NBN nears halfway point as 5 million premises ready for service

NBN has announced making 5 million out of 11.9 million premises ready for service, with Sydney's North Shore, Devonport, Coober Pedy, and Yarra Glen some of the areas made ready during the last few months.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

The National Broadband Network (NBN) company has announced making 5 million premises ready for service as of Wednesday morning, with the company attributing the increasingly rapid rollout to its hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) and fibre-to-the-node (FttN) deployments.

NBN told ZDNet that some of the areas that have become ready for service over the past few months include HFC and FttB in Neutral Bay, Cremorne Point, and Kurraba Point, New South Wales; FttN in Devonport, Tasmania; FttN in Yarra Glen, Victoria; FttN in Coober Pedy and Roxby Downs in South Australia; FttN in Kojonup, Western Australia; and HFC in Inala, FttN in Middlemount, and FttN and FttP in Roma, Queensland.

As of Wednesday, NBN said premises ready for service number approximately 1.57 million in NSW; 1.11 million in Victoria; 1.04 million in Queensland; 513,300 in Western Australia; 410,191 in South Australia; 235,452 in Tasmania; 88,645 in the Northern Territory; and 67,209 in the Australian Capital Territory.

While NBN is making 250,000 premises on average ready for service each month, premises signing up with retail service providers for services number 130,000 per month.

"We are building the NBN network and activating end users faster than we have ever done before, and are currently making over 60,000 premises serviceable each week," said NBN chief network engineering officer Peter Ryan.

"We have the flexibility and the right technologies in place to design and build the network at the speed and scale needed to reach our end goal by 2020."

Both HFC and FttN involve making use of networks that are for the most part already in existence -- HFC via the cabling put in place by Telstra over a decade ago, and FttN via Telstra's legacy copper networks between node and premises -- although NBN earlier this month revealed in Senate Estimates that it has purchased 15,051km of copper to build more FttN and that a portion of its HFC will be new cabling laid by NBN.

Since publishing its 2017 Corporate Plan last year, NBN has also shifted 1 million premises from its FttN and not-fit-for-purpose Optus HFC footprints to fibre-to-the-distribution-point (FttDP) connectivity, which makes use of less existing infrastructure and could take longer to deploy.

NBN plans to activate 8 million premises by 2020, with 11.9 million to be ready for service by then.

"While any large-scale infrastructure project will present its challenges, NBN is working with our partners to provide a positive experience on the NBN network for all Australians," the company added on Wednesday.

NBN had earlier this year warned of possible civil works disruptions after announcing it will begin building in major cities this year, with much of the disruption to occur as NBN gains access to pits and existing infrastructure within high-density cities.

"As the NBN network rolls out into cities, we will be met with new problems to solve," NBN CEO Bill Morrow said at the time.

"The intensified deployment will present challenges, but the NBN team, along with our partners and retailers, is focused on a positive experience for customers and end users as we accelerate the build and connection rates to new records."

Some of the cities in which NBN will begin construction or switch on its network in 2017 are Sydney, Campbelltown, the Hills District, Warringah, and Randwick, New South Wales; Brisbane, the Gold Coast, and the Sunshine Coast, Queensland; Hobart, Tasmania; Fremantle and Bassendean, Western Australia; Salisbury and Onkaparinga, South Australia; and Moonee Valley City, Boroondara City, Casey City, Glen Eira City, and Knox City, Victoria.

NBN has been attempting to improve consumer information on its website, this month adding speed advice on its website and in February adding a new functionality to its rollout checker that allows consumers to find out when they can contact RSPs to connect their premises to the network.

This followed NBN adding "ready for service" areas to its rollout map in November, and enabling all consumers to search its rollout map for when they will be connected and by what network technology -- except premises being serviced by HFC -- in December.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the Australian Department of Communications published far more extensive information on NBN rollout statistics by electorate in March, however.

The document provides exhaustive details on when each region within every electorate in Australia will have NBN build commence and by what network technology, as well as how many premises are ready for service, have an active NBN connection, and will be reached by the NBN.

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