Advisory firm finds NBN plan "reasonable"

By Ry Crozier on Feb 15, 2011 5:31 AM
Filed under Communications

Full report stays secret.

Corporate advisory firm Greenhill Caliburn has branded NBN Co's three-year corporate plan and its underlying assumptions as "reasonable" in a mostly confidential assessment handed to the Federal Government.

The firm was engaged to conduct an independent review of the NBN Co plan at the end of last year.

At the time, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that the Government would not make public the full text of the Greenhill assessment.

He made good on that pledge today by releasing only an executive summary of the report [pdf].

"In general, key assumptions underlying revenue and cost projections appear to be in line with a range of available domestic and international benchmarks, and are consistent with the stated policy objectives of the Government with respect to the NBN," Greenhill Caliburn stated.

"Accordingly, we believe that the Corporate Plan provides the Government with a reasonable basis upon which to make commercial decisions with respect to NBN Co."

However, Greenhill said upfront that its report was "not intended to be and does not constitute a recommendation to the Commonwealth with respect to the NBN or NBN Co in any form, including with respect to approval or adoption of the Corporate Plan."

And it made a raft of recommendations that the Government carefully monitor NBN Co - particularly "during the early stages of the project when key decisions are made" - to ensure the Commonwealth "will be able to identify adverse trends and agree modifications to the Corporate Plan accordingly."

"The objective is to ensure the Commonwealth receives regular updates so that it is at all times aware of NBN Co's performance relative to the original and latest agreed Corporate Plan, as well as NBN Co's views on the immediacy and relative impact of the risks that NBN Co is managing as it develops and manages the NBN," Greenhill said.

Greenhill recommended a regime of quarterly and annual reports from NBN Co to shareholder ministers and the establishment of an "investment committee" within the Commonwealth, "staffed consistently with representatives with appropriate expertise levels in order to best preserve an ongoing relationship with, and institutional knowledge base of, NBN Co."

Conroy said the Government would "work closely with NBN Co to put in place agreed performance indicators to track its performance and adjust strategies or operations as needed."

Some of the risks outlined by Greenhill were average revenue per user (ARPU) assumptions based on customer take-up, the proportion of homes that opt for mobile-only connections to the internet, and the impact of legislation that was still before the Parliament.

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Advisory firm finds NBN plan "reasonable"
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