The National Broadband Network (NBN) will only improve higher definition video streaming for residential customers so it’s not worth the $43 billion price tag, according to Shadow Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.
Turnbull recently proposed a plan to upgrade existing copper networks, including Telstra’s HFC network, to offer 12Mbps download speeds nationwide. This plan, according to the Shadow Communications Minister, is significantly cheaper than the NBN but will not offer symmetrical download and upload speeds.
On the SBS program, Insight, Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy, argued that upload speeds, which are currently dismal on copper networks, needs to be ramped up for remote health and education high-definition (HD) video streaming services.
Turnbull shot down this claim, arguing HD video conferencing doesn’t require speeds of up to 100Mbps and can be easily done through existing asymmetrical copper line speeds.
“There isn’t much or anything you can do with 100Mbps that you can’t do with 12Mbps for residential customers,” he said during a conference call with the media.
Turnbull suggested the residential customers have no practical use for high symmetrical broadband speeds and was cynical about the perception the NBN will facilitate yet-to-be developed applications.
“The only thing that will require high speeds for residential usage is going to be bigger and bigger files; that can really only be higher definition videos,” he said. “You then have to ask yourself, ‘Should the taxpayers be spending $43 billion [on the NBN] when we know there are so many infrastructure demands screaming out [to be funded] right now?’
“Should we spend $43 billion to cater for needs for applications that are not available today but we don’t know whether they will be in the future?”
The phone conference was called in response to Senator Conroy’s media release today blasting the Coalition’s proposed Telecommunications Bill amendments were redundant and just a ploy to slow the NBN’s progress.