Abbott struggles with broadband basics

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has struggled to explain the basics of his broadband policy, saying he is not a “tech head”.


Mr Abbott was conspicuously absent when his colleagues, communications spokesman Tony Smith and finance spokesman Andrew Robb, unveiled the coalition’s $6 billion broadband plan in Canberra on Tuesday.

It guarantees minimum broadband speeds of 12 Mega bits per second (Mbps) for 97 per cent of homes, whereas Labor’s national broadband network promises 100Mbps to 99 per cent of households.

Mr Abbott was later quizzed on how many towers the opposition would have to build to implement the plan, how many kilometres of fibre would be required to connect them, and what spectrum would be used to deliver the network.

“I’m no Bill Gates here and I don’t claim to be any kind of tech head,” he told ABC Television in response.

Mr Abbott also drew blanks on what his broadband network’s peak speed of 12Mbps actually meant.

“Again, if you are going to get me into a technical argument, I’m going to lose it because I am not a tech head,” he said.

“We are offering 12 and up … but in the vast majority of cases it will be a lot more than that, a lot faster than that.”

Peak speed is the best speed at which internet users can download material, usually when there are fewer people online, for example at midnight. When there is lots of online traffic, download speeds slow.

Mr Abbott said Mr Smith and Mr Robb were more adept at fielding technical questions than he was.

“I do not have the same level of technical competence in this area that they have,” he said.

Mr Abbott said the coalition would deliver a “good” broadband scheme that was quicker and cheaper than Labor’s offering.

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