NBN Co slightly exceeded the politically divisive target that it set to have National Broadband Network (NBN) construction commenced or completed at 758,000 premises by the end of 2012.
The company said today that construction work had commenced or been completed at 784,592 premises by the end of 2012 — 26,592 more than the company had forecast in its corporate plan.
In a statement, NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley said that the results show that the NBN is ramping up to a full-volume rollout.
"I particularly thank our network planning and design team, our contract managers, and our construction partners for their efforts. By working together to achieve this year-end outcome, the combined project team has established the settings to reach the peak rollout target of passing over 6,000 premises a day by 2015," Quigley said.
The use of the term "commenced or completed" to describe NBN's goals has been criticised by Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull on several occasions. The term is used to define when NBN Co issues contract instructions to contractors for a particular fibre service access module (FSAM) that covers between 2,000 and 3,000 premises.
It can be several months before actual construction in those areas commences, because the contractors need to design, survey, and inspect the existing pit and pipe infrastructure before rolling out the fibre to those areas.
In March last year, Turnbull said that the metric was "Orwellian" in representing NBN Co's achievements.
"It's a very slippery use of language. In the fibre business, there are really two metrics that are relevant. One is how many premises you actually have connected and are actively using a service, and the other is how many premises you have passed," he told the ABC.
"You may as well say construction is underway for 12 million households. It's this Orwellian language; they're not being straight."
Acting Communications Minister Kim Carr said that Turnbull had questioned in February last year whether the goal was achievable.
"In February last year, Malcolm Turnbull expressed disbelief at this ambitious target," Carr said.
"He told Sky News that it was 'an extraordinary promise' and that 'there'll be a lot of admiration' for NBN Co if it was achieved.
"It's not often I get to acknowledge Mr Turnbull's prescience, but I'm delighted the opportunity has arisen for him to fulfill his commitment. I look forward to him praising NBN Co's achievement."
NBN Co has set the target of completing all necessary construction for 286,000 premises by the end of the June 2013. By the end of 2021, 93 percent of the Australian population will be in the fibre footprint for the NBN if the project reaches completion.