Former ACCC chairman an NBN "cheerleader", Turnbull says

Malcolm Turnbull has hit back at claims by Graeme Samuel, former ACCC chairman, that fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) uses obsolete technology and equipment.

The Australian Financial Review today reported Samuel as saying the Coalition’s price tag on a FTTN National Broadband Network (NBN) is wrong because compensation would still need to be paid to Telstra for buying its copper network.

Turnbull, shadow minister for communications and broadband, labelled Samuel a “cheerleader for the NBN”, with Australian tax payers to eventually pay for his “enthusiasm” for the network.

“…Samuel’s latest comments show that he’s out of touch with new technologies and with successful upgrades to broadband in a number of other countries…” Turnbull said.

“Carriers around the world are increasingly offering [FTTN] fibre connectivity on a customer-by-customer basis where this makes economic sense.”

Turnbull said Samuel has merely made claims about the cost of a FTTN NBN without backing it up with evidence.

“Perhaps he is not aware that after almost four years, $3.4 billion in funds from taxpayers, $923 million in losses and the resignation of five of the eight executives and three of the nine directors originally hired to run it, Labor’s NBN has so far run its fibre past only 42,000 households,” he said.

The shadow minister called on Samuels to encourage Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, to release quarterly reports on how much the NBN roll out is costing and what targets it is achieving.

Turnbull has also attacked the federal government’s announcement yesterday that it would spend $20 million on NBN marketing “to improve public understanding, address misconceptions and provide updated information about the National Broadband Network”.

The federal government announced it was cutting more than $1 billion in its 2012-13 budget, but has allocated $20 million in an NBN advertising campaign.

“Clearly these cuts were required for the government to free up sufficient resources to ensure NBN Co could commission and screen television commercials promoting its e-health and e-education initiatives, which may one day be delivered over the NBN – if it is ever completed,” Turnbull said.

“The Coalition also looks forward to the next instalment of the department’s newspaper, ‘Connecting Australia’, which was surprisingly overlooked in this year’s Walkley nominations.”

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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