The Australian shadow minister for communications and broadband, Malcolm Turnball, has criticised Google for its support of the Australian government’s NBN scheme, which Turnball described as, ”the most expensive, most anti-competitive broadband network in the world”.
Opening his keynote speech at the Broadband World Forum, taking place today in Paris, France, Turnball said: “The advocates of super fast FTTH broadband often justify themselves by saying you cannot suspend the laws of physics citing the superior capacity of fibre. Well, in a world of scarce resources and almost endless claims on Governments’ budgets you cannot suspend the laws of economics either.”
In his keynote address, Kevin Lo, head of Google’s fibre access program, described the advertising giant’s move into fibre as prompted by innovation. “We believe that we are on the right side of history,” Lo said. “If you put a gigabit in people’s homes they will be inspired to find new ways to use it. We have no idea why you need a gigabit today, but when we all had dial up you could not possibly imagine watching video over them. It’s not about doing email faster, it’s about doing those new things that you don’t do today.”
However, speaking at a panel session after Lo’s address, Turnball challenged Google’s motivations.
“Google has got a massive interest in building these networks and that’s why they’re a supporter of the NBN,” he said. “If I was to build a 10-lane freeway all around my country and only allowed the trucking companies to use it. Then all the trucking operators would say to me, Malcolm – you are a visionary.
“I think there is a lot of technical enthusiasm and exuberance associated with the building of fibre to the home – obviously it is the ultimate solution but it comes at a such very high cost… I think the reality is that taxpayers’ money is a scare resource, and you’ve got to get the balance right,” he said.
Addressing Lo directly Turnball added, “If you can make a buck out of it, god bless you, let us all know the secret.”