NBN construction just resting, not ended

NBN construction efforts over January slowed to just four brownfields fibre serving areas having building instruction notices issued, but NBN Co has said that it expects construction to kick back up in the next few months.

NBN Co is expecting construction for the fibre-to-the-premises network to kick back into gear in the coming months after a slow start to 2014 due to the construction industry shut-down period.

Weekly rollout map data updated last week and posted on Whirlpool by NBN blogger jxeeno revealed that new build instructions for brownfields areas for the National Broadband Network (NBN) in the last month totalled just four, all located in Victoria.

This led to some on the site claiming that the network construction had been slowed while Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull instructed NBN Co on a new path forward for the NBN, which will likely see much of the fibre-to-the-premises plans for brownfield areas replaced with fibre-to-the-node construction.

A spokesperson for NBN Co confirmed to ZDNet that construction had slowed over the Christmas and New Year's break as a result of the industry shut-down period, and that construction efforts for the network would ramp back up in the coming months.

NBN Co executive chair Ziggy Switkowski highlighted in December that in revising the premises passed forecast for June 2014 down from 450,000 brownfields in November to 357,000 brownfields premises in the strategic review, NBN Co was taking the Christmas shut down into account where he believed it hadn't been in prior announcements.

"You cannot take 5,000 homes passed per month and not allow for the fact that from the middle of December to the middle of January the industry shuts down. There is 20,000 off your number to start off with," he said.

Turnbull has vowed to honour the existing construction contracts that NBN Co signed with its construction partners prior to the election, provided that those companies are able to meet their obligations under the contract. Those agreements will run out this year, by which time NBN Co will likely have developed its plan to implement the Coalition government's new broadband policy.

While construction hasn't commenced in many places in January, the construction of the network has continued. According to the stats released last week (PDF), from January 1 until January 19, the network has passed an additional 10,353 brownfields premises for a total of 283,527 passed and 198,796 premises able to order a service.

The Senate committee overseeing the National Broadband Network will hold two hearings in the coming days, with one scheduled for Wednesday in Perth, and a second hearing in Hobart on February 4.

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