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NBN "hopelessly behind" on plan's targets: Liberal MP
10/08/2012 - The head of the national broadband network would probably have been fired if the project was funded by the private sector, says a federal Liberal MP with senior experience in the telecommunications industry.
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Paul Fletcher, who was director of corporate and regulatory affairs at Optus for seven years, says the rollout of the $37 billion project might have been shut down or seriously scaled back.
He was reacting to the NBN Co's latest corporate plan, which reveals a cost blowout and lower-than-projected connections.
The plan confirmed what objective observers had long suspected, Fletcher said.
"NBN Co is hopelessly behind the targets set in its first corporate plan" he wrote in The Australian Financial Review on Thursday.
The first plan had promised that by June 30 this year there would be 317,000 premises passed or covered on the fibre network. The actual number is 39,000.
"If NBN were funded by private sector investors, the CEO would probably have been fired by now," Fletcher said.
The MP predicted taxpayers would have to fork out $30.4 billion in equity contributions by 2018, an increase of almost $3 billion on what was projected in the first plan.
Optus and Telstra had rolled out their HFC networks to more people and at considerably less cost during the 1990s, he said.
The government and NBN Co have said the project is behind schedule because of delays in the regulator's approval of a deal with Telstra.
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