Turnbull Hits Out Over '25Mbps Is Enough' Statement

Tony Abbott said something rather silly at the launch of the Coalition's broadband policy, and now it's coming back to bite the party in its behind. Now Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull is here to "clarify" the record.

At the launch of the strategy, Tony Abbott said that the Coalition's plan for 25Mbps speeds would be more than enough for the average household.

Here's the exact quote from a transcript hosted on Malcolm Turnbull's site (emphasis our own):

TONY ABBOTT:
Just if I may add something. I mean, at 25 megs, you can simultaneously be downloading four HD TV programmes. So you can have four people in four different parts of the standard house watching the sport, a movie, whatever you might be doing. So we are absolutely confident that 25 megs is going to be enough, more than enough, for the average household.

You can see him saying it in this video, too, in case there was a concern about the inflection used in the statement. Fast-forward to 35:50 to hear it or hit play on this video.

That statement was carried far and wide in reports where experts canned the Coalition's plan as not fit for the future of Australia's digital economy. One of those pieces caught Malcolm Turnbull's eye, and he's quite upset about that, especially seeing as how the piece compares Abbott's comments to the alleged Bill Gates quote that nobody needs more than 640KB of memory in computers.

Here's what he had to say to correct the record today:

• we have stated that most people in the wireline footprint would obtain speeds of 50 mbps or more,
• far from wanting to limit people to 25 mbps we have said that is a minimum and that by 2019 our goal is that 90% of premises in the wireline area will have at least 50 mpbps as their minimum.
• we have said repeatedly that we do not rule out much higher bandwidth being needed in the future and that a key element in our plan is to build enough flexibility into the network so that it can be upgraded to fibre to the premises if and when the demand is there.
• we have said that in addition to greenfield premises fibre will be deployed wherever there is commercial demand for it such as instititutions, schools, hospitals, universities, business centres and so on.
• moreover if someone in an FTTN area wants to have FTTP they can pay a premium and have fibre pulled to their house.
• the inference that 25 mbps is an inherently utterly inadequate level of service has to be reconciled with the fact that this is precisely the level of service proposed for those in remote and regional areas in the fixed wireless and satellite zones, people whose need for enhanced telecommunications is as great, if not greater, than anyone else in Australia.

Did Tony Abbott mis-speak? Or is the Coalition serious that we don't need more than 25Mbps in our daily lives? [Malcolm Turnbull]