Turnbull doubts NBN Co's plan is feasible

Turnbull doubts NBN Co's plan is feasible

Summary: Turnbull today has come out swinging at the government's National Broadband Network (NBN) three-year roll-out plan, airing his disbelief that NBN Co can reach 3.5 million premises in the time allocated.


Turnbull today has come out swinging at the government's National Broadband Network (NBN) three-year roll-out plan, airing his disbelief that NBN Co can reach 3.5 million premises in the time allocated.

NBN Co today said that it would in the next three years reach about a third of the premises to be reached in the complete roll-out.

Turnbull has pointed out that NBN Co has been unable to reach the targets it set out in its 2010 corporate plan, although, according to NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley, much of that delay was due to the fact that the necessary deal between Telstra and NBN Co was only finalised earlier this month, much later than it had been intended to be completed.

Turnbull attacked the plan for not forecasting how many households and businesses would actually be able to connect to NBN fibre by 2015, instead saying that work was expected to commence by that date.

"Does it mean that these premises are in a suburb where NBN has actually dug some trenches by 2015? Suburbs where it has painted a few lines on the footpath in one street? Or merely suburbs where NBN Co hopes it might be able to paint a few such lines by 2015?" Turnbull asked.

Turnbull pointed out that in the last nine months, 657 premises were reached, or three premises per working day, while there were 249,600 premises "where work on the network was expected to commence". He said that if the same ratio occurred for the roll-out detailed in the plan detailed today, only 250,000 premises would be connected by June 2015.

Quigley has previously said that the NBN Co couldn't be considered to be at "volume" roll-out until the Telstra deal had been ticked off by the competition regulator. He said that much of the work the company has done until now has been "invisible", in that there are no premises passed. This included accelerating the construction of the transit network, and building ducts for the greenfields sites. He said it was common for NBN Co to need to construct 6km of ducts to serve one greenfields site.

Because of the delays with the Telstra deal, Quigley has also said that no longer makes sense to refer to the Corporate Plan created in 2010. Quigley said today that he plans to submit a revised corporate plan to the government in May.

Turnbull admitted that NBN Co would likely be able to build out faster than it has been, but he questioned whether NBN Co would be able to increase its pace enough to hit its numbers, which at the peak of its volume roll-out would be 6000 premises per day.

Topics: Broadband, Government, Government AU, NBN

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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  • Fancy Malcolm being negative about the NBN!

  • Turnbull seems to be implying again that this NBN roll out is not fast enough and more people should be connected to fibre quicker… even though according to him these faster speeds are not needed… of course then there is Turnbulls "plan" which means everyone misses out on faster fibre speeds altogether and what you have to look forward to is slower inconsistent speeds at an even later date 2016+.
    Hubert Cumberdale
    • Just because someone is opposed to the NBN does not mean they wish for the NBN to be mismanaged. Whilst the NBN is government policy, it is only fair to assess it's capabilities and whether or not it is setting realistic goals.

      The truth to this is simple: NBN has not met it's goals to date. There are potentially plausible reasons for this to be the case. The are making new estimates. So we shall see soon enough (in the NBN construction timeline) whether or not, the NBN is being mismanaged or not. Turnbull is staking his view one way. Why not just wait and see whether the NBN or turnbull is proven right before coming to conclusions?
      • All empty rhetoric.

        Malcolm is 100% against the NBN and let's be realistic even if the NBN was mostly bad (which it IS NOT imo) there would still be some positives, but not according to MT...

        With every NBN announcement he has something, normally ridiculous and in a lot of cases absolutely incorrect, to say to FUD up the build (and his faithful sheep, with backing by his media mates, swallow it)...

        Keeping in mind, if there are actual delays, they have been caused by situations beyond NBNCo's control (as granted, you infer). But ironically, one being Turnbull and Co forever throwing up every political hurdle they possibly can.

        Nice work eh. Stifle and thus cause delays and then have the audacity to criticise because things may not be quite up to date...!
      • "The truth to this is simple: NBN has not met it's goals to date."

        So why, have they not met their targets? Is it because their workers are slow or unproductive? Is it because they haven't recruited the right management staff. Or is it because they were unable to predict just how unproductive Telstra management are? And the ACCC as well?

        Turnbulls "attacks" are an absolute joke. If he really thinks his job is to monitor the efficiency of this project, he should monitor NBN Co's efficiency. It is a cheap political shot and he should be embarrassed that someone of his business background is completely ignoring the process of a diligent infrastructure project.

        I think Turnbull has been caught up in the negativity and stupidity of his political party. Once a statesman, now, just another one of Abbott's yes(NO) men...
      • "Just because someone is opposed to the NBN does not mean they wish for the NBN to be mismanaged."

        Except if you are Tony Abbott or Malcolm Turnbull. Any perceived mismanagement of the NBN is good news for them, it means they have a better shot at winning the next election and that is all they really care about. It’s certainly not the taxpayers or internet users that’s for sure…

        "The truth to this is simple: NBN has not met it's goals to date."

        If you want to put it in simple terms: The goal is to connect 93% of Australian premises with fibre and the remaining 7% with fixed wireless and satellite by 2021, explain how they have not met this goal? Do you have a crystal ball we should know about?

        "Why not just wait and see whether the NBN or turnbull is proven right before coming to conclusions?"

        You should email this to Turnbull.
        Hubert Cumberdale
  • More Turn-bull(sh**)!!!
    Now that the NBN has access to Telstra's ducts they don't need to waste time on "trenches & painted lines" & can achieve much faster results in those areas.
  • Malcolm in this case is actually being generous to NBNCo in his comment about painted lines. The key quote from the NBNCo Press Release is:
    > Over the next three years, construction of the fibre optic component of the network will be underway or completed in areas containing 3.5 million premises

    Note the use of "underway or completed". NBNCo consider work to have started when they commence "Detailed Planning". Look at Weston, ACT. The detailed design is scheduled to start in September 2015, which means services are expected to be active in September 2016. That sounds like a 4.5 year plan to me.

    If you aren't on the rollout plan now, then the earliest you can expect to see fibre is later than September 2016.
    • Ah the old pedantics and semantics. Out of a multipage document or announcement one or two words are picked out, to suit the FUD cause...

      Nice work, you could certainly get a job with MT, if you don't already have one.
  • MT is spot on in his comments. Building a great new road that whizzes past thousands of side streets without actually providing an on ramp to each cannot be claimed as improving the commute.

    Let's hear a forecast that speaks about actuall properties connected because without critical mass the NBN will fail.
  • Be patient, an Oz wide build takes time (forecast 10 years) yet all the critis want it now.

    Remember not so long ago the catchcry was government monopoly, think about that.

    Ooh and if you want "forecasts" re: property connections, read the corp. plan.
  • Beta - a forecast that holds some accountability for how our tax dollars are being spent is not an unreasonable request.

    So far the NBN has not delivered anything that justifys the proposed spend. Particularly if you view the choices being made about which public program's are cut to ensure Wayne and Jooliar their so called economic imperative budget surplus.