Budde barney over NBN blowout

Consultant predicts network could tip $80 billion

Telecommunications analyst, Paul Budde, has slammed comments by a rival consultant that the National Broadband Network (NBN) could cost in excess of $80 billion.

The NBN will make available Internet access speeds in excess of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) to 93 per cent of premises in the country using fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) technology with a maximum cost of $43 billion, buoyed by some $26 billion of taxpayer funds.

Budde, a pro-NBN industry analyst, said the suggestions were “idiotic”, and questioned the motivations of the consultant, Malcolm McKenzie, who made the remarks to ABC Radio National's Background Briefing program today.

ABC News listed McKenzie as an “experienced industry consultant and project manager”.

"I would say for any project this size, [a cost blowout of] 50 per cent to 100 per cent would not be unrealistic," McKenzie told ABC News.

Budde said the claims are overblown and appear politically-motivated.

“There are plenty of people in the ATUG (Australian Telecommunications User Group) and the AIIA (Australian Internet Industry Alliance) who know what they are talking about,” Budde said.

“I have never heard of the good-guy McKenzie. He comes out of the blue [and says that] Australia companies start a project that is prone by storms and floods and bushfires but no, they are so incredibly stupid that they don’t take that into account.

"Those [companies'] plans are contingencies. They have built roads and railways for hundreds of years.”

Communications minister, Stephen Conroy, told media at a press conference announcing the footprint plans of the NBN that the project was on schedule regardless of weather or other external factors. He also told Sky News reporter, David Speers, that telco analysts were estimating the project would come $6 to 8 billion under budget.

Budde expects to see some hitches in the massive network build, but said it would likely be under than over budget.

Computerworld Australia has contacted McKenzie for comment.