Two Top Executives Slam the NBN & Government Involvement

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Two of the most experienced Australian business executives, BHP Billiton chairman Jac Nasser and Ralph Norris the outgoing chief executive of the Commonwealth Bank, have slammed the NBN which is set to cost tax payers $36B.After announcing a rebate on capacity chargers in the early days of the NBN’s establishment, Former Ford CEO Nasser was telling the American Chamber of Commerce audience in Sydney that the $36 billion being spent on the project was not an appropriate allocation of capital in Australia. 

He said “When you try and marry large capital expenditures with a fast-moving pace of technology change, I think that is fraught with risk,” he told an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia event.

“I am always concerned when a project such as this is driven by government rather than private enterprise. I worry about that. Little warning signs come up in my head.”

Ralph Norris, the outgoing chief executive of the Commonwealth Bank, joined the criticism of the NBN saying governments did not have a strong track record of operating commercial ventures. “I’ve never been a great fan of government’s running commercial or business entities,” he told The Australian. “What ends up happening is that they end up getting run on a non-commercial basis.”

Mr Norris said the cost of the NBN was a major investment that needed to be supported by a business case: “As for the NBN, there is a lot of infrastructure being made redundant and you have to ask yourself if that is cost-effective.”

In other NBN news, the NBN Co yesterday rolled out new pricing after protests from a number of ISPs led by Internode’s Simon Hackett.

NBN Co said it now plans to rebate the wholesale charge for the first 150Mbps per month on its Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC) until there are 30,000 premises passed in a connectivity serving area, which connects to a point of interconnect (PoI).

(Service providers will be able to connect to the NBN through 121 PoIs, with each point servicing between 50,000 and 162,000 premises.)

They will still pay the same access charges, which start at $24 a month for a wholesale broadband service designed to achieve 12/1Mbps uploads/downloads.

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