NBN's EBITDA worsens to AU$1.57b loss

NBN's revenue has increased alongside its EBITDA loss, ARPU, capex, opex, and number of active premises as the network rollout intensifies.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

The company rolling out Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) has announced its financial results for the 2016 financial year, reporting earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) of negative AU$1.572 billion, a 39 percent increase from last year's negative AU$1.13 billion.

Revenue for the 12-month period was AU$421 million, a year-on-year increase of 157 percent from the AU$164 million announced in FY15.

Average revenue per user (ARPU) was AU$43, a AU$3 increase from the AU$40 reported last financial year.

The number of active premises grew by 613,019 over the period, from 485,615 to 1,098,634, while premises ready for service grew by 1.68 million, from 1,213,391 to 2,893,474.

NBN reported 822,652 active end users on fibre to the premises (FttP) as of the end of June; 119,694 on fibre to the node (FttN); 117,514 on fixed-wireless; 38,764 on satellite; and just 10 customers on hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC). Premises ready for service, however, numbered 1,381,800 for FttP; 662,729 for FttN; 420,524 for fixed-wireless; 409,959 for satellite; and 18,462 for HFC.

Operating expenditure was reported as being AU$1.99 billion during this financial year, while capital expenditure reached AU$13.6 billion over the life of NBN to date as of June 30.

A breakdown of revenue saw NBN earn AU$225 million from FttP, up from AU$93 million last financial year; AU$10 million from FttN, up from nil; AU$27 million from fixed-wireless, up from AU$10 million; AU$10 million from satellite, down from AU$12 million; AU$131 million from CVC/NNI, up from AU$46 million; and AU$18 million from other, up from AU$3 million.

According to NBN's capex breakdown by technology, HFC cost AU$448 million over the year, up significantly from AU$48 million; FttN cost AU$1.668 billion, up from AU$334 million; FttP cost AU$1.078 billion, down from AU$1.692 billion; satellite cost AU$135 million, down from AU$247 million; fixed-wireless cost AU$354 million, up from AU$340 million; transit cost AU$252 million, up from AU$233 million; and common capex reached AU$734 million, up from AU$434 million in FY15.

The cost per premises (CPP) of rolling out the network is now AU$4,411 for FttP brownfields; AU$2,608 for FttP greenfields; AU$2,257 for FttN; and AU$3,359 for fixed-wireless.

There are now 25,000 activations made per week, according to CEO Bill Morrow, who added that the state of the legacy copper network "only requires modest remediation".

Morrow also announced that the second satellite, Sky Muster II, will be launched on October 4 from French Guiana.

NBN now has a net promoter score (NPS) of +20, Morrow added.

A joint statement between Communications Minister Mitch Fifield and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann hailed the results, saying they prove the Coalition's multi-technology mix policy is a success.

"This level of revenue growth could only be achieved because the NBN is being connected to more premises more quickly than ever before," Fifield and Cormann said.

"NBN had a target of 2.632 million homes ready for service -- they beat that target by over a quarter of a million premises. NBN had a target of 955,000 premises activated -- they beat that target by over 100,000 premises.

"The cost of living matters to the Coalition, so the government has instructed NBN to continue rolling out the network as economically as possible. This is in sharp contrast to Labor's latest broadband policy that would have added AU$8 billion more to the cost of the NBN network."

CFO Stephen Rue said NBN is "currently looking at funding options" for when allocated government funding for the broadband network runs out.

Tying in with a report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) last month, NBN's financial results also showed that speed uptake on its fixed-line services has seen 49 percent of customers choose speeds of 25Mbps download and 5Mbps upload; 32 percent choose 12/1Mbps; 14 percent select 100/40Mbps; 4 percent choose 50/20Mbps; and just 1 percent of customers choose 25/10Mbps.

Across the fixed-wireless network, 81 percent of customers selected 25/5Mbps; 16 percent chose 12/1Mbps; and 3 percent chose the maximum 50/20Mbps.

Over the last year, NBN has launched its FttN network and the first of its two AU$620 million Ka-band satellites, which began offering commercial services in late April; trialled fibre to the distribution point (FttDP) across the country; launched two HFC networks; and doubled the speeds attained across its fixed-wireless network, from 25Mbps to 50Mbps.

Morrow on Tuesday said that NBN is "committed" to rolling out DOCSIS 3.1 across its HFC network, as well as adding FttDP into the technology mix once it has graduated from the trial phase.

NBN's half-year results announced in February saw a net loss of AU$1.24 billion on revenue of AU$164 million and EBITDA of negative AU$688 million.

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