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Telstra, not Turnbull, at fault in Twitfight

Caveat emptor applies to broadband so Turnbull was rude but right

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Australia's communications minister Malcolm Turnbull stands accused of telling small business owner Julia Keady to move to another home if she wants better broadband, but that interpretation of the exchange between Turnbull and Keady is not correct and ignores the golden rule of any transaction: buyer beware.

Here's the pair of tweets that kicked off the exchange.

The source of the first tweet, small business owner Julia Keady, has since blogged the following points:

  • Our research into Ocean Grove showed adequate broadband for our needs
  • When we called to connect our services, we were told there would be no broadband available to us. We did check prior to purchasing our house.
  • Telstra customer service said they would not be putting any more ports into the exchange due to the uncertainty brought about by the NBN

Our take on the post is that prior to buying the house, Keady checked about broadband availability and was told DSL services are available in the area. But upon attempting to actually acquire a DSL service the lack of available ports was pointed out, leading Keady to express her ire.

Keady's more detailed explanations on her blog show the situation does deserve some attention. Whatever source Keady used to satisfy her curiosity about the availability of broadband, it clearly did not offer the nuanced information that would have allowed a properly-informed decision. Turnbull's portfolio gives him scope to ensure that fate does not befall others.

But accusing Turnbull of suggesting Keady move house is nigh-on impossible to support on the facts in the public domain.

The Register's Australian staff feel Turnbull often displays the point-scoring, evasive behaviour that Australians so revile in their leaders. But on this occasion, he asked a reasonable question - did you check before you moved? - and did not receive a direct response.

Keady's points are well made. More pervasive broadband is a fine idea. Few in Australia contest that notion and fewer of those who do are credible. Turnbull's mixed-media national broadband network plan is unashamedly about speed and cost of rollout. Its fingers-crossed attitude towards delivery of a durable investment is worrying, but he's doing little to delay the NBN. Keady's beef on this occasion should therefore be with the source of information she used and Telstra, not Turnbull.

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