A popular millionaire technology entrepreneur behind the Australian opposition's flagship revised plan for a national high-speed internet service is a not-so-secret weapon in an Saturday's federal election.
Malcolm Turnbull, former Liberal Party leader and the communications spokesman for the Liberal-led coalition, which is expected to be the runaway winner in the vote, is well-liked by both business and the public.
A former lawyer, Turnbull earned his technology stripes as a major investor and chairman of OzEmail, an internet service provider that became the first Australian tech stock to list on the Nasdaq in 1996.
He was ranked 197 on a Business Review Weekly (BRW) list of Australia's rich, with A$186 million, in 2010, though Turnbull denied the BRW figures.
More left-leaning than his successor as party leader, Tony Abbott, Turnbull is consistently chosen in opinion polls as the country's preferred leader over his right-wing boss, with his appeal extending to swing voters.
Turnbull's cheaper, slower alternative to the current government's A$34 billion National Broadband Network (NBN), however, is significantly less popular.
"What they are trying to do is offer us a bag of lollies (sweets) by saying we can do it cheaper and faster, but what we are really being sold is a lemon," said Mike Gregory, a telecommunications lecturer at Melbourne's RMIT university.
Turnbull's plan would halt the current rollout of the fibre-to-the-premises network that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has promised will deliver internet speeds of up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) to 93 per cent of Australian premises, 8.5 million of them, by 2021.
By June this year, delays meant just 163,500 premises had been hooked up to the network, which takes a fiber-optic cable direct to households and businesses. If completed, the network would be one of the most advanced in the world.
Turnbull has instead proposed a A$30 billion fiber-to-the-node network. Under this plan, high-speed fiber would be laid to streetside "nodes", but the final connection to homes and businesses would rely on Telstra Corp Ltd's ageing copper wires, with much slower download speeds than fiber.
This method, the Liberal Party says, would provide 25 Mbps minimum by 2016 and 50 Mbps for the