Should NBN Co be reporting more frequently?

Should NBN Co be reporting more frequently?

Summary: The outside disclosure of the number of premises that NBN Co has passed with fibre has revealed that NBN Co isn't being completely transparent.


Devoted NBN's rollout figures have shown that NBN Co is providing more information to the industry than it is to the public at a time when it said it would be too difficult to provide more frequent updates on how many premises have been passed by the National Broadband Network (NBN) fibre.

The figures do not paint the rollout in a good light, with just over 1,400 brownfields premises passed between the end of December 2012 and March 12 this year. It calls into question whether NBN Co would be able to ramp up from 47,511 to its target of 286,000 brownfields premises passed by the end of June.

Devoted NBN pulled down the figures on Monday afternoon. ZDNet has learned that this wasn't at the request of NBN Co itself, but from Nextgen Networks, which is Devoted NBN's wholesale provider.

NBN Co told ZDNet that "customers and their resellers all have a responsibility to treat confidential information accordingly".

But the release shows that NBN Co's claim to the Senate Estimates committee in questions on notice in February did not provide the whole picture. In response to a question on how many had signed up in Tasmania in the last 12 months, NBN Co said:

"Now that NBN Co has reached volume rollout, it is impractical for NBN Co to provide ad hoc updates on financial and deployment metrics to a level of granularity not already provided for in public releases, parliamentary reporting processes, and regular rollout information provided on our website for the use of access seekers."

The data provided to the retailers is fairly granular, and not something that is available to the public, in contrast to the company's assertions that it couldn't provide this sort of information now.

Many have questioned whether more frequent construction updates are required, but the fact that retailers are given more information about the status of the government's project than the general public is not a good look for a government-owned company that has defended its claims of being as transparent as possible with the public.

When NBN Co begins to hit peak rollout, and — as outlined in the corporate plan — is passing thousands of premises per day with fibre, the weekly or monthly updates will become less important. But while NBN Co continues to lag behind schedule, the company really ought to take ownership of the delays and be transparent as to the reasoning behind them.

Topic: NBN


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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  • U want more than a 3 monthly report!

    No need for any more what is you want hourly/daily/weekly/monthly reports minute to the minute countdowns to when the NBN will arrive at your place.
    There is a lot of interest in this project if everybody wants so many reports, I can't see any problem at all with the existing structure it's far more onerous reporting structure than any government project yet seen it's quarterly.
    How many Freeway, tunnel projects, desalination plants, power station builds have you ever seen with any sort of reporting structure other than the "WE'RE FINISHED" report. Can't imagine if the Snowy mountains scheme built over 22 years if Labor had opposed it and demanded daily reports on rock volumes moved and bayed at the moon every time the schedule fell a bit behind which it did with great frequency.

    It's quite clear at this time the roll out is going to be slow the hard digging work has only been going for 18 months and most of the early digging has been service installations (buildings control rooms etc) and backbone fibre.
    There are less than 1000 persons involved on the house to house connection phase with that number the rollout could take 20-30 years but the numbers will be built up over time noses can't be twitched and Samantha can't instantly have 5000 guys doing this job. but given the no of guys working costs are going to be lower as there are less guys employed at this stage.
    Can't follow the coalitions plot at all, "We don't need any fibre wireless is good enough, ADSL2+ is good enough (at this stage all they are offering is the universal service obligation of 12Mbs and that's what Mals cost forecasts are predicated upon) and now they are at the VDSL fudging stage (VDSL is going to require 4 times the number of cabinets 8 times the volume of fibre pull throughs, both Mals deployments and costs are going to be subject to the same parameters to the existing NBN if they proceed with FTTN and VDSL).
    Can't understand why when we don't need the "RIDICULOUS" speeds of the NBN (can remember when Mal ran Ozemail thought the market for 512K broadband was minuscule and dialup was adequate for the populations needs)why all the are crying about the rollout being so slow, it's going to cost a lot more to do it quicker.
    All construction projects have exponential deployment rates all have weather delays and 100% have cost blowouts and time delays. My house built 22 years ago was forecast to cost $48,000 and finished at $65,000 and the 3 month building cycle ran out to 6 months.
    Every construction project starts with optimistic projections, if they didn't they would never be started.

    Of course the early costs look a little high as few services are connected but a fair bit of the infrastructure required to support the house to house connections have been built, also the harder and more expensive rural areas are being prioritized.
    Kevin Cobley
    • Well yes, but the

      genesis of all this progress reporting comes from the start up of the company and the roll out schedule required by the owner.
      I agree more frequent reporting will just waste time, money and focus. I would like to see evidence NBN Co are actively working with the contract organisations to overcome problems that may not have been considered at the begining of the roll out. Afterall they did trial roll outs in selected places, was nothing learnt from that exercise?
      Knowledge Expert
  • The reality

    is the far worse than anticipated state of Telstra's underground assets, they quit maintenance to maximise dividends, problem with Business management Guru's and Accountants and economists controlling a technological cornerstone of our economy, failure to understand the core foundations.
    Crippling the Rollout

    It is going to be a circus watching the LNP do their FTTN in 1/3 the time for 1/3 the cost with such crappy underground infrastructure.

    Howards legacy and impractical fanatical ideological obsessions will continue strangling Australia for decades.

    Just incapable of accepting the practical reality of horses for courses
    Abel Adamski
    • It already is

      A circus.

      Poor planning = poor result

      Instead of blaming contractors and Telstra NBN co would be better served by long hard look in mirror.
      • You again Sultanabran

        How about some detail around your comments as opposed to an ad hominem attack?
  • Waiting waiting

    The contractors are left just waiting for Telstra to remediate the pit's and ducts BEFORE they can commence rolling out fibre which costs them money and time.
    As Telstra and the NBN have a contractual relationship and an effective partnership, the NBN cannot place a large part of the responsibility where it belongs, those of us who are not bound by those contraints must bring up the facts
    Abel Adamski
  • Completely Agree With Kevin

    What is your beef with the NBN Josh?? Have you ever actually run a project of any decent size??

    Chat to a few Project Managers, Program Managers/Directors and then write your article from an informed position