Revealed: NBN Co scales back fibre rollout

NBN Co is now only expecting to roll out fibre to 20 percent of Australia premises, down from the 22 percent in the Coalition's 2013 election policy.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

NBN Co has informed customers that only around 20 percent of its network is now expected to be fibre to the premises.

In a presentation delivered to NBN Co's wholesale customers on Tuesday last week, and obtained by ZDNet, the company revealed the estimated breakdown of what premises will receive what technology under the new multi-technology mix model that Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull directed NBN Co to begin working on last week.

According to the document, 20 percent of premises will receive fibre to the premises, while 46 percent will receive fibre to the node or basement, with 28 percent using the existing hybrid-fibre coaxial networks and 6 percent will use the satellite and fixed-wireless networks.

Image: Screenshot by Josh Taylor/ZDNet

The 20 percent of premises is down from the 24 percent proposed in NBN Co's own multi-technology mix model in the NBN Strategic Review released last year, and down from 22 percent outlined in the Coalition's 2013 election policy.

The result means that of the 2.89 million that could have obtained fibre to the premises under the revised policy, only 2.4 million will now get fibre to the premises. An estimated 400,000 would now miss out on fibre to the premises.

The old date on NBN Co's statement of expectations
Image: Screenshot by Josh Taylor/ZDNet

The FttN/B rollout appears to have expanded by 2 percent, according to the figures, and as Turnbull said last week, the expansion of the fibre to the node network will allow NBN Co to reduce the number of premises on the fixed wireless and satellite networks by 1 percent.

Update: After this story was published, NBN Co said that the slide was an "administrative error" and that the original estimate in the NBN strategic review was the correct percentage.

The document also reveals that NBN Co had expected its new Statement of Expectations to allow the company to begin implementing the multi-technology mix model a full week before it was announced by Turnbull last week. According to a slide, the letter of the Statement of Expectations is dated March 27, 2014, and not the April 8, 2014 date when Turnbull actually issued it.

Turnbull has faced criticism since issuing the new statement of expectations to NBN Co allowing the company to pursue the Coalition's multi-technology mix model for the NBN despite the results of the government's cost-benefit analysis having yet to be released.

The slideshow also reveals NBN Co will, as previously reported, easily exceed its 357,000 brownfields premises passed target for the end of June 2014. NBN Co is currently tracking to pass around 400,000 brownfields premises by the end of June, and around 102,214 greenfields premises, with a total of around 596,000 premises covered by the network, including fixed wireless.

NBN Co is also estimating that by the end of the year, when NBN Co's legacy fibre construction contracts run out, the fibre network will reach 550,000 brownfields premises, meaning NBN Co is only expecting to pass an additional 150,000 brownfields premises in the last six months of this year.

The slides also point out that NBN Co will now be focusing on "premises serviceable" rather than "premises passed", indicating that the company may soon only report on premises that can actually order a service from NBN Co.

The company is also working to increase the number of serviceable premises from 11 percent as of November 2013 to 50 percent by June 2014.

NBN Co is also in consultation with retail service providers for ideas on product constructs, speed tiers, voice services, and how NBN Co's pricing charges should work.

NBN Co's business products will also be launched later this month, according to the slides.

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