Turnbull today has come out swinging at the government's National Broadband Network (NBN) three-year roll-out plan, airing his disbelief that NBN Co can reach 3.5 million premises in the time allocated.
NBN Co today said that it would in the next three years reach about a third of the premises to be reached in the complete roll-out.
Turnbull has pointed out that NBN Co has been unable to reach the targets it set out in its 2010 corporate plan, although, according to NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley, much of that delay was due to the fact that the necessary deal between Telstra and NBN Co was only finalised earlier this month, much later than it had been intended to be completed.
Turnbull attacked the plan for not forecasting how many households and businesses would actually be able to connect to NBN fibre by 2015, instead saying that work was expected to commence by that date.
"Does it mean that these premises are in a suburb where NBN has actually dug some trenches by 2015? Suburbs where it has painted a few lines on the footpath in one street? Or merely suburbs where NBN Co hopes it might be able to paint a few such lines by 2015?" Turnbull asked.
Turnbull pointed out that in the last nine months, 657 premises were reached, or three premises per working day, while there were 249,600 premises "where work on the network was expected to commence". He said that if the same ratio occurred for the roll-out detailed in the plan detailed today, only 250,000 premises would be connected by June 2015.
Quigley has previously said that the NBN Co couldn't be considered to be at "volume" roll-out until the Telstra deal had been ticked off by the competition regulator. He said that much of the work the company has done until now has been "invisible", in that there are no premises passed. This included accelerating the construction of the transit network, and building ducts for the greenfields sites. He said it was common for NBN Co to need to construct 6km of ducts to serve one greenfields site.
Because of the delays with the Telstra deal, Quigley has also said that no longer makes sense to refer to the Corporate Plan created in 2010. Quigley said today that he plans to submit a revised corporate plan to the government in May.
Turnbull admitted that NBN Co would likely be able to build out faster than it has been, but he questioned whether NBN Co would be able to increase its pace enough to hit its numbers, which at the peak of its volume roll-out would be 6000 premises per day.