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NBN copper purchase total sits at 16,600 kilometres

Over the five months since its last updated number, NBN has purchased a further 1,600km of copper.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

The company responsible for deploying Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) has provided an updated number for the amount of copper it has purchased for its network.

"As at 22 October 2017, NBN has purchased 16,600km of new copper cable," the company wrote in response to Senate Estimates Questions on Notice published this week. "It is important to note that this cable is largely used for the connections between new nodes and existing pillars."

In May last year, the company revealed that it had purchased 15,051km of copper cabling to that point.

Although its supplier was unnamed in its latest answer, the company's main supplier is Prysmian, which purchases copper from Australia, Brazil, and Turkey.

In its responses, NBN also said that less than one quarter of all premises on its fibre-to-the-node (FttN) network will be capable of receiving 100Mbps at the rollout's completion. This figure makes FttN the lowest-performing fixed-line solution, with fibre to the premises (FttP), fibre to the basement (FttB), fibre to the curb (FttC), and hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) capable of giving all homes 100Mbps speeds, according to NBN's figures.

Fixed-wireless would also have a higher percentage of users capable of hitting 100Mbps, with half of its users reaching those speeds. Satellite was the only technology to have no chance of serving 100Mbps to customers, with zero customers on that technology able to hit the speed in question.

NBN said its number did not account for limitations in purchased CVC by retailers or speeds being limited by user equipment, and its estimate was for after the migration period, where VDSL and ADSL do not need to coexist on the network.

"For FttB, these proportions represent the capability of NBN equipment up to the building's Main Distribution Frame (MDF), and do not account for degradation due to customer cabling between the MDF and end-user modem," the company said.

The company also said that once an area is declared ready for service, it projects to have one quarter of users in the area on the network, with 40 percent active after six months, 56 percent active at the 12-month mark, and 74 percent of connections in an area active after 18 months, when the migration period ends.

Of those areas that have exited the migration period, the area with the lowest uptake in the nation is Tennant Creek, with only 39 percent of premises connected, while Katherine and Cairns also fall into the bottom 10 areas at 55 and 58 percent, respectively.

For areas that top the list for highest levels of uptake -- which range from 84 to 89 percent -- Victoria has four areas in the top 10, followed by Queensland with three, and New South Wales, the ACT, and Tasmania with one each.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Australian government released its response to the joint standing committee on the NBN, and dismissed most of its recommendations.

"The government is disappointed that after considering 191 submissions, holding 15 public hearings, receiving testimony from 179 witnesses, and undertaking three site visits, the committee's majority report and recommendations indicates a failure to understand the fundamentals of the NBN," the government's response said.

"The prominence given in the majority report of the committee to the stories of dissatisfied consumers distorts the perception of the success of the NBN."

Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland called this response "incredibly disappointing", and accused the government of rejecting "the middle ground".

"The government has arrogantly dismissed the pragmatic pathway recommended by the NBN Joint Parliamentary Standing Committee to deliver more fibre and less copper," she added.

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