A study released yesterday endorses the Australian government’s vision of a national broadband network (NBN) and maintains that the participation of dominant state telco Telstra in the US$39 billion project is not needed for the network to be financially viable. Prepared by KPMG and McKinsey & Company, the report contains 84 recommendations for implementation of the NBN, which is expected to bring fiber-optic high-speed services to more than 90% of Australia’s population within eight years. While affirming that infrastructure sharing and similar arrangements with Telstra and other commercial carriers can boost efficiency and reduce build-out costs, the study concludes that the government is financially and technically capable of building the NBN without Telstra’s help and can realize positive earnings by the sixth year. Among other things, the report recommends that (1) the government retain full ownership of the NBN until roll-out is complete to ensure that competition and policy objectives are met, (2) entry-level wholesale prices be set between US$27-$32 per month for basic voice and broadband services at download speeds of 20 Mbps, and (3) NBN fiber facilities be extended to cover 93% of the population by 2018. The government will accept public comment on the report through May 27 and is expected to issue a response by mid-year. As communications minister Stephen Conroy proclaimed that the study “confirms that the government’s [NBN] is achievable, viable and will transform life and business in Australia,” a spokesman for Telstra said his company would consider the study’s findings “in detail.”