One in ten fibre to the node NBN connections is reporting faults

NBN has broken down the over 500,000 faults it received in 2018-19 fiscal year.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

An NBN FttN node getting a Nokia line card installed

Image: Corinne Reichert/ZDNet

The National Broadband Network has broken down by technology the 501,600 service faults it received during the 2018-19 fiscal year, with fibre to the node being the most faulty.

For fibre to the node/basement (FttN/B), the percentage of faults versus activations is running at 10.82%, for hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) it's 9.3%, fibre to the curb (FttC) is sitting at 7.56%, fixed wireless is 8.4%, satellite is 6.54%, and fibre to the premises (FttP) has the lowest percentage with 5.88% of activations reporting faults.

"This number includes instances of reported speed or performance issues, end-user equipment issues, weather, or cases where the service did not work after activation," NBN told Senate Estimates via an answer to Questions on Notice.

Earlier in December, NBN revealed its total number of 501,600 service faults across 5.5 million services active on its network as of June 30.

At the same time, the company also broke down its active services as of October 31 by technology. Of the 6.2 million active services, 877,000 were on brownfields FttP, 473,000 had greenfields FttP, 2.85 million received FttN/B, 1.25 million had HFC connections, and 353,000 used FttC. Beyond fixed line connections, 296,000 premises had fixed wireless and 97,000 were connected via satellite.

NBN also said this week that as of November 5, it has purchased almost 43,000 kilometres of copper cable. The cable is typically used for linking existing pillars and new nodes, NBN said.

"This also includes a significant proportion of specialised copper cable used in the FTTC network construction for short extensions of copper lead-in cables to the FTTC DPU location," the company said.

Over 10% of NBN's footprint remains in the service class zero (SC0) categorisation, it said in response to another question.

As of the end of October, 257,552 premises on HFC, or 10.3% of its footprint was SC0, 8% or 37,493 premises on FttB were SC0, almost 36,000 or 4.6% of the FttC network was SC0, 24,443 or 1.6% of the FttN network was SC0, and 3,413 or 0.2% of FttP was categorised as SC0.

See also: New Zealand 100Mbps fibre plans delivering 99% of promised speeds

NBN noted the high HFC numbers were due to extra work needing to be done on those connections, and the pause it put on HFC in November 2017.

In fixed wireless areas, NBN said its take-up rate in places that have been declared ready for service after 18 months has been 45.6%, and after a further six months, it increases to 46.3%.

"It is important to note that NBN has always forecast a lower take-up in fixed wireless and satellite areas where there is no mandatory disconnection of the legacy services," the company said. "The original forecasts were for take-up to be less than 25%."

For the fiscal year to June 30, NBN revealed it spent AU$50 million on advisors and consultants.

"As part of its commercial business operations, NBN Co engages individual contractors and external legal and management consulting services from time to time," it said.

"Given the large scale but finite timeframe of the nationwide rollout, a consultant can be a more appropriate commercial and specialist choice for shorter-term that would not justify extra headcount."

See also: Australia's NBN a hell of an achievement: Malcolm Turnbull

As of December 9, the company overall had 5,927 employees, and 559 contractors, with 590 employees and 144 contractors in its IT division.

NBN added that 3,000 premises that previously had FttN connections have been overbuilt with FttP connections.

Last month, NBN introduced a number of pricing changes, which included the introduction of 100/20, 250/25, and 1000/50Mbps speed tiers, allowing retailers to pool unused CVC on a national basis, and deciding to add an allowance for TCP/IP headers above its layer 2 remit.

Responding to a Question on Notice, NBN described the new plans as "win/win" for its revenue growth, retailers, and consumers.

"These changes will increase more predictable RSP costs (AVC) and decrease less predictable RSP cost (overage). NBN Co is reducing the price of 100+ plans while configuring them with generous inclusions that can be pooled across all other tiers," it said.

"The end result is ARPU growth that's more predictable and sustainable for both RSP and NBN Co, as well giving customers the opportunity to get the most out of their NBN connection."

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