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NBN pauses weekly numbers due to new HFC connection stop

Global chipset supply chain issues somehow restrict the ability to release stats in Australia.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
Image: Chris Duckett/ZDNet

The company responsible for the National Broadband Network has said it will be reviewing its generally reliable weekly release of rollout statistics, as it pinned the blame on the recent HFC pause.

"The Weekly Progress Report (Build) is currently being reviewed by NBN Co for any impacts of the global equipment and component shortage on the NBN HFC network. Publishing of the next Weekly Progress Report (Build) will resume as soon as possible," the company said in an update on its report page.

Curiously, the report does not break down its numbers by technology -- only whether a connection is fixed brownfields, fixed greenfields, satellite, or wireless.

In its first half results delivered this week, NBN said it had just shy of 1.9 million HFC customers active on its network at the end of 2020, with 2.5 premises ready to connect.

In total, it has almost 8 million active connections on its network, and 11.9 million able to connect.

Under its current new HFC connection pause, the company has stopped taking order for premises that are yet to connect its network via the cable technology.

Vulnerable customers would continue to be connected, NBN said in a recent notice, and customers moving into a premise already with NBN over HFC would be fine, as would those needing repairs and replacements on existing equipment.

The source of the pause is a lack of chipsets for its HFC network termination devices, which was pinned on the coronavirus pandemic. Last week NBN was notified the supply chain shortages would "continue for several months".

Shortages are also hitting the likes of AMD.

"We have been monitoring this issue for several months since we first became aware the global shortage of chipsets affecting various industries, including telecommunications. As a result, we have been working closely with our supplier to build up our HFC equipment inventories in our warehouses as much as possible," NBN chief customer officer Brad Whitcomb said at the time.

"We apologise to new customers that may be affected by this global supply chain issue and the anticipated delays. While this issue only affects a small number of potential customers that we anticipated would connect to NBN via HFC, relative to the large number of customers already on HFC, and indeed the entire NBN network, we appreciate that for those impacted this is frustrating."

On Tuesday, NBN reported for the six months to the end of 2020, it had seen a 25% increase in revenue to AU$2.26 billion, which it said was thanks to 660,000 premises joining the network and increased demand for higher speed plans. On the EBITDA front, the company reported AU$424 million, a AU$1.1 billion turnaround on the AU$663 million EBITDA loss reported last year.

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