NBN Co under fire for take-up numbers

NBN Co under fire for take-up numbers

Summary: NBN Co has been criticised for including former Howard-government's Australian Broadband Guarantee customers in its number of active services on the NBN.


NBN Co has come under criticism for conflating the number of active services it has by including transfers from the Howard-era satellite broadband program.

Speaking before Senate Estimates last night, NBN Co's Head of Product Development Jim Hassell updated the committee on the status of the roll-out of the Federal government's AU$37.4 billion National Broadband Network. He said that, as of the end of September, work had commenced or completed at 569,000 premises, and that the company was on track to have started work at 758,000 premises by the end of this year.

Within the 569,000 figure, 32,295 of these premises have been passed by the fibre roll-out. The remaining premises passed will be by fixed wireless or NBN Co's interim satellite service. By the end of the year, Hassell said that 54,300 premises will be passed by fibre.

Hassell said that, as of September 2012, the NBN had 24,000 active services comprising of 6,400 active fibre services, 600 fixed-wireless services, and 17,000 satellite services. Hassell said that 10,000 more had signed up for services between June and September.

Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham accused the company of conflating the numbers by including the customers from the now-defunct Howard-era Australian Broadband Guarantee program in the figures. He said that approximately 9,000 of the customers would have come from that program. NBN Co confirmed to ZDNet that these figures were accurate.

Hassell said that the program would now "ramp-up," and said that by June next year, 286,000 premises will be passed by fibre. The company said it expects there will be 92,000 active services by June next year.

Hassell reiterated his comments last week that customers were overwhelmingly taking up higher tier plans for fibre services on the NBN.

44 percent of customers were on 100 megabits per second (Mbps) down and 40 Mbps up service; 32 percent were on 25 Mbps down/5 Mbps up service; 15 percent were on the basic 12 Mbps down/1Mbps up service; 7 percent were on the 50Mbps down/20 Mbps up service; and 2 percent were on a 25 Mbps down/10 Mbps up.

The average take-up rate for services so far sits at 15 percent, but sits as high as 44 percent in the southern New South Wales town of Kiama.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said that the take-up rate would also change after residents learn that Telstra's copper network is being decommissioned, and that they will have to switch to the NBN in order to retain a fixed line broadband service.

Topics: NBN, Government, Government AU


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • I actually saw a bit of this last night. It was quite hilarious watching Birminghum flounder with the satellite numbers. Made an absolute fool of himself. But that's coalition clown logic for you. Apparently even though both parties have the same basic solution of satellite for people living in these areas 9000 premises moving from a slower service to a faster one is a bad thing. lol.
    Hubert Cumberdale
    • Except it is the same service, the NBN satellites not yet launched

      We now see why it's difficult to get NBNCo numbers:-)

      Previously I'd calculated $71k per subscriber (@30th June), we can now correct that figure:

      Taxpayer "investment" in the NBNCo is $965.5m, (13,500 - 9,000) active users (all technologies) @ 30 June. $214k per NBN subscriber.

      Simply amazing!
      Richard Flude
      • No, its already an upgraded satellite service

        First, Richard, the NBN interim satellites offer 6 Mbps service, compared to the 256 Kbps-1Mbps offerings of the past. Those migrated 9000 premises are enjoying this new service level as much as the ones who took up a new service.

        Second, the economics of a ten year infrastructure project will always look ridiculous when you are silly enough to divide the project costs over the first year customers. The Hunter Expressway has cost billions, yet has zero customers! The fact that it will open in 2013 explains this, yet you would characterise the cost of quarrying, pouring concrete and asphalt as wasteful or excessive!

        But troll away as you will, the naysayers who rejected the idea that there was massive demand for bandwidth outside metro areas should be educated at the takeup rates, given that we are still well inside the 24 month pre-existing ADSL contract period for more than half the premises where fibre is available. As premises come off-contract, they will almost all switch to fibre well ahead of the copper decommissioning.
        • The 9000 have been migrated (new equipment) to the interim satellite

          Or ownership moved from the old program?
          Richard Flude
        • "Second, the economics of a ten year infrastructure project will always look ridiculous when you are silly enough to divide the project costs over the first year customers."

          Nailed it.
          Hubert Cumberdale
      • "Except it is the same service"


        "We now see why it's difficult to get NBNCo numbers:-)"

        The only difficulty is with your ability to understand the numbers. Seems you and Birmingham have one thing in common.
        Hubert Cumberdale
        • but, but, but......he's a CIO!!!1

          God help the company he works for, they probably still use dial-up because of it's unbridled cost effectiveness!
  • Average take-up rate for services so far sits at 15 percent

    How is this possible with the supposed demand for "essential" high speed data services;-)

    These 15% will be shouldering quite the revenue burden to generate the promised 7% return. Frankly the business case is dead at this level, taxpayers prepare themselves now.
    Richard Flude
    • Thre may be other factors

      It is not unreasonable to ask the question as to why the take-rate is eemingly low. I suspect that there might be a variety of factors. In Armidale, for example, the NBN trial site went from town through the NW sector and to the Uni (UNE), which is quite a reasonable choice for a trial site. The problem is that the NW sector is very low socio-economic where it could be reasonably expectedc that the take-up rate would be very low. The NBN has now been expanded further across Armidale into higher socio-economic areas where it would be expected that the percentage of up-take would increase. Troube is, there is still not a lot of interest. I live in a street of about 40 homes and I seem to be the only one interested in getting the NBN. I've spoken to quite a few friends who nare tech savvy and they are seeing the same thing - little interest so far in their streets, too. I do not pretend ot have an answer, but at this point interest seems unusually low. I am, however, doing my bit and knocking on neighbours doors trying to encourage them to take-up the NBN. I have heard that copper cable will start to be removed from May 2014. Perhaps, it will take until then for locals to get interested?
      • There are other factors

        Probably the biggest factor is contracts, you have to remember a lot of people are on 12 or 24 month ADSL contracts, so they don't get a lot of choice.

        Then there are the people who believe the Liberal fact-free* smear campaign, and assume the NBN is unnecessary, more expensive, etc.

        And then there are the people who just can't be bothered to change. Human beings are naturally resistant to change, even when they know they'd be better off, and a lot of people still don't know copper will be turned off.

        *less than 0.5% fact per serve
        • "And then there are the people who just can't be bothered to change"

          True, but there is also some confusion, which I forgot to discuss above. Many here believed that, after the cables were laid, NBN would come through and do the installation into the home, afterwhich the home owner would choose an ISP. Turns-out, this is wrong.

          After the cables are laid, each home-owner has to then contact an ISP and the ISP arranges for the NBN to make the installation into the home. I made a mistake about this point and everyone to whom I have spoken was equally misinformed.

          Coincidentally, a letter from the NBN arrived today explaining the correct situation and what needs to be done - nearly 3 months after the cable was laid in my street. If I had known, I would have had it installed 3 months ago :-)
          • Wait for the copper switch-off

            The ISPs are gearing up for the great transition from copper to fibre as the copper (in fibre-supplied areas) is switched off.

            Believe me: the ISPs will be willing and active participants in the migration of their customer base. And that's for the simple reason that if they don't, their customers will go elsewhere.

            That's also going to signal the start of the second wave of completion in pricing, bundling and other inducements. Good times for consumers!
          • Also customers could still be on 12-24 month plans

            So i wonder how many customers are on plans and can't just change to the NBN or how many have a need for it say in 2 years time, when services demanding the need for the NBN are likely to be more common.
            Justin Watson
          • I changed and I'm sorry I did

            First of all I should qualify. I changed from a very bad ADSL service to the NBN interim satellite service. Unfortunately the whole exercise was more or less, 'out of the frying pan and into the fire'.

            I live in the NSW country about 20ks out of Parkes inthe Central West.

            I used to have ADSL but I live about 5Ks from the nearest exchange and the quality of the service was terrible. About the only thing that worked well was Skype.

            If you live that far from civilisation Skype is a wonderful tool that converts simple conversations into social events and goes someway towards making what can be a lonely life bearable.

            When we were told that we qualified to go on the NBN satellite we rushed to do so, excited by the prospect of a much quicker service.

            No one told us that the delay between earth and the satellite and then between the satellite and earth would cause such havoc with Skype making it absolutely unbearable to use. It is so bad that all of our friends have asked us not to call them on Skype, they can't stand it.

            For general use it is really only marginally better than the ADSL service we had and that was pathetic.

            Even in normal Internet use the delay thing is very hard to get used to and I advise anyone who is in the same position, that is having a poor ADSL service, to seriously re-consider any change before moving to the NBN satellite.

            Obviously you can't compare the satellite to fibre but I was told (correction, we've all been told) that the NBN satellite service is much better than the system I was on, ADSL1, and I'm telling you that compared to a friend of ours who gets good ADSL1 service, it definitely is not.

            Depending on the hoops we have to jump through, we are going back to our poor ADSL service.
            Gary O'Connor
          • :(

            As an avid NBN supporter that disappointing to hear Gary...

            This may sound bleedin' onbious, but perhaps contact NBNCo directly (not an RSP) and voice you concerns directly, as I believe the big knobs are getting involved in the early stages to try to decrease/eliminate bugs...so.

            Good luck I hope it works out.
          • Opt In/Opt Out Line Connection

            This is an interesting point about the early NBN installation.
            What I believe Restricted_access maybe referring to is the drop line (the connection from roadside cable to the home).
            Was not the original built process to wait for the home owner to give the OK before the 'drop line' was installed.
            Now the process is to built the 'drop line' and connect it to the outside of the house, as part of the built process. This new way would save time and money once a home owner decided to use an ISP (RSP) to connect to the internet.
    • wasted taxes

      If the NBN is a waste of taxpayers money in some peoples eyes, what are programs like the baby bonus, first home buyers grant etc? We spend a lot more per annum on middle class welfare than the cost of the NBN....

      Clearly Richard is either trolling or very stupid. I don't care which one it is, I just choose to ignore him.
      Justin Watson
  • Pure insanity

    NBN Co are being criticised for including subscribers in their subscription numbers? Did the Liberal who's name I care not to remember give any reason for this criticism, or was it just pure illogical rhetoric?
  • crap

    It is so crazy.. why is every backwater that does not even want it getting it first? what happened to us getting the best return on investment? NBN is signed and sealed but why not put it first in areas that actually can afford it and will use it for stuff other than porn and fps games...