PM pledges to push ahead with NBN

The PM has promised that his government will deliver a National Broadband Network after

the long-awaited study into the viability of the NBN was released along with 84 recommendations.

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They included boosting plans to cover 90 per cent of the population to 93 per cent.

The $25 million study, by consultants McKinsey and KPMG, said the government should maintain full ownership until the rollout is complete and that the NBN would deliver the government a commercial return of $40 billion within the next 15 years.

Mr Rudd said the study’s findings confirmed the NBN was financially viable and would deliver affordable prices to consumers.

“The implementation study shows the National Broadband Network can be done and we are absolutely committed to it,” he told the Melbourne Press Club on Thursday.

“We are committed to a National Broadband Network because fast and affordable broadband is the only way we’ll be able to compete with economies in our region like Japan, like Korea, like China.”

Earlier on Thursday, Opposition broadband spokesman Tony Smith said the government’s broadband plan was a reckless use of taxpayers’ money.

Mr Rudd issued a challenge to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

“Let’s see your broadband plan, let’s see how you would do it,” he said.

“In two-and-a-half years of opposition, our opponents haven’t offered any concrete alternative plans.”

The study said the NBN could be built for between $38 billion and $43 billion without Telstra and with greater coverage.

However, it says the government should strike a deal with Telstra in terms of sharing the infrastructure, reducing costs.

It was originally suggested that 51 per cent would be funded by Government.

Win, win situation: Conroy

Announcing the study, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy spoke of a potential ‘win, win’ situation.

The study includes plans for the NBN to be boosted from covering 90 per cent of the population, to 93 per cent, and its cost will peak at $26b.

The study, from McKinsey and KPMG, reports that the government should keep hold of full ownership until the rollout is complete. Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner today spoke of ‘explicit plans’ to privatise the network in coming years.

Costing $25 million, it’s been released two months after being received by the federal government. Deliberation was put down to the issue of Telstra involvement, and Canberra was looking at whether the deal could go ahead without the telco.

Breaking a deal with Telstra – and therefore the use of its valuable network infrastructure – was something ministers had hoped for.

Political fight could ensue

The issue of Telstra has dominated, and has led to political disagreement.

“It was commissioned on the basis that no deal with any other telecommunications company [would be made], Telstra included,” Conroy told the ABC in March. “It’s not tied with any outcomes of negotiations with Telstra.”

The Coalition has said it would scrap the NBN, and the the report has been the cause of disagreement between the government and the Greens- right up to the final hurdle.

“If he (Conroy) wants to bring the Telstra debate back on the same day (as the study comes out) you’d hope that the rest of parliament would be given the opportunity to read the document rather than it being tabled five minutes before it resumes,”Senator Scott Ludlam said.

This morning, Prime Minister Rudd said that government was determined to build a national broadband network -or NBN – and ‘will not let anything get in its way’

Rudd said people are ‘crying out for effective high speed broadband.’ first services will be delivered ‘in just a few short weeks, in July’

Announcing the report, Conroy said the market has failed to keep pace with the rest of the developed world, and an NBN should be a ‘top priority.’

Costs for the consumer should be around $30 to $35 a month for a basic service, the report said.