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Get your numbers right, NBN Co tells Economist

What’s a few million households between friends?

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The Economist Intelligence Unit, which The Register had reason to criticize back in February, is still on the attack regarding Australia’s planned National Broadband Network.

Touting the latest edition of its nearly-$AU3,000 international broadband study, the EIU pulled out the “screaming red” headline stop, labeling Australia’s NBN as “the most extreme” example of government intervention in the world of broadband.

The outfit, which similarly panned the NBN in the last release of the study in February, says that at $AU27.1 billion and passing 7.45 million households, the network is the most expensive in the world on a per-household basis.

However, NBN Co, the company building the network, has fired back, criticizing the EIU’s data and assumptions. General manager of communications, Andrew Sholl, told The Register that the report is “mired in ideology”, and is making “no effort to whatsoever to understand why Australia is taking the approach it is.”

Scholl continued: “They also seem to have made the rather unfortunate error of mislaying several million homes and businesses.

“The authors … claim the NBN will cover 7.45 million Australian households; in fact, it will cover 13 million premises by the time it is complete. That puts a big question-mark over their assumptions.

“They also overlook the fact that Australia is more than three times the size of all the other top-ranked countries combined, that facilities-based competition in telecommunications has failed repeatedly here, that the NBN is already encouraging retail competition and even that the NBN will deliver a return to taxpayers.

“The report should be judged on its merits,” Sholl concluded.

Greens senator Scott Ludlam has also weighed into the debate, saying that "if the Economist Intelligence Unit keeps publishing these wild-eyed neoliberal rants they may need to change their name to something else".

The Register has invited a response from the EIU. ®

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