Rollout not slowing down as NBN Co quietly smashes targets

July's target of 357,000 premises passed for NBN Co will be beaten in a canter, as the company has delivered its highest monthly set of premises passed results for March.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

For the first time in the National Broadband Network's existence, over half a million Australians are now considered passed or covered by the network.

The latest set of weekly rollout numbers distributed by NBN Co show that 512,659 premises are considered passed or covered by the NBN, with 166,642 premises activated on the network.

For existing "brownfields" premises, just under 341,000 premises are considered passed, with 246,073 able to accept an NBN fibre connection, leaving just under 95,000 premises needing extra work to be able to connect to the network. The number of active FTTP brownfield connections on the NBN currently stands at 74,456.

In the case of new "greenfields" developments, 93,897 premises and lots are passed, with 36,570 active connections.

Fixed wireless coverage on the NBN now covers 77,806 premises, and 11,673 services taken up.

The number of satellite customers on the NBN has been slowly trickling down from a peak of 44,447 users in January as NBN Co has stopped accepting new satellite users due to capacity restraints on the satellite's currently being used prior to the launch of NBN Co's two Ka-band satellites in 2015.

Click to enlarge.(Image: Chris Duckett/ZDNet)

While the ramping up of construction is currently below the levels needed to pass the Malcolm Turnbull's original target of 450,000 brownfields premises covered by the fibre network at the end of June, the company is on target to smash its low-balled target of 357,000 brownfield premises passed.

In fact, from March 3 until March 31, the NBN Co added an additional 33,014 brownfield premises to its network — easily the best month for increased coverage the network has seen.

If the same run rate for March were to happen in each of the three months remaining until June 30, NBN Co would fall a mere 10,000 brownfields premises shy of its original 450,000 target.

The noticeable triumph for NBN Co since its weekly updates began after the election of the Liberal Government last year, has been the steady decline in the proportion of premises that are considered service class zero, which means that although the premise is passed by fibre, additional work is needed to be able to activate a connection, such as cabling required for an apartment block.

Image: Chris Duckett/ZDNet

At the end of June 2013, 34.08 percent of brownfields premises were considered service class zero, and in the nine months since, that proportion has been reduced to 27.83 percent at the end of March.

Although it is only a reduction of 6 percentage points, it equates to an extra 20,000 premises that are today able to activate an NBN FTTP service.

Throughout the opening three months of 2014, only 14.44 percent of premises passed by NBN Co and its contractors were considered Service Class Zero. During that time, NBN Co passed an additional 67,782 premises, of which 9,791 needed extra work in order to activate a service.

As the NBN fast approaches the time where the rollout will switch from its current pure FTTP rollout for fibre services over to the mixture of technologies model favoured by Coalition communications spokespeople for two decades, the uptake of NBN services has continued its steady rise.

Image: Chris Duckett/ZDNet

At the start of March, of the brownfields premises considered serviceable, the percentage that had activated the NBN broke past 30 percent. Similarly, greenfields uptake percentage has hovered just shy of 40 percent for the past month, and wireless has moved from 6.87 percent at the start of July last year to 15.92 percent last week.

Far from being in the middle of an Ministerial-mandated shutdown as some NBN commentators would have one believe, the NBN is actually being rolled out at a velocity not seen thus far in its existence.

That the prospect exists for the network to potentially to meet its discarded 450,000 target shows how the outlook for the network has improved.

This week saw the overall addition of 23,562 premises to the network, giving NBN Co its best week since the end of September last year.

NBN Co has progressed a long way since the Christmas/New Year break when the only change in brownfields passed figures was the removal of 59 premises from the total.

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