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Thursday, 07 March 2019 10:21

Ex-PM wades into unfamiliar waters again – technology

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Malcolm Turnbull appears to be trying to stay relevant after his tenure as prime minister ended. Malcolm Turnbull appears to be trying to stay relevant after his tenure as prime minister ended.

Malcolm Turnbull is talking about technology again. Yes, that same Turnbull who gave us the multi-technology mix — or Malcolm-technology mix, take your pick — and also fibre-to-the-node.

The same man who decided to retain the ageing HFC network to supply broadband so that the rollout could be done cheaper and faster. That's a move which has certainly turned out well.

But this time he's been dealing with weightier matters and advising the UK to follow Australia and ban Chinese companies from a role in the rollout of 5G networks. He was giving a speech — presumably for a fee — to the Henry Jackson Society, a neoconservative British foreign policy think-tank, in London on Tuesday.

There were some rather startling claims made by Turnbull, but then that should come as no surprise to people who have seen him in action Down Under.

For one, he repeated the falsehood that there will be no separation between the core and the radio access network in 5G, a claim that has also been spouted by the head of the Australian Signals Directorate, Mike Burgess.

"Network function virtualisation and mobile edge computing means processing, or intelligence, will be distributed throughout the network, and the old distinction between the core and the Radio Access Network ( or edge) will no longer be applicable," Turnbull said.

But last November, a 5G trial in Auckland conducted jointly by Huawei and New Zealand telco Spark, showed that this claim was just that – a claim.

The trial used a Huawei 5G NR (New Radio on both the C-band and mmWave) and a 4G Radio Access Network, both of which were deployed by using dedicated hardware connected to the Cisco Evolved Packet Core, with each component isolated.

Turnbull also claimed that Australia's decision to ban Huawei and ZTE from playing a role in 5G networks was "not because another country told us to let alone for protectionist reasons, but to defend our own sovereignty and to hedge against changing times".

Sure. Pull the other one, Malcolm. Anyone who has lived in Australia for some time, knows that it strains the imagination to think of any decision like this being taken without American intervention.

It's interesting to note that some others are pushing the same line – "we acted on our own, the Americans did not influence us".

Once politicians leave the stage, they want to stay relevant by commenting on things, mostly about which they know nothing. Turnbull would do well to learn from the example of Paul Bremer, overseer of the American invasion of Iraq and a bungler of no small proportions.

As Peter Maass pointed out in The Intercept, Bremer wrote a memoir after he got back from Iraq and then, when that did not sell well, turned to painting and then became a ski instructor.

Turnbull might like to consider something similar. After all, he hails from a wealthy suburb, one where these hobbies are probably very popular.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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