Minister for Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy and the national broadband network (NBN) are misleading Australians about the pace of the high-speed network's rollout, opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull says.
"What the NBN does, and this is, I think, a deliberate effort to mislead people because it really does mislead people, is they use a metric that is used nowhere else in the industry that I have ever heard of," Mr Turnbull told ABC radio on Wednesday.
NBN Co repeated last week it was on track to meet its target of having work underway or completed for 758,000 homes and business by the year's end.
He said there were two metrics that were really relevant in measuring the progress of the rollout for the $37.4 billion project.
The most relevant one was where premises were actually connected and the other one was where the cable had passed a place, Mr Turnbull said.
NBN Co said last week around 7000 premises were on its fibre network and forecast 54,000 homes would be connected by June 2013.
Telcos such as BT in the UK and AT&T in the US sought to reduce the time spent and the cost of upgrading broadband services in building a fibre-to-the-node network (FTTN), he said.
The coalition's plan for a NBN involved a mix of technologies including fibre, pay-tv cable, copper, wireless technology and satellite services.
A FTTN network would have high-speed fibre cable from the exchange to the node, a cabinet on a street corner, where the rest of the connection would be a fixed copper line to the premises.
"The critical point is the reason why fibre-to-the-node is so much cheaper, and it is generally in developed countries comparable with our own. It is around a quarter of the cost and about a quarter of the time to build," Mr Turnbull said.
Mr Turnbull has been critical of Labor's plan, calling it too expensive and too slow to provide broadband across Australia.
NBN Co is charged to deliver fibre-optic cable to deliver broadband speeds of up to 100 megabits a second (Mbps) to 93 per cent of homes, schools and business by June 2021, with the rest provided by wireless networks and satellite services.
Download speeds under a proposed FTTN network would vary between 25 Mbps and 80 Mbps, depending on how close the premises was to the node's cabinet.