iiNet 'furious' with lethargic NBN roll-out

As iiNet grows its customer base with the roll-out of the National Broadband Network, the company's CEO says he is "furious" at the progress of the roll-out to date.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

As iiNet pushes organic customer growth through the roll-out of the National Broadband Network (NBN), CEO David Buckingham is 'furious' that the fibre project isn't rolling out quicker.

According to the company's results, iiNet holds over 20 percent of the NBN market, with 65,000 customers on the NBN as of the end of June this year.

Buckingham had flagged in the company's annual results today that the company's push in the NBN market in places it was available had seen its customer base steadily increase with over 50 percent of customers on the NBN new to iiNet.

But the progression of the NBN remains a concern for Buckingham. Although Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has allowed the fibre roll-out to continue for the time being, reviews and overhauls of NBN Co, and renegotiations with Telstra to access the company's copper and HFC networks for fibre to the node were frustrating iiNet, Buckingham said.

"We're furious about it," he said.

"NBN needs to get on with the roll-out. We're sick of waiting. Speed up their operational roll-out, speed up negotiations, they really need to speed up everything. They really need to start unleashing the plan that they keep putting in front of us," he said.

Buckingham joined Vodafone CEO Inaki Berroeta in criticising the government for the payments being made to Telstra at a time when the incumbent is more profitable than ever.

"I looked at Telstra's results the other day; I must admit I was pretty pessimistic for the rest of the day. When a company can make AU$7.5 billion in free cash more profit than the cashflow the whole Vodafone group made last year, and still get paid AU$640 million by the government for the NBN, things are weird in my mind," he said.

At Telstra's results last week, CEO David Thodey indicated Telstra and NBN Co had developed a framework for the renegotiated deal that would likely see Telstra hand over ownership of the copper and HFC network assets to NBN Co at no additional cost from the original AU$11 billion NBN deal.

The NBN is a money maker for iiNet, too, however, with Buckingham stating that the average revenue per user on the NBN is between AU$65 and AU$70 for NBN customers — some of the company's highest returns.

Those customers on the NBN were also using more than those on ADSL, with a 50 to 60 percent increase in usage on the NBN.

"We're seeing great results when the customers get on. They're loving the high speeds."

Over 70 percent of the company's customers were on plans higher than the entry-level 12Mbps plan, with Buckingham indicating that 40 percent were on 25Mbps, with around 15 percent on 50Mbps, and the rest on 100Mbps.

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