NBN switched on for 35k, 57k to go til June

NBN Co's updated reported figures for the number of customers hooked up to the National Broadband Network (NBN) as of December 2012 show a steady increase in the number of users getting on board.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

The latest figures out from NBN Co show 34,500 customers connected and using services on the National Broadband Network as of December 2012, but the company will have to exceed its own connection goal in order to meet its June 2013 goals and have an extra 57,200 customers on the network.

The figures, released today, show that in the last three months of 2012, 10,500 new customers connected to the network, up from 24,000 connected as of September and up from 13,600 as of June last year.

NBN Co said that of this figure, 6,600 are on the fibre in brownfield — or existing premises — while 3,800 are in new housing developments. A total of 23,100 are on NBN Co's interim satellite service, while 1,000 now are connected through the fixed-wireless long-term evolution portion of the network.

The service is available to 46,100 residents in brownfields, and 26,300 in greenfields. This means that NBN Co is seeing approximately 14 percent uptake in both types of premises.

The company aims to have 91,700 customers connected by June this year, with 54,000 on fibre and 37,700 on either satellite or the fixed wireless service. The fibre service should be available to 286,000 premises by the end of June this year, the company has estimated.

The company will be needing to add approximately 9,533 customers per month, or 316 customers per day (including weekends) to the network between January 1st and June 30th in order to meet its goal. NBN Co's corporate plan, which lists working days as 250 per year, estimates that in the 2013 financial year, 201 customers will be connected per day. At the peak of the rollout in the 2016 financial year, NBN Co predicts connecting an average of 6,083 premises per day.

NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley said that the results reflect progress in the rollout at this early stage.

"As can be seen by our targets, this rollout is not a linear progression, but a rapid ramp-up. We are targeting to pass more premises in the final quarter of the financial year than we will have passed in the entire project up to the beginning of that quarter," he said in a statement. "Additional construction resources will be added over the coming months to help achieve these targets."

The figures come as the existing copper network in a number of the early rollout locations is set to become decommissioned, and will be deactivated as of May 2014.

Earlier this month, NBN Co said it surpassed its 2012 target for the number of premises where construction work had commence or had been completed, reaching 784,600 instead of the target of 758,000.

In a blog post yesterday, Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull criticised the timing of the release of the figures, and suggested that NBN Co was still a long way off meeting its June targets. He said that NBN Co had expanded the satellite footprint to connect more customers, and was offering retailers AU$108 per customer connected to boost the figures in the first half of 2013.

The Australian reported on Saturday that retailers were being offered the payment to encourage their customers to take up fibre or wireless services on the NBN between now and the end of June.

NBN Co confirmed to ZDNet that the payment is a one-off and is "only available in limited areas where the trial is underway".

NBN Co declined to comment on Turnbull's statement.

The connection figures — which are rounded to the nearest 100 — are being released every six months by NBN Co.

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