Why Conroy is the George W. Bush of the Rudd govt

You would think that after his disastrous episode this week where he alleged that iiNet was in support of the Government’s internet filtering project Communications Minister Stephen Conroy would be vetting his public statements a little more carefully.

Not so.

If you read Conroy’s media release recently about a new network operations centre in Tasmania you’ll find a number of small errors. Let’s go through them one by one.

Three providers – Primus Internode and iiNet – have signed up to deliver services to Tasmanians.

Actually no. There is at least four — Exetel has also been very public about providing NBN services in Tasmania. In fact Conroy himself has referred to this.

Primus has already released its pricing models and I expect people will soon hear from Internode and iiNet.

It’s true that Primus has released its pricing and Internode has yet to although its website is quite confusing compared to the open briefing the ISP gave us a few weeks ago. We’re still not sure if Primus is offering the full 100Mbps. But that’s not the point. However Conroy appears to have overlooked the fact that iiNet released its NBN pricing first thing this morning some hours before he issued his media release.

The Network Operations Centre will be operated by Opticomm which has developed and delivered the electronics for the Stage 1 network roll out.

Actually we believe Opticomm only coordinated the NBN roll-out — as it has coordinated other fibre to the home rollouts in Tasmania and Victoria. The company is one of Australia’s best-known fibre rollout project managers.

The actual “electronics” which are being delivered to customers’ homes as part of the NBN are network termination units (NTUs) — boxes which sit on the side of houses and business premises and act as fibre connecting devices. They convert the fibre signal into an Ethernet cable which runs inside residents’ houses.

And these electronics were not “developed” or “designed” by Opticomm. They were developed by Japanese electronics giant NEC. Neither did Opticomm develop the back-end fibre routing hardware sitting in NBN Co’s network. How could it? It’s a tiny company in Victoria.

Of course some of Conroy’s mis-speaking here can be explained by poor writing in the media release — which he probably didn’t write himself — or just an attempt to provide a broad overview of proceedings rather than go into the specific technical details.

But these sort of small errors go far to indicate that the Minister’s office is not as up to date on what’s happening with the NBN as could be expected.