Vint Cerf calls for clarity in NBN cost data


Google VP urges Australian Government to develop global case study.

Google chief internet evangelist Vint Cerf, credited in some quarters as the “founder of the internet”, has called on the Australian Government to provide a full and frank breakdown of the costs of building the National Broadband Network.

A detailed report on the costs, provided at the conclusion of the project, could greatly aid and inform attempts by other countries to build national network, Cerf said in a new interview.

In an in-depth interview with Kim Chandler McDonald, Cerf said he would "find it extraordinary if the Australian Government would be willing to share what the costs turned out to be.

"The reason for that is, it might encourage others, or at least give us a real data point so that if we want to do what you’re doing, we will all - the US and elsewhere - know what we’re getting into.

"This could be a dangerous thing. If it turns out that its all a cock-up of some sort, if it costs more than was expected and it doesn’t get done, then nobody is going to want to talk about it. I understand that. But I am increasingly confident that you’re going to pull this off successfully. I sincerely hope you do.”

Vint’s comments followed his attendance at the recent OECD Conference in Paris, which was also attended by Senator Stephen Conroy, Australia's Minister for Communications.

Conroy has never publicly wavered from his assurance that the NBN is "financially viable" and "will deliver broadband to all Australians.”

The Google VP approved of the Australian Government’s decision to fund the fibre network. The capital cost investment, currently estimated at $35.9 billion,“is the kind of infrastructure investment that would probably never be made by the private sector," he said.

In a private sector build, "there would be parts of the community left out, and there would be economic decisions that would reduce capacity," he said.

"This is a very big deal. I’m hoping that it all works out. If it does, it would be an example of why government investment in fundamental infrastructure is so important. “

Cerf said Google is doing its part to discover the costs and benefits of ‘fibre-izing’ a community, and will make that information publicly available.

“We’re going to fibreize Kansas City. Its not as big as Australia but its our attempt to do the work. We will expose what the problems were, what was easy, what was technically hard and what was fiscally expensive.”

Click here for the complete interview with Vint Cerf.

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