Why don’t so called “tech experts” read? Or why Adam Turner is misleading the readers of the SMH.

August 29, 2014

Adam Turner is a self described technology expert and today he is writing about the NBN in the SMH online.

He says that "justifications for the multi-technology mix only add up when you ignore the inconvenient numbers."

That was in the first paragraph.

Needless to say he doesn't cite any numbers in his article.

But he does go on to say that "the numbers only stack up if you assume low growth in broadband demand, ignore the costs in maintaining legacy infrastructure and don't factor in the possibility of future fibre upgrades."

Mr Turner conveniently ignores the fact that the NBN Strategic Review published in December last year expressly assumes proactive remediation of a substantial percentage of the copper lines and ongoing maintenance. See pp 86-87 and elsewhere. The assumed percentages for remediation are very conservative - well in excess of what is comparable international experience. The upgrade of the HFC is also taken into account. 

He also, incredibly, ignores the extensive discussion both in the Strategic Review and the recently published Cost Benefit Analysis of the economics of a future upgrade, if required to FTTP. Refer to pp 88-89 and elsewhere in the Strategic Review and in the Cost Benefit Analysis at pp 14-15, pp 86-88  and elsewhere through the paper.

And the possibility of broadband demand being higher than assumed is expressly taken into account in the paper with this conclusion.

"One way of summarising this is to note that the MTM scenario has significantly greater option 
value than the FTTP scenario. The MTM scenario leaves open more options for the future 
because it avoids high up‐front costs while still allowing the capture of benefits if, and when, 
they emerge. It is, in that sense, far more ‘future proof’ in economic terms: should future 
demand grow more slowly than expected, it avoids the high sunk costs of having deployed 
FTTP. On the other hand, should future demand grow more rapidly than expected, the rapid 
deployment of the MTM scenario allows more of that growth to be secured early on, with the 
scope to then upgrade to ensure the network can support very high speeds once demand 
reaches those levels." (p. 14)

So far from ignoring these matters they are all carefully considered and taken into account by the Strategic Review and the Cost Benefit Analysis. Mr Turner is of course free to disagree but to say that the matters have been ignored is an outright falsehood.  

Mr Turner's article shows therefore that he is either deliberately misrepresenting the work done by the NBN Co and the Government's advisors OR (more likely) despite his claim to be a technology expert he has been simply too lazy to bother reading the substantial pieces of work he has chosen to attack.

I look forward to Mr Turner correcting his mistakes and apologising for misleading his readers. I hope in future that the editors at the Sydney Morning Herald make sure to fact check his work as he is clearly neither expert nor diligent as a technology journalist. 

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