Patch Monday: There are no NBN apps: Turnbull

Last week I interviewed opposition spokesperson Malcolm Turnbull about his broadband policy, an alternative approach to Labor’s National Broadband Network (NBN) and I was surprised by one comment. Apparently he can’t see any real use for data speeds above 12 or 25Mbps.

“It’s certainly very difficult to think of many applications that are of interest to residential users that would not be perfectly well serviced by the speeds I’ve described,” Turnbull said.

I’d have thought there’s an application staring us right in the face. Video. Multiple streams of video, possibly in high definition, being sent as well as received.

I’ve written about this before at Technology Spectator. There’s a piece coming out at ABC’s The Drum soon, perhaps today. There’s a piece at ABC’s The Drum, Turnbull’s curious high-bandwidth blind spot. And the government has made a little film. But Mr Turnbull does not agree. Or so he says.

In any event, the conversation is well worth listening to, because he raises some excellent points about the NBN, not the least of which is that is you delay capital spending you can save a lot of money.

You can listen below. But it’s probably better for my stats if you listen at ZDNet Australia or subscribe to the RSS feed or subscribe in iTunes.

Please let me know what you think. Comments below. We accept audio comments too. Either Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

[Update 7.25am: Edited to include link to ABC piece.]

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3 comments

  1. Stephen Wilson (@Steve_Lockstep)’s avatar

    This country will continue to slide backwards into one of its quarry holes until we develop a slightly more sophisticated idea of what high bandwidth is all about. Here’s something Turnbull might understand: capacity. What happens when a hundred brokers all want to rush at some stock price at once? It doesn’t matter if a sell order by itself consumes fewer bytes than a YouTube of your dog farting, or last night’s promo for Masterchef. What’s critical is latency when lots of people want to do the same thing at the same time down the same pipes, be it stockbroking or telemedicine, home monitoring, telecommuting, videoconferencing, downloading HSC results, or buying a ticket at 9:00:01 AM for the Grand Final.

  2. Lykurgus’s avatar

    I’m pretty sure Turnbull (a pathological early-adopter) already knows that. But he was tasked expressly to “destroy the NBN” (either Turnbulls words or Abbotts – I don’t recall). And that means making with the stupid. And believing it.

    They had to give up on selling wireless on speed or capacity (12-25Mbps being the speed for having a tower to yourself). Or what Alan Jones called “laser beam technology” (he didn’t know that he was referring to fibre).

    And the people who vote for him still think dial-up’s magic.

  3. Stilgherrian’s avatar

    @Stephen Wilson: I feel your pain. It’s been hard enough to get NBN-related discussions to quote anything apart from the headline “up to” data speeds. Talking about uploads as well as downloads is too hard. Differentiating between the total data capacity of the local loop and the practical sustained speeds achievable by individual users is too hard. You want to discuss latency? Sir, you are pushing it uphill!

    @Lykurgus: “Demolish” was Mr Abbott’s word, if memory serves. I do wonder how much of what Malcolm Turnbull says is his genuine personal belief and how much is him doing his job as communications spokesperson to argue Coalition policy, some of which he of course may not agree with personally.

    That in no way is meant to be an attack. I actually think he’s doing his job very well, and all party politicians have to check in their personal views at the door.

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