blog The National Broadband Network (NBN) implementation study was full of good news for the Federal Government, but it also contained contingency plans for the case of cost blow-outs or nasty surprises.
The study made three suggestions on how to avert monetary disaster.
The first involved cherry-picking roll-out areas to increase funds rolling in — connecting low cost areas or those where the take-up would be highest.
That sounds good. People might feel discriminated against, but at least it's financially sound.
The second suggestion looked at what to do if no apps surfaced utilising the faster services, hence no one would want the faster services. The study suggested slowing the roll-out in this case until innovation kicked in and the applications came.
Hopefully this won't happen, as it would say terrible things about the level of Australian, and indeed global, innovation. But if it did, again, I can understand this.
Third, if the NBN fell behind time or blew out its budget, measures could be taken, such as using VDSL in apartment blocks or reusing hybrid fibre coaxial cable as an "interim" solution.
This is the one that worries me. Seeing this is a government project, and almost every government project under the sun seems to blow its budget, I can see that these contingencies are likely to be needed.
But given cost blow-outs, the price tag could still be the same. Are you going to be happy to pay $43 billion, or even $26 billion, as they now say the government will have to throw in, for VDSL?