12Mbps enough for all applications: Turnbull - Updated

Shadow communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, sees no need to delay cost-benefit analysis

Shadow communications minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has claimed a 12 megabits per second (Mbps) connection to the home is enough for anybody, with no applications existing today that require additional bandwidth.

“For most, if not all applications, much lower speeds are perfectly [fine],” he said. “If you could deliver nationwide 12Mbps at relatively modest cost compared to the NBN, what is the additional utility/value of going from 12 [Mpbs] to 100 [Mbps].

“People in the industry will tell you that they cannot get people to pay a significant premium for an increase in speed. That is partly because, that for a residential user, there isn’t much, if anything, you can do with 100 [Mbps] that you can’t do with 12 [Mbps].”

Turnbull could not confirm how long a 12Mbps network would last before applications demanded higher bandwidth.

(Computerworld Australia delves into the possible applications under a fibre connection)

“The only thing which will drive higher speeds, for residential usage… is going to be bigger and bigger files, and that is going to be, can only be, higher and higher definition video," he said.

“You then have to ask yourself: Should the taxpayer should have to spend $43 billion when there are so many infrastructure demands where there is a screaming need now.

“Should we really be spending $43 billion to cater for needs for applications which aren’t available today, and we don’t know whether they will be available in the future; they might be available. Who knows?”

Turnbull claimed it would be a more viable approach to "tune up" current hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) networks to 100Mbps then determine if demand continued for the speeds. Optus and Telstra recently upgraded their respective HFC networks to the capability using DOCSIS 3.0 technology, which the Opposition has continued to use as a rationalisation for a cheaper alternative to the NBN.

Optus is currently in court with the competition watchdog over alleged misrepresentation of its cable plans and speeds.

Responding to Computerworld Australia, Turnbull dismissed suggestions that a cost-benefit analysis on the National Broadband Network (NBN) be delayed until the mainland NBN pilot sites are fully built and the cost of deploying the network fully known.

Turnbull argued that the costs of deploying fibre-to-the-home networks were already largely known.

“There is a higher degree of certainty about the costs. We know, or should know, with a high degree of certainty what it is actually going to cost to roll this out,” Turnbull said.

“Where the big question marks are what are the benefits, what are the revenues going to be, the take up rate going to be, what are the spill over economic benefits going to be.”

The mainland trial sites, announced in March would, according to NBN Co chief executive, Mike Quigley, validate network design, construction and installation techniques to test the requirements of the NBN across a range of different geographies and climates.

A spokesperson for the office of communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, did not comment on Turnbull's 12Mbps claims, but cited OECD and Australian Industry Group reports indicating potential productivity benefits as a result of high-speed broadband.

"Like so many key pieces of national building infrastructure that don’t require a cost benefit analysis – for example expanding a national highway - the potential benefits affect almost every aspect of the economy and of society," the spokesperson said.

"To do a formal cost-benefit analysis of the NBN would take many years, require many heroic assumptions, and would imperil Australia’s chances of receiving world-class broadband and NBN Co’s viable business case, just as it is beginning to deliver."

Tags Malcolm Turnbullfibre-to-the-homenbn coNational Broadband Network (NBN)

More about etworkOECDOptusQuigleyTelstra Corporation


Michael Wyres


Malcolm, Malcolm, Malcolm...

...when will you figure out that it is not about the download speed, but about the UPLOAD speed?



The dog continues to chase it's tail. Turnbull says there are no apps today that require more than 12Mbps. Not many apps here do, because few users have more than 12Mbps.

Round and round we go, conveniently ignoring both overseas experience where high speed broadband is available, and the projections for our future needs by the time NBN is completed.



Generally I respect Malcom Turnbull but the idea that '12 Mbps' is enough for all applications is incredibly short sighted. Yes it is enough for all applications RIGHT NOW but who knows what will be available in 2 years or even 5 years time. High definition video will be a part of the driver for higher bandwidth speeds but it will definitely not be the only driver.



And when there are four people in the household, all doing
their own thing???????



Only someone who's never experienced faster speeds would say this.

My normal download speed is around 20Mbps, but occasionally there's a problem with the line and the speed can be reduced. If it gets as low as 12Mbps it's really noticeable as everything, even browsing, is significantly slower (it's almost half the speed after all!).

I would hate to have to be limited to just 12Mbps all the time!



When Mr Turnbull says 12Mbps, he is referring to a peak speed. That means that your actual speed is probably closer to 2 Mbps.
And as Michael points out, it's the faster upload speed that all the new apps (which Malcolm must not have seen yet) will require.



If they were providing a guarantee of a symmetric 12Mbps connection (12Mbps down and 12Mbps up) with a 1:1 contention circuit between your premises and the nearest POI (connection to backhaul) then maybe someone would be interested, but seriously anyone with ADSL2+ knows that anyone who lives over 2kms from the exchange probably won't get 12Mbps or even 20/24Mbps (which is what is advertised). Using the HFC network might work (advertised as 20Mbps, 30Mbps and 100Mbps for the lucky people in Melbourne), but even then there is no guarantee that you will get the service that is advertised as the cable network is a shared service and there is definitely no 1:1 contention ratio, not even 4:1 contention.

And then there is the upload issue with both ADSL and HFC... it just isn't good enough. If I was to videoconference with someone on ADSL2+ (I have this as well), we would only be able to stream A/V at a maximum of 1Mbps, 12 times slower than the proposed minimal speed, and at the same time both connections would become pretty much completely stalled for any other user on the network as they wouldn't be able to request anything.

At work we get 10Mbps down and 0.8Mbps up, which when you split this amongst 320 users, it really just doesn't cut it. When someone connects in remotely, the whole connection comes to a standstill because they are using all the upload bandwidth, and no requests can be made from inside the network. And getting a reasonable NBN comparable connection just isn't affordable for us. We can't get Midband Ethernet, HFC provides no static IP addresses (and it is a shared service), Wireless Ethernet is too unpredictable and fibre is too expensive, so we are stuck with ADSL2+.

The NBN would be capable of providing 1000Mbps downlink and 400Mbps uplink to the premises, which provided a great deal of bandwidth (even if this is uncontended) and 100Mbps downlink and 100Mbps uplink (guaranteed and 1:1 contended). Even if we don't just all of the capabilities to start with, the reasons and possibilities will start flooding in and I'm sure in the near future the speeds would be considered normal and used everyday.

So Malcolm, if you could guarantee a synchronous 12Mbps 1:1 contended connection to everyone in australia then maybe we would start turning heads. Even then, how long will the 'network bandaid' last because we will need a more robust connection later down the track, and why not do it right once and not have to replace it for ages, rather than patching it up and then realising you've wasted money and need the NBN afterall (even if 5 years down the track). Until you work out a more comparable broadband policy I think I'll be supporting the NBN, because even though it is more expensive overall, the service is way more future-proofed, and won't need replacing for a very long time, paying for itself over the lifetime of the network.

Daniel Riley


Poor Malcolm
Malcolm Do u Live in Real world.Australia Same Internet speed as A third World Country
wake up Malcolm



When someone else drives you everywhere, you don't care about roads or fuel costs. When someone else pays for your house and living expenses, you don't care about mortgage interest rates or food prices. When someone else prints out emails for you and types out your replies, you don't care how fast your computer is.

Similarly, when you've never used the internet before, you don't even know what it is... prompting ridiculous statements like "12Mbps is enough for everyone"!

The level of comprehension shown by both major parties in terms of technology (and I assume every other area that I am personally less familiar with) is truly woeful. While ministers themselves do not require any knowledge of a particular portfolio to be appointed, they are supposed to be fed information from experts in the civil service and through submissions from the public. Yet we see just about everything ever said by politicos regarding any technology topic is typically just plain ridiculous - in the literal sense, being worthy only of ridicule.

I don't know which is more frustrating - knowing that when voting we will be choosing between Idiot A or Idiot B, or that once one of the Idiots gets into office he will be serviced by the same civil servants who rolled out the dross for the last guy.

The trouble is, the general public usually aren't technology experts either, so most voters wouldn't be in a position to see how ridiculous a claim is that "12Mbps is enough".

You have to wonder which muppet is preferable - the Stephen Conroy baloney roadshow ("We will filter the world, mwouahahaha!"), or the Malcom Turnbull nonsense express ("12Mbps is enough for anyone, forever!!!!").



12mbps unlimited would suit the vast majority of Australians. No need to waste $43bn on NBN fibre for script kiddies to download pr0n & illegal copyright.

George Bray


640KB RAM should be enough for anybody.

Bill Gates, an 80's guy



Just like Bill Gates said 640Kb of RAM was enough for anyone when the PC first came out. Now the average PC has between 1,000,000,000Kb (1GB) and 8,000,000,000Kb (8GB) of memory. To say 12Mbps is future proof is just mind bogglingly stupid. 2D HDTV 1080p realistically requires atleast 16Mbps per TV/Channel and that doesnt allow for the extra bandwidth required for 3D or other viewers/TV's in the house. Nor does it also include bandwidth for simple internet access or VoIP or all the other net hungry devices.

If Malcom was a real leader he would ask an expert and not just talk rubbish. Having said that Stephen Conroy is by no means any better. Dont get me started on his Great Wall of Manditory Censorship and his magical rationalization of it all.

Basically in Australia we have two ministers, the one in power and the shadow minister. Both are incompetent morons who have no idea what they are talking about and no idea as to how technology works. If this country is to move forward we need to start hiring actual experts with actual training in the field they are responsible for. Ie; the ministers should be at a minimum CCNA qualified or they are just wasting our time and money.



12Mbps in both directions probably would suffice for all of Australia for the time being - but you could only do it with fibre. Sure you could manage 12/1 to most people over copper - but there'd be no scope for upgrading past that, and the upload speeds would be insufficient. Turnbull also seems to be ignoring the reality of multi-threaded demand for bandwidth. While I might only ever need 12Mbps for a single application, I might be using multiple applications on a machine at once - and I might have 10 machines in a household. I could be living in a share house, or I could have 5 kids, or I could leave my server running while I'm using the laptop downstairs. Turnbull's concept of "the internet" is having a computer in your study that you use to check your emails once a day.



@ 12 Peter,

We don't need to stream HD 1080p down the net. If people want that content then they can either get cable, rent a blu-ray, use digital TV or pay for their own fibre or ethernet (which is what most mid size businesses do).

12mbps would do fine for most Australians. If there's a real need for more speed then a commercial market will deliver it such as HFC. IF fibre is required then the commercial market will deliver it, period.

The fact is that most of my surfing is from offshore & I don't get U.S. downloads above 8mbps with iiNet or 4mbps with TPG (using ADSL2+ sync @ 20mbps).

All this nonsense about HD tele-conferencing into every home is simply nothing but snake oil skin sales tactics.

next gen apps and data


the world is smart devices, PC's are now becoming in synch with smart devices. These new apps cost $1.99 or free. They are clients or self contained to a service.
They run on devices with sophisticated OS and memory mgt. The smarts are at each end. VIrtualisation and smarts at each end reduces the data load versus of course massively increased usage of the apps and thus data. Even the health guy said their apps 'were' data heavy' but now are to the new design. Smart devices (eg iphone or HTC) perhaps now are the common demoninator in application and data transfer characteristics.
Intensive use of a smart device barely gets up to 5gb a Month for most in a month. 5 to 12mbs is more than capable for good quality service. Its a new world.
HD video, streaming media, interactive - yes thats heavy.
But why should that be a lowest common demoninator as a social obligation or universal access - thats usually entertainment and a discretionary choice.
And we read today - the vendors agree that speeds and data over good old twisted pair - will be near same to fibre in 5 years.
GIven the advances in smarts at each end of the wire.
Couple that with the advance in apps, data, design and the connectivity isnt the chokepoint anymore.
But it is with an NBN because that will all be denied. You will be stuck on an obsolete govt owned filtered expensive white elephant that will actively have to deny you any advance in global technologies.



HD Video Conferencing, Real time backup, just in time duplication and fail over, telecommuting,

That's five things I just thought of in 5 seconds I could implement for my users and business if I had NBN connections to play with (I have 1400 users across multiple sites in mostly regional Australia).



I hate that Malcolm keeps pulling out the American study and quoting it like it's some bible of truth. Comparing the U.S. to Australia is just silly. Whilst the two countries are of similar size geographically, nothing much else is the same. They have major cities every 100km or so whereas we have them every 1000km or more. The infrastructure capabilities and costs of US companies is not the same as Australian companies.

If the Govt didn't put in the NBN could/would Telstra do it? Could Optus or IInet?



I agree with our master Mr Turnbull. 12Mbps is enough....MORE than enough for ANYBODY. Who uses the internet anyway? It's just gamers and people who are looking for porn. I think computers have had their day anyway. Why bother investing all this money into something we won't use in the future. Mr Turnbull - you have my vote! And anybody who says your an idiot...well - I think they are an idiot. Bring back pen & paper ftw!! Who needs the internet when you've got Etch-a-sketch.



I've worked in the ICT industry for over forty years. The one rule-of-thumb that seems to have worked consistently over that entire period is: to estimate how much "X" you need for the next two years, simply double your worst case estimate and then expect that amount to be consumed/redundant/superseded within one year at the outside. Malcolm Turnbull is missing the point about future-proofing, and 'enabling technologies'. There are many arguments presented above as to why 12/1Mbps is inadequate now, so no need for me to repeat them. The point I'm trying to make is: enabling technologies such as that presented by the NBN create opportunities for new applications that we haven't yet conceived. If we are to avoid becoming a technology backwater, we need our policy makers to be a bit more forward thinking than they seem to be at present.

Richard Ure



Why don't we cut funding for the AIS and aim for silver in London?



what a toss!!! he's definately missed the point. Besides, increasing bandwidth opens the way for more creative applications that can be used across all industries therefore creating "jobs" yes... that's right "jobs".

So if he's that much of a tight@$$ about it then I'll happily donate him a DSL modem so he can enjoy all 12Mbps of political pr0n at home.

Friggin t0sser!!! your out of touch!!

Next thing he'll be telling us Commodore 64 more then enough for government departments. (probably is seeing how slack the public sector is thanks to these idiots pushing their person opinion)

So much for being the voice of the ppl!!



"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers” (T.J. Watson, Sr. 1943, founder of IBM)

Half of Australia's households today have five or more computers, smartphones or internet-connected media devices.

Malcolm Turnbull is being very disingenuous in his obstructionist stance.

When those towns of sufficient size and population density to have made the cut receive their NBN fibre, it will open every door to them for civic engagement, health, education, freedom from isolation and, yes, entertainment. 97% of us will also get wireless that WORKS, because the heavy data loads are on fixed fibre and not congesting the wireless bandwidth.

In short, the tyranny of distance will cease to be an obstacle to having a self-sustaining population in regional Australia and will take pressure off our creaking, overcrowded major cities.



Turnbull makes me sick, I am running BP cable 30Mbps
30Mbps Peak = When no one else is on the network.
30Mbps = 7Mbps average.
Telstra and Optus even with their DOCSIS 3.0 technology can never guarentee you 100Mbps because you are limited by the 3000 homes in your node, how many connected and how many online, HFC is a shared Network and they can only provide you the speeps they promise if nobody else is online.
Optus and Telstra will never allow re-sellers on their HFC networks so you will not have a choice at all within the next 2 years when the DSL networks fail to keep up.
Turnbull you lost the ellection from your bad advise, now that same advise makes you an irrelevant party to this discussion, because you have no fiaken clue.




Please explain how you are going to get ADSL DSLAM's we currently have to run at 12/12Mbps symmetric?

The kind of offerings we have today are call SHDSL, Frame Relay or Ethernet WAN services. ADSL is broadband and is asymmetric. The hardware that that FTTN is based on is also asymmetric.

I would think you would need VDSL, however in keeping to the promise of offering e-health ane e-working, we would require business grade symmetric services of VDSL, whcih would mean base on copper last mile technology we are looking at max. speeds of 10/10Mbps.

If NBNCo wants to run this model, it would mean the current model of Data and Broadband needs to be totally overhauled.


Richard Ure


Malcolm lives in Abbott land.

Malcolm keeps telling us he was/is an internet pioneer. Then he capitulates to crazy orders from Neanderthal Tony and blows his credibility out of the water. Does he have Prime Ministerial ambitions? Can he represent Australia’s interests if he won’t play straight with Tony? And us?

He has shot his ambitions in the foot by not backing the NBN to the hilt. If he wants a cost benefit analysis for the NBN, let’s have one for his bandaid project so we can see its real shortcomings. Some keep talking about ADSL 2+ being good for 2 km. I don’t consistently get 10 meg at less than 1 km, what of everyone else? But Malcolm seems to be in denial about the state of either of the existing networks and blathers on regardless.

Malcolm: you are in a hole; stop digging.



As an Australian expat living overseas and working in the communications industry, it is always so depressing coming back to Australia and seeing teh pitiful state of the industry here.
At last teh NBN could frogleap Australia to a position that helps attract business here that need and rely on huge amounts of bandwidths.
We have seen in places like Korea where they threw a huge amount of investment at domestic bandwidth speeds (you can get a 1Gbps at your home there :) ) that it sporned a huge growth in online bsuiness's and ancillary private investments.
I like Malcom Turnbull too...but he is a twat when it comes to Telecommunications.
Thank god teh coalition lost and did not kill of NBN.
You wanna see waste - Let the Liberals roll out their cobbled trogether mishmash of technologies and then need to forklift upgrade it all again in 5 Years. That is WASTE
You lay fiber once...ONCE people....and later when new faster technologies come along you can simply upgrade the lasers that drive it.
We are all 'Oliver" when it comes to bandwidth and applications that consume it."please sir...may I have some more?'

NBN is fantastic - and Telstra is weeping in the corner for now they no longer have teh stranglehold on teh domestic market that they have milked since australia supposedly deregulated.

Go for it Stephen Conroy.

Ken Dally


And so Malcolm joins a long and illustrious list of people making idiotic statements:

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
-- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year."
-- The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

"But what ... is it good for?"
-- Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968,commenting on the microchip.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
-- Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."
-- Western Union internal memo, 1876.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"
-- David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible."
-- A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."
-- Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

"If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this."
-- Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads.

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value."
-- Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."
-- Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction".
-- Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

"640K ought to be enough for anybody."
-- Bill Gates, 1981

"$100 million dollars is way too much to pay for Microsoft."
-- IBM, 1982

"Who the h_ll wants to hear actors talk?"
-- H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

missed one big stupid claim


@27 you missed one.
"The (Australia) NBN will cost $27b & deliver productivity value".

yes ironically he did


@28 haha, your right for all the wrong reasons. your reply should be added to the list, with all the other idiot statements now shown to be wrong, just as your idiot statement will in years to come too.



I disagree. Streaming HDTV on just one TV requires around 20Mbps of bandwidth, not even touching multiple people doing multiple things at once.

12Mbps of bandwidth is nothing, I have a 15-16Mbps connection depending on the alignment of the moons or whatever, but even when it's all working well at 16Mbps it gets bogged down horrifically with 3 people just browsing, let alone downloading stuff.

Turnbull needs to understand the way HE uses the internet isn't the way others do, many people are power users, not luddites like him, and even if everyone did use the internet like him - he needs to understand many families have multiple people using the internet at once.

I HATE how he keeps bringing HFC in, for a start the HFC providers charge a ridiculous premium (that I would be happy to pay if I could get it, anyway) but secondly they barely cover 20% of the country, furthermore the upstream is limited to 2Mbps for no good reason, that's absolutely crippling, you can barely utilize 100Mbps downstream with the overheads with 1Mbps upload..

Comments are now closed

Analyst, Vodafone cast doubt on likelihood of telco's sale