the original disappeared forever from the internet.

    I know that matter, because I work for the dept which the project involved, and the original article was only telling less than half the number about the true waste, to make the matter worse.

    AC for a good reason.

  21. D. M

    @david 12

    Are you blind Lib voter? You do know that NBN does wholesale, it doesn't matter which provider you choose.

  22. Adrian Esdaile

    Anything Malcolm Turnbull says....

    So a negative statement from Malcolm Turnbull is a 'damning blow'? Are you sure you know Australian politics?

    A statement from a guy who bragged about threatening to kill other Prominent Australian Business Identities?

    A statement from a guy who makes the Mad Monk Tony Abbott look like the teddy bears picnic?

    A statement from Turnbull putting forward South Korea as a positive model for Australia? I wonder if he also believes in Fan Death.

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