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  • Opinion, Telecommunications - Written by on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 12:32 - 104 Comments

    Tick tock, NBN Co. Where are the rollout stats?


    opinion By continually declining to release hard statistics about how the rollout and uptake of its network are proceeding, the National Broadband Network Company risks portraying itself as exactly the kind of negligent and overly bureaucratic monopoly which the Federal Opposition has long accused it of being.

    On quite a few occasions over the past several months, I’ve given the good spokespeople at NBN Co a quick call. After the usual pleasantries between professional colleagues have been exchanged – Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, how are the children, you know the kind of thing – I have raised the same topic with them. Given that NBN Co has not released any hard data about how the rollout and uptake of its network are progressing since the end of September, I have asked, when is NBN Co planning to update Australia on how the network build and uptake are progressing?

    The reason I have repeated this question so often is simple. The fate of much of the whole NBN rollout, especially when it comes the fibre network which will make up the bulk of its network infrastructure, hangs in the balance right now. With Opposition Leader Tony Abbott having repeatedly threatened over the past several years to wind the project back, and many other senior Coalition figures also having expressed substantial doubts over that time regarding its usefulness, it remains likely at this point that if the Coalition takes power in the upcoming Federal Election this year, the NBN as a whole will be substantially modified or cancelled wholesale, especially if it has not rolled out its network very widely.

    Those in favour of the NBN project – which at this point, is most Australians – can take some glimmer of hope for its future from the on-again, off-again enthusiasm which Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has had for the deployment of fast broadband solutions in Australia. But it is still a fact that even if Turnbull does agree with the aims of the NBN initiative as a whole, he disapproves in practice with much of the plan for achieving those aims. And there is no certainty that Turnbull would actually hold the post of Communications Minister in an Abbott administration – or if the rest of a future Abbott cabinet would support him to maintain the superstructure of NBN Co as an organization and the bones of the project as it stands.

    Then, too, despite the self-congratulatory media releases issued wholesale by NBN Co (PDF) and the Government earlier this month regarding the claim that the project achieved its aim of commencing or completing construction of its fibre network to some 758,000 premises by the end of 2012, there is still very little hard, public evidence that the rollout of the NBN is proceeding as planned.

    NBN Co itself admits the 758,000 figure is calculated based on how many contract instructions – mere paperwork – have been issued to NBN Co’s contractors, not when construction is actually measured to have begun in streets and under them, in ducts underground. It should be self-evident that paperwork does not a network make.

    NBN Co’s last set of hard stats – released in early October, covering the quarter before that period – show that the network rollout is making very slow progress. Since NBN Co was formed in mid-2009, the company at the end of September had deployed fibre to just 52,000 premises, and signed up just 6,358 premises for actual active services from that total. And the rollout, at that stage, was still proceeding very slowly on a quarter by quarter basis. In the three months to the end of September last year, NBN Co completed construction to just 13,000 additional premises (bringing the total to 52,000) and signed up just 3,500 new customers for active services.

    Things are going a little better when it comes to the satellite and wireless portions of NBN Co’s network, with some 17,000 total customers having signed up for NBN services in that period. However, here the public has no idea how many customers have signed up for each different service (satellite or wireless), as NBN Co refuses to break out totals for each, despite the fact that the pair represent completely different technologies and deployment styles. Satellite and wireless are not comparable services and should not be lumped in together.

    Now, in the grand scheme of things, as I have previously written, such statistics mean less than nothing. The NBN is a decade-long project, and uptake statistics in its first year are, frankly, not that important when you consider that the vast majority of Australians will be forced to take up the NBN eventually in any case, as the NBN will functionally replace the copper and HFC networks operated by Telstra and Optus. Eventually, almost every Australian will adopt the NBN – it’s just a matter of time.

    But in the context of the upcoming Federal Election, which will decide the future of the project, and in the context of trying to devise what kind of company NBN Co is becoming, hard rollout statistics matter a great deal right now.

    The question Australian voters are faced with right now is whether or not NBN Co is delivering on its aims. Did the company, as it claims, ramp up its rollout speed dramatically in the fourth quarter of 2012, so that it now has construction activity taking place at a rapid clip in locations right around Australia? Is NBN Co staunchly on its way to meeting its target (PDF of the company’s corporate plan here) of having completed construction to some 286,000 fibre premises around Australia by the end of June? Is the company currently signing up new customers at a rapid pace, in line with its plans to have some 44,000 customers signed up by that same date?

    Personally, I believe that NBN Co is making the progress it’s supposed to be towards those aims. Almost every executive or lower level worker I have met from NBN Co – and I’ve met a lot over the past several years – has been a highly ethical, hard-working, highly professional individual, and normally quite underpaid for the work they’re doing.

    But right now, NBN Co is constantly stonewalling all attempts by outsiders to get more information on how its rollout is going.

    When I requested updated rollout statistics on the company’s network in early December, I was told the company only releases that information quarterly, and that I would have to wait until it was ready to give the information out. When I filed a Freedom of Information request for that same information, I was told I would have to wait until 11 February 2013 – two months after I made my initial Freedom of Information request.

    When I requested updated rollout statistics in the first week of January, as per NBN Co’s quarterly reporting schedule, I was told I would have to wait for that information.

    When I requested updated rollout statistics in the second week of January, as NBN Co claimed victory on its self-defined “premises commenced or completed construction” measure, I was told that I would have to wait for that information.

    When I requested updated rollout statistics today, in the fourth week of January, again I was told that I would have to wait for that information.

    My question to NBN Co is: How long is the Australian public going to have to wait to find out how fast the company is actually rolling out its network? Will I be forced to file another Freedom of Information request to find out how far NBN Co progressed on its network rollout over the three months to the end of 2012? Will I then have to wait another two months for that information to be tabulated and supplied to me? Will we only find out what NBN Co did in the last quarter of 2012, at the beginning of April? Will journalists have to start playing this FoI game with NBN Co continually over the next year, just to find out how its network rollout is going?

    If you believe NBN Co, the company is currently attempting to tabulate and confirm rollout stats for the last quarter of 2012, in an effort to ensure they are accurate. If you believe NBN Co, that information will shortly be released for public consumption and debate.

    However, it beggars belief that NBN Co would need to take more than three weeks to tabulate that information, following the conclusion of the final quarter of 2012. I have no doubt that NBN Co’s IT systems are more than capable of providing an up to the minute figure at any time for how many users are actively connected to its network. Any modern telecommunications company should be able to provide that information after a simple database query of its customer records. If NBN Co can’t do that, then its IT managers are, frankly, incompetent.

    It beggars belief that NBN Co is not able to coordinate its contractors and staff well enough to be able to consolidate information from across the nation as to how many premises it had completed construction to by any given period. I am sure that NBN Co’s contractors are issuing the company with weekly updates on their construction efforts, if not daily. Any modern construction effort should hold that information as a matter of course. I am 100 percent sure that NBN Co’s top management, including chief executive Mike Quigley, receives almost daily updates from across the company on the construction of its network. This is, after all, its only real benchmark. To get that network built. If NBN Co can’t generate this information internally on a week by week basis, then its project managers, are, frankly, incompetent.

    You would think a company of almost 1,700 staff should be able to manage to do these things.

    I will note again, as I have written previously, that I personally believe that the NBN policy is the best telecommunications policy which Australia has seen at least over the past decade and likely before that. It’s a very good policy which will deliver massively improved service delivery to Australians, stimulate the digital economy (as much as I hate that phrase), deliver long-awaited restructuring of the telecommunications industry and even make a profit for the government.

    However, the longer NBN Co declines to act in a transparent way about the construction of that network, the more doubt in the company’s ability to deliver on its promises I have. NBN Co’s recent move to make its head of construction redundant (the second time it has lost a construction chief in several years, as well as a whole bevy of other senior staff) has only added to this doubt. While I approve of the NBN policy, as regular readers will know, Delimiter is an evidence-based site, and before I pronounce judgement on any given issue, I need to examine the evidence to determine what conclusions to draw.

    The Australian public is investing tens of billions of dollars in the construction of the NBN. Our taxpayer dollars are going directly towards funding it, and the project represents the future of telecommunications in Australia for the next half-century. NBN Co has no right to withhold information about how its network construction effort is progressing; especially when it has previously stated that it would provide that information on a quarterly basis. Let it do so.

    2013 is the pivotal year on which the NBN’s whole future balances. Let’s hope that the next few weeks see the company turn over a new leaf and start to provide more regular updates on its progress in meeting its stated aims. Because I will assure the good folks at NBN Co of one thing. If the company does not open up and start providing that information, I will continue to file Freedom of Information requests with NBN Co until the public’s right to know is met. The secretive Federal Attorney-General’s Department has some experience in dealing with pesky journalists seeking to dig up basic information which the public has a right to know. I suggest NBN Co consult with AGD and other government departments to get a feel for just how persistent the media can be.

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    1. Nobby6
      Posted 22/01/2013 at 12:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I always maintained NBN Co. is just another fancy name for Telstra MK II (and their pricing sure as hell proves that) … and every day it continues to live up to my expectation.

      • jasmcd
        Posted 22/01/2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

        It could easily become Telstra MKII if the government in power at the time remove the obligations that have been imposed on NBNco.

        As it stands, being wholesale only, they have zero percent market share of the residential market, selling their product to RSP who then inturn charge residential and business customers.

        There is designated ROI which they need to meet, which means technically any earning above the ROI would be reinvested in faster deployment or cheaper plans. However I have seen other governement bodies overcome such limits by implementing an “emergency fund” which can grow to ridiculous levels as profits are reinvested and managed.

      • RocK_M
        Posted 22/01/2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

        @Nobby6: Why would you be looking at the NBN’s pricing? Someone feel free to correct me but to a customer wouldn’t the ISP pricings be more relevant? Seeing as NBN’s pricing is for the wholesale side and has nothing to do w/ the commercial subscriber rates ISP’s will be using.

        Unless of course you run your own ISP then feel free to continue =P

      • NBNAccuracy
        Posted 22/01/2013 at 1:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

        “(and their pricing sure as hell proves that”
        How do you figure that? The prices are lower than what Telstra charges for ADSL2 and back haul by quite a bit. They are regulated so the prices are frozen for some time yet. Can only increase them by 1.5% if they have to and are going to be reducing the CVC over time.

        What part of the pricing do you feel (or indeed know, if what you say is based on a fact and not FUD) is too high?

      • Androo
        Posted 25/01/2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink | Reply

        I remember back in the early 80’s, requesting a phone line re-connection to the rental home we had just moved into.
        4 months later the phone was reconnected for around $350 (probably worth $3000 in today’s money). Typical of a company infected with a public-service cancer that cannot be purged until the host is dead.
        Government controlled communication systems will always end in disaster! I have never used Telstra since Optus arrived in Australia. I am filled with a forboding sense of doom whenever I reflect on the NBN (Telstra MK2)

        • Posted 25/01/2013 at 5:26 pm | Permalink | Reply


          I remember back in the early 80’s, requesting a phone line re-connection to the rental home we had just moved into.4 months later the phone was reconnected for around $350

          Actually, it still costs that today….little less actually, $299.

          Typical of a company infected with a public-service cancer that cannot be purged until the host is dead.

          So….Telstra is infected with a public-service cancer then?….

          Government controlled communication systems will always end in disaster!

          Really? You’d better tell that to France Telecom…..and Deutchse Telekom…..and NTT DOCOMO…..

          I am filled with a forboding sense of doom whenever I reflect on the NBN (Telstra MK2)

          Actually, that’s not possible. Telstra aren’t vertically separated (yet)- they provide both wholesale and retail services over the same network- that’s the problem with the communications network in this country, a Vertically integrated monopoly. NBNCo. ONLY provide wholesale. It’s not possible for them to become a Telstra. In fact there are many examples of Wholesale monopolies being very efficient.

    2. jasmcd
      Posted 22/01/2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

      When was the end of quarter information due exactly?

      If it was at the beggining of December, then there is little excuse. The roll out statistics should have been released. If the quarter was to the end of December, to pluck a figure, say the 15th onwards, I still can understand the delay. Assuming their aren’t political reasons, such as needing to release the figures to the senate commitee first before releasing them to the media, NBNco should be geared up to release the stats within 4 working weeks of the end of quarter. But obvioulsy the longer they take to release information, the more people will believe they are trying to hide something.

      As for the FOI, the fact that he NBNco response is simply “you have to wait” is definately disappointing. If they provided a better reason, such as

      “the raw data is published monthly, you already have access to the information you seek.”

      At least that would be a valid reason no to provide the information.

      • Posted 22/01/2013 at 1:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

        They release the data at the end of each calendar quarter, although I’ve committed to asking them for it on the 1st of each calendar month:


        It is a common misconception that the raw data is published monthly. That data relates to connections expected to be completed, not actually completed connections. And it does not refer to active services.

        • djos
          Posted 22/01/2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Hi Renai, while not not quite the same thing as the stats you are after but the Rollout maps have been updated in the last day.

          eg Adelaide Maps:

          Adelaide OLD: https://www.dropbox.com/s/fdyo2lktgwkitqc/NBN_Map_Adelaide.PNG

          Adelaide New: https://www.dropbox.com/s/3nsyysmls12cfk8/NBN_Map_Adelaide2.PNG

          I take heart in the dramatic increase in construction sites that are now active but would like to see the info you are after also.

          • Posted 22/01/2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Confuses me as to why these maps aren’t updated constantly, live. NBN Co has ~ 1,700 staff. Surely it’s not too hard.

            • Michael
              Posted 22/01/2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

              There’s no reason NBNCo would have live rollout statistics; that’s not how contracting this sort of stuff out works. They tell the contractors to go and roll out to this service area and come back when it’s done, at which point it is ready to connect. So it’s either “planned”, “with the contractors” or “completed”. They obviously do keep up with how things are going in practice, but there’s certainly not going to be any more detail than that in public rollout maps. Interfacing this stuff with Google maps isn’t easy, either. I guarantee you it isn’t automated.

            • JayZ
              Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Good lord Renai..so what if NBN co have 1700 staff. Telstra has many fold that number of stuff and is incapable of performing the simplest of tasks.

              With all due respect I think you are crossing the “troll” line a little with the constant requests to NBNCo on a weekly basis for the information. I agree having an exact date would be great but the reality is VERY few corporations operate like that. I don’t see repetitive articles written every time Telstra fails to do what they are supposed to do in a daily basis.

              I thoroughly enjoy your site but the constant anti NBNco articles of late are starting to tire, especially with this expectation of some kind of “live” running meter counting the connections!

              • Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

                No worries, I understand your frustration. I see it as an important issue, but I’m aware that not all the readers agree it’s important. I’ll try and keep the tone non-sensationalist and try to find a reasonable middle-ground.

              • Fred
                Posted 28/01/2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink | Reply

                I believe it is an important statistic for an entirely government run company. We have a government promise and a legal right to transparency and they aren’t fulfilling these mandates.

                To not release this information shows that either their staff are incompetent/lazy, or that they don’t want to release this information because it will harm them or the federal government (don’t bite the hand that feeds you).

                • NBNAlex
                  Posted 28/01/2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink | Reply

                  Everyone agrees Fred.

                  It”s just that some of us expect NBNCo to deliver the info on time – if not, why not?

                  Then there are others who believe NBNCo should deliver all info, to anyone, immediately… which realistically is going overboard, IMO.

          • tinman_au
            Posted 22/01/2013 at 4:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

            I went and had a look at the updated maps for the Gold Coast, and my area is no longer listed as “Construction commences within one year” :o(

            • Haderak
              Posted 23/01/2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink | Reply

              Maybe the staff scheduling your rollout had to be reassigned to the FOI response department ;)

              • tinman_au
                Posted 24/01/2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink | Reply

                If they have office staff trying to help out with installs, you might be right ;o)

            • SMEMatt
              Posted 23/01/2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink | Reply

              If it makes you fell better the local NBN office here isn’t in the roll out area, one of our warehouses is around the corner from them, thankfully I have a wireless link from there to a site that is due to be connected “soon”.

        • Kevin Davies
          Posted 23/01/2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink | Reply

          Pushy aren’t you? :-) You will just have to wait, like the rest of us. I am kind of glad they don’t release monthly figures. I reckon they should only do it half yearly. Every time they burp Malcolm misrepresents what they say so why make a noise at all. Just say “Its progressing…” then cough up stats every six months. I mean its taxpayers money they are wasting collecting all that information then verifying there is nothing too dramatic. It takes time to cover your ass :-)

    3. Stirling
      Posted 22/01/2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

      While I support the NBN policy clearly they are avoiding providing the facts here…

    4. Michael
      Posted 22/01/2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I would encourage you to make those FoI inquiries. Do it through righttoknow as well so we can follow along.

      There is absolutely no “compiling” or “tabulating” excuse for premises passed and premises connected

      Premises connected = billable connections, NBNco would have know this at all times otherwise they could not bill RSP’s.

      Premises passed = the number of RFS addresses. This data is provided live to RSP’s and is “compiled” each time a service qualification is run. To find out number of premises passed you just need to change the “SELECT * ” to a “SELECT COUNT(*)” in the query.

      Both these metrics should be live and on the front page of the nbnco website. Failing that I think you have grounds for a FoI request as both metrics are clearly “existing documents”. Also consider the effect of a delay like this in an election year. Last years Jan-Jun quarterly report wasn’t tabled in parliament till October. With a likely Aug/Sep election wouldn’t a delay like that be an awfully convenient way to dodge the Jul premises passed target.

      • Posted 22/01/2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I may start to use Right to Know for my enquiries — it’s a very good site for public transparency. Been investigating it recently.

        • tinman_au
          Posted 22/01/2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Perhaps worthy of an article?

          I have to admit being curious about it, and what folks have been using it for.

    5. Kevin Cobley
      Posted 22/01/2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I Don’t care at all about Quarterly updates when they are released no matter how late they will show what has happened in in the quarter September to December.
      Is the writer suggesting the Quarter results are late because NBN Co is adding January 1-22 to the December Quarter to fudge results?
      Three weeks after the end of the Quarter is nothing to jump up and down about (it’s also the Christmas/new year holiday break).
      What does the writer think they are hiding? When the results actually come out as they will, will he still think they are hiding something?
      Has the writer got a “Fox Mulder complex”, the truth is out there!!!!!!!
      Do you want a daily/hourly updated numbers like those “donation thermometers” on the front page of the NBN co website so the write can complain about the slow progress in up Upper Boggabri.
      I don’t see the point of these complaints abut numbers, would the Snowy Mountains scheme been done better if we had daily/weekly/quarterly stats on tonnes of rock removed and meters of concrete laid.
      All Australians care about is getting it built over the next 10 or 12 years, it’s pretty clear the copper is toast.

      • Soth
        Posted 22/01/2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

        The first paragraph answers your questions…
        “By continually declining to release hard statistics about how the rollout and uptake of its network are proceeding, the National Broadband Network Company risks portraying itself as exactly the kind of negligent and overly bureaucratic monopoly which the Federal Opposition has long accused it of being.”
        It’s just giving the opposition more cannon fodder to fire over and convince voters who might be on the fence about who they will be voting for.

      • Michael
        Posted 22/01/2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I am a big supporter of the NBN project, but it’s very clear from the current situation that all is not well at NBNCo.

        It takes over 12 months for “commenced” areas to actually be ready for service. Everything is pointing to bad news.

        • Chris Watts
          Posted 23/01/2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink | Reply

          A big supporter? Your words belie that.

          I am a bit tired of people either willfully, or through naivety, criticising NBN for the time frames that it takes to undertake construction (or even to spend vast amounts of money) for this project. 10 years is not a long time to spend $36 billion, particularly when it is as complex as this.

          12 months is also not a long time for a construction contract to be executed. Give me a break

        • Nobby6
          Posted 23/01/2013 at 5:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Indeed, NBNCo are the first ones out there smothering all the media with PR hype when they want it to be there way, but ignore the media when it does not suite them.

          So we already have the answer to the questions, when asked about stats, they not here once again beating their chests like proud gorillaz because they just cant bring themselves out from their caves to do so when they are so far behind and with little uptake.

          Perhaps if they had not spent an in-your-face massive national prime time advert campaign at end of last year using yours and my tax dollars, they could have hired another 40 odd contractors for a year with that same money and just might, possibly end up getting near some sort of actual target.

    6. Posted 22/01/2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

      “I Don’t care at all about Quarterly updates when they are released no matter how late they will show what has happened in in the quarter September to December.”

      While in general terms I agree with this sentiment, and while my support of the NBN be well known, it is quite reasonable to at very least raise an eyebrow with respect to the figures – or more accurately, the lack of figures.

      As a journalist covering the area, Renai is perfectly entitled to follow this, and report the results he is or is not getting in this respect.

      On the other hand, I do also believe that it is not unreasonable to expect that the December figures might be late, given the likelihood of various people in the “chain of evidence” being unavailable over the Christmas / New Year period.

      They do however need to get onto it very very soon.

      For me, two weeks late – (given most organisations started back on Jan 7) – is not totally unreasonable at this time of year. If it gets out to a month, that starts to be quite a concern.

      • Posted 22/01/2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

        If they don’t publish the stats by the end of this month, it will be FoI time from my perspective.

    7. CMOTDibbler
      Posted 22/01/2013 at 3:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Either the NBNCo cannot produce the stats or they will not produce the stats.

      If they cannot then they’re incompetent. If they will not then they’re hiding something.

      • Posted 22/01/2013 at 3:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Precisely. This is what puzzles me about the situation.

        One possible explanation is that Conroy is currently on vacation, meaning he might not have approved the release of the stats … but then again, you’d have to imagine that NBN Co doesn’t actually need his permission to release the data.

        • NBNAccuracy
          Posted 22/01/2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Waiting for Turnbull to rubbish it then use the numbers as a rebuttal. After all if they are good numbers MSM will not publish them unless they can spin it.
          I think they have may have missed that target and waiting for Conroy to be around for damage control. Hell if they missed it they missed it, it’s not like they have been lounging about. The infrastructure is needed whether it’s there by 2020 or 2024. Improving the speed of the rollout is not something that a political party is likely to be able to do other than to throw more money at it.

          • Posted 22/01/2013 at 4:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

            I was thinking about this, and to be honest I’m not sure there is a target for the end of 2012. The next concrete target they need to hit, as per their corporate plan, is for mid-2013. All the last quarter of 2012 would show is whether they were broadly on track (as per a graph) to meet that 2013 target.

            • NBNAccuracy
              Posted 22/01/2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

              There may not be a target. I tried looking for one and for NBNCo reporting requirements and didn’t find anything about reporting premises passed right. Shame, it would be nice to plot progress. I don’t care if there is a shortfall. There isn’t a viable alternative to what is being rolled out. FTTN is only a short term fix as far as I am concerned, demand for speed and data does not look like it is slowing, so I see no case for “who would even need speeds like that”. Who would have thought of 4GB being an average amount of RAM even 10 years ago.

              • Michael
                Posted 22/01/2013 at 7:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

                I agree even, if there is no “hard” target it would definately be nice to obtain the statistics and be able to plot them.

                From the data we could see if it is increasing in an exponential fashion or linear and judge if it will be able to meet future target by looking at the various gradients.

                • Posted 22/01/2013 at 7:57 pm | Permalink | Reply


                  No you couldn’t. 2 data points (Sep/Dec 2012) does not a graph make. Those are the only data points we have as before that they were not in volume rollout mode.

                  That’s not an excuse, simply a fact- graphing 2 quarters does not, in ANY way, accurately represent rollout increase.

                  • Michael
                    Posted 23/01/2013 at 6:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

                    Again, that highlights why (as Renai has mentioned before) it would be extremely beneficial to have more regular updates especially in early stages of the project.

                    With 3-5 data points it is possible to plot a basic exponential (or logarithmic) upto their next forecast in 6-12 months and then watch it ramp up.

                    • Posted 23/01/2013 at 9:14 pm | Permalink | Reply


                      And that is simply pandering to the whim of the 24 hour news cycle in my opinion. We’re talking data points that, come December, no one is going to care about. We’re talking data points that have only ONE purpose- political expediency. They don’t have a project purpose- Renai has stated this before- in the overall 9 year scheme, 9 months of data points is fairly pointless. These data points are political ONLY.

                      I’m sorry, but I truly believe the NBN needs to be treated WELL beyond what is politically interesting and actually be treated as vital infrastructure. Pandering to the news cycle, with no merit (because the targets are STILL only yearly) has only one result- further demeaning of the project as vital infrastructure and building up the idea that it is a purely politically motivated policy.

                      We have 2, perhaps 3 number presentations between now and the election. We have ONE target number. If they reach that target by June 2013, or come very close, then the project is on track and should continue, no questions asked, end of story. I don’t see what the problem with this is?

                      • Michael
                        Posted 23/01/2013 at 10:12 pm | Permalink |

                        I personally believe that the ramp up phase is one of the most important in the life of the project. The company undergoes large changes as it learns through experience.

                        Look at the level of participation from investors involved in new startups (e.g. venture capital) and then compare that to a mature comnpany.

                        Thats why it is especially important to see that the company is meeting its targets and if not, why not.

                        It is not necessarily pandering to political aims, as you say there is no official target to compare it to, but it gives an indication if it is on tract or not. It gives more warning to allow for action to be taken if problems crop up. As you said it is a large infrastructure project and it is vital that they get it right.

                      • Posted 23/01/2013 at 10:35 pm | Permalink |

                        Actually Michael, there is no way to tell over the next 9 months, by releasing the premises passed figures monthly instead of quarterly, if they ARE matching “ramp up”.

                        The Ramp up started in June. That means it will be AT LEAST June 2013 before we see the results of the major scale ramp up.

                        What we SHOULD be comparing is the RFS monthly reports, as they indicate when a FSAM was started and when it was due for completion. Premises passed won’t actually do any good until after June, as that’s when those started as as result of the ramp up, begin to come online.

                        The ramp up is “artificial” if you like until we start seeing FSAMs from AFTER the official ramp up was started, come online. That is likely to be only a few months out from the election….oh wait, perfect timing….In the meantime, monthly reporting of the premises passed does nothing- we already know what to expect between now and then and can watch it on the Monthly RFS.

            • tinman_au
              Posted 22/01/2013 at 5:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Renai said: “I was thinking about this, and to be honest I’m not sure there is a target for the end of 2012. ”

              In a way, it doesn’t really matter if there is a target or not, once the first set of figures is released, that will set a base line for future figures.

        • Cameron
          Posted 22/01/2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Kim Carr is acting as Comms Minister, he can provide Ministerial approval if it is required.

          I also wonder what “approval” would be required? I think Conroy has a penchant for revising government reports but what could he change regarding the stats?

          Given Conroy’s style, if it is being held off I suspect it is because it is good news and not because it is bad news. But it isn’t the right either way.

    8. Paul Thompson
      Posted 22/01/2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I don’t think that the NBN should scramble to meet the whims of any journalist who is on a crusade to find information which they demand (of course altruistically on behalf of the Australian public!).

      While NBN needs to have some transparency and accountability, there is a line between this, and expecting them to jump when you say jump.

      On behalf of this Australian, I wish you would stop harassing them with time-wasting FOI requests.

      • Posted 22/01/2013 at 4:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Sorry Paul — but I’m going to continue on with this one. I respect your views, but the issue is very important, and I don’t regard it as a huge deal for a company with 1,700 staff to provided updated information on its main activities — its benchmark activities.

      • Paul Grenfell
        Posted 22/01/2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

        To a point i agree. I dont see what the fuss is about.. And NBNco is not required to provide information at the whim of every personal request .. They already have stats and rollout maps etc and give regular updates. They are doing whats required of them as legally bound.

        • Posted 22/01/2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

          ” NBNco is not required to provide information at the whim of every personal request”

          Yes. They are. The whim of anyone — it doesn’t even have to be a journalist. In fact, they have several staff employed specifically for this purpose. I recommend you read up on the Freedom of Information legislation:


          • NBNAccuracy
            Posted 22/01/2013 at 5:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Hmmm, maybe you are asking the wrong people for the rollout details. NBNCo are a government funded company but they are not the government. That FOI document specified government departments and ministers. Have you tried a FOI request to the Conroy and his department?

            • Posted 22/01/2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

              NBN Co comes under the FOI act.

            • tinman_au
              Posted 22/01/2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

              All government contracts require that companies signing them also comply to the FOI regs (except in a few circumstances, for obvious reasons).

              You can read more about it at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s (OAIC) website:


        • tinman_au
          Posted 22/01/2013 at 5:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

          The “fuss” is this:

          In about 8-9 months there will be an election.

          In that time, NBNCo’s reporting periods will basically only show 2 data points if they stick to their official schedule.

          It’s impossible to show a meaningful trend line with just two data points.

          If NBNCo can’t show it is achieving it’s aim, it’s sure to be “binned” if the Coalition win, no question.

          If, however, they can show they are on target with the business plan, or even ahead of schedule, there is a chance (only a small one though) that the Coalition might leave it alone (due to it’s popularity amongst Australians).

          With it’s popularity, and showing that it is on target to meet it’s plan , the NBN could be Tony Abbott’s version of John Howard’s “middle class welfare” (only with a lot more benefit to the country as a whole).

          I also think that if he wins, he’ll be looking around for “something to build” to counteract the wrecker/no-alition image he has built up (which works for an opposition, but it’s no way to run a country).

          • Posted 22/01/2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

            This is precisely my argument. All I am attempting to do is show more data points (monthly data points).

            • tinman_au
              Posted 22/01/2013 at 5:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

              *two thumbs up*

              Go get em Renai!

              • Haderak
                Posted 23/01/2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink | Reply

                Agree completely – and if it turns out there is a problem with delivery, it’s far better to get it exposed now so that there’s a chance it can be dealt with before it gets caught up in the wheels of the election bandwagon.

                If NBNCo waits until the eve of the election to announce that they have been missing their targets and fudging their paperwork to cover it, that will have a significant impact on the future of the project.

      • Sean
        Posted 22/01/2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I have to agree stop wasting peoples time.

        Mr Lemay you have been advised that you will get those figures on the 11th wait just like everyone else.

      • KingForce
        Posted 22/01/2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Renai is simply doing his job. A journalist’s role in a democracy to ask the hard questions.

        • Sean
          Posted 22/01/2013 at 5:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

          He has been given an answer of his own admission and that’s Feb 11th, its not the one he wanted but that’s life we don’t all get our own way.

          What I would like to see is more on LNP/MT NBN policy if anyone needs to be held accountable its LNP

      • Michael
        Posted 22/01/2013 at 7:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Any company that recieves public funds has to provide information to the public that the funding is being used responsibly.

        For public owned companies on the share markets this is in the form of annual reports (and quarterly for profit forecasts etc) and updating the market on all relevant developments that can impact the shareprice.

        For government companies and departments this is in the form of the budget annually, FoI legislation and government committees.

        They have a responsibility to show us that they are using our funds effectively.

        • Posted 22/01/2013 at 7:58 pm | Permalink | Reply


          They have a responsibility to show us that they are using our funds effectively.

          Which they’re doing. The Quarterly is on Feb 11th.

          • Posted 22/01/2013 at 8:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

            No, February 11 is the day that NBN Co has set to get back to me about my query from early December. That query covered the rollout up until early December.

            • Posted 22/01/2013 at 11:02 pm | Permalink | Reply


              Apologies, I misread that.

              However, might I suggest that is why they gave you that date? Because the Quarterly would be out at or before that?…

              • Posted 23/01/2013 at 12:37 am | Permalink | Reply

                No, that date is set according to the FOI legislation.

                • Posted 23/01/2013 at 3:46 am | Permalink | Reply


                  Why? FOI requests are supposed to be answered in 30 days, or, upon extension, within 90 aren’t they? You applied on, what, the 4th of December? That’d make it the 4th of March. Unless I’m missing something? Or are you talking about your early January application? Was that the 11th Jan?

                  In any case, they have extended it for a reason. Whether you believe that reason, or whether they are simply extending it because they know they will announce the numbers in the interim, is yet to be seen.

    9. Ryan
      Posted 22/01/2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Considering the progress in WA, which can be judged by the “ready time” on their rollout stats, i’m guessing they are a long way behind.

    10. Ryan
      Posted 22/01/2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink | Reply


      do you seriously think the NBN doesn’t have stats on how many premises they have rolled out?

    11. KingForce
      Posted 22/01/2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

      It’s crunch time for the NBN. No more excuses. Roll out stats should be released today.

      • Sean
        Posted 22/01/2013 at 4:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Why because an article was written about it.

        • KingForce
          Posted 22/01/2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Delimiter has, quite rightly, been holding NBN Co to account on this issue for many months.

          Business plans released during Christmas and the Olympic games, truculent behaviour when being asked to provide simple, key data that every Australian voter and taxpayer wants to know. It seems as if a disturbing pattern is forming here.

          • NBNAccuracy
            Posted 22/01/2013 at 5:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Sorry, are you talking about the NBN progress report on premises past or getting answers on the Coalition broadband policy?

      • Paul Grenfell
        Posted 22/01/2013 at 4:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Who said they should? and Where are the Noalition Policy details?

        • tinman_au
          Posted 22/01/2013 at 5:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

          The coalition plan isn’t a “going” project, the NBN is. I’m not even that certain MT has said that that is what the Coalition will do (as in written in stone), just that it could do that instead.

          As a “shareholder” in NBNCo, I want to see that my money is being spent wisely and that they are actually on target to meeting the plan. Shouldn’t any sensible Australian want to know that their agents are doing their job properly?

          If they are, then where’s the harm in asking (and giving) the figures??

          if they aren’t, aren’t we better off finding out sooner rather than later?

          • NBNAlex
            Posted 22/01/2013 at 7:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

            I actually think you are both right to degree.

            IMO, we should expect NBNCo’s reports to be on time (not before) and equally deserve the opposition’s broadband policy tabled for us all to see now, not two weeks before the next election.

            Who is more likely to deliver?

      • NBNAccuracy
        Posted 22/01/2013 at 5:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Hardly crunch time. If there was a viable alternate and the target was missed by a large margin maybe. But there simply isn’t. FTTH needs to be rolled out over the next 10 years no matter what.

    12. Mark
      Posted 22/01/2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Most companies are only starting to release 2012 Q4 results this week, with some due next week as well. Don’t see why NBN Co should be expected to release it any earlier

    13. Andrew Mestoth
      Posted 22/01/2013 at 5:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Gets the feeling they have employed a new PR strategy.
      Now the NBNco map shows “commenced construction” on the left pane with all the new zones. However, in my area (Cranbourne) which is listed, There is not a single new “zone” -> they are all new housing developments that have no existing homes on them (or are in progress). From looking at it, there are no EXISTING site conversions currently listed ,despite the new flashy news. That said, hopefully I should be live in Jun-November…so cant really complain. Just pointing out there may be a little bit of smoke and mirrors going on here :)

    14. Posted 22/01/2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Their Monthly Ready-for-Service update is late. It has not got Active or Connected premises numbers.

      Their Quarterly report is not late. It does have these numbers.

      I’ll be waiting for both reports. AFAIK, this is the first time the Monthly RFS has been late. That doesn’t spell hiding something to me, especially seeing as it doesn’t actually contain any active or connected numbers, it says that it’s…..late. Why WOULDN’T they release it if it was ready? They’ve got nothing to gain or lose by holding onto it.

      We can argue all day about whether NBNCo. have weekly/daily access passed premises. Fact is, we don’t know. And, fact is, they are legally required to produce them only every quarter. I’ve said this a half dozen times now.

    15. Sydney Lawrence
      Posted 22/01/2013 at 5:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The NBN Co. must answer questions. The danger of a great cost blow-out and roll-out hold-ups are real and political spin and considerations should not come into it. Perhaps Senators can call for the release of information to enlighten the Australian public. I believe that it will be impossible to maintain the required 6000 premises per day hook-up and the costs will blow out enormously. Hope I am wrong but don’t think so. Also ISP’s better be aware that the Government owned Australia Post is thinking of joining the NBN Co. to make the NBN, Wholesale and Retail, Government controlled.

      • Hubert Cumberdale
        Posted 22/01/2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

        “Also ISP’s better be aware that the Government owned Australia Post is thinking of joining the NBN Co. to make the NBN, Wholesale and Retail, Government controlled.”

        Wow, been a while since we had a tin-foil hat wearer here.

      • jasmcd
        Posted 23/01/2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Good on Australia Post if they wish to become an RSP.

        Can’t imagine they will get a better wholesale price than any other RSP though… there would be hell to pay if they did.

        Basically, the government will have wholesale control and the only retail control they will have is what wholesale levels they set for the RSP’s.

    16. Daniel
      Posted 22/01/2013 at 6:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’ve continued to say this – rollout stats are not important.

      NBNCo have signed deal with Telstra to migrate the customers.

      If Delimiter wants to continue this sherade that the most important part of the NBN to be successful then everyone is just part of an ego trip.

      • Soth
        Posted 22/01/2013 at 6:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

        How can they not be important when MT can use it against Labor in the media to discredit them and the NBN Co on an election year.
        I mean I don’t really care about the numbers, I just want it to keep rolling, but it’s stuff like this that ends up into the wrong media hands and gets blown out of proportion.

        • Daniel
          Posted 22/01/2013 at 6:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

          It’s already blown out to proportion since day 1 of the NBN Announcement.

          • Soth
            Posted 22/01/2013 at 6:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

            True, but that was years ago now, most people hopefully forgotten that rubbish.
            Now though, it’s an election year, bad news now will linger in voters memories.
            I just don’t want to give MT any more fire power to blow into the sea of media crap.

            • Daniel
              Posted 22/01/2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

              NBN is being rolled out – we don’t need rollout stats because we have a deal with Telstra to migrate their customers.

              That’s all we need to say to the media.

              • Trevor
                Posted 22/01/2013 at 9:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

                Actually that assumption is mooted the moment the LNP gains federal power. Which is the point of Renai’s request and push on this issue – in the event of a federal Liberal government all bets are off for the NBN – there’s nothing to stop them halting the project or (perhaps worse) completing it in politically advantageous stages and selling them off to the private sector. The NBN as planned will only be completed by a Labor government, and only remain a public company under a federal Labor government. Well, unless there is a third option who are committed to the ideals of the NBN project, but such an option hasn’t presented itself at this point.

                • Daniel
                  Posted 22/01/2013 at 9:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

                  Exactly – LNP have gone from “Destroying” the NBN, to “Pausing” the NBN, all they doing is creating negativity around the project – to make it even easier to get rid of the NBN when they get power.

                  They will prod and pick at anything, till they in power, and if they didn’t get what they wanted, they will keep on trying to spread Fear.

                  No amount of stunts or FEAR will stop these guys into getting rid of the NBN.

      • Michael
        Posted 23/01/2013 at 6:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I wish i could live in your world, it would be much simpler where take-up and construction speed were exactly the same thing and by telling someone to take-up an NBN service the fibre would be connected to their house magically.

    17. Harimau
      Posted 22/01/2013 at 7:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

      When, did they say, they were going to release the figures?

      • Posted 22/01/2013 at 7:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

        The active and passed premises figures will be released 11th Feb, which is about the right time for most Quarterly updates for the Sep-Dec 2012 Quarter. There is no specific date by which they are supposed to do it by, so the 11th Feb is acceptable and fairly standard for the Quarter.

        The Monthly RFS report, which has no active or passed premises numbers, should’ve been released on the 14th Jan, but was publicly pushed back by NBNCo. on Twitter to the 21st. They’re now late on that.

    18. Harimau
      Posted 22/01/2013 at 9:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Ah, okay, fair enough. Poor form, then.

    19. raymond
      Posted 22/01/2013 at 9:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

      hey renai,

      why dont you try a different tack. – ask nbnco if you can tag along when the next quarters numbers are generated – sign an nda (so they get the numbers out first) – and report here on exactly how the numbers are sourced, collated and generated. tell us why they take so long to come out, is nbnco actually being transparent or are they deliberately delaying.

      yes it may take a week or more from your schedule but im sure if you asked the right person you could tag along, and it should make a really good story one way or the other.

      it cant hurt to ask, and somehow i dont think anyone has actually bothered to do so – everyone just wants the numbers themselves, they dont care how they came to be.

      • Walter
        Posted 23/01/2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink | Reply

        What a good idea be really interesting to see how this all comes together wouldn’t it.

    20. PeterA
      Posted 23/01/2013 at 7:24 am | Permalink | Reply

      I think I wrote this post or something similar on the change of construction manager article.
      Anyone stopped to think that maybe the new manager of construction that’s been there a week or so now wanted to go over all these numbers and get a better handle on the reporting mechanism before releasing his first report?
      Maybe NBNCo don’t NEED to talk to Conroy, but being new to this particular role maybe the new head of construction wanted to let Conroy have a look first?
      This guy knows how much vitriol can be generated by this report, and is new at the job and might not have had the time to sign off on a single press release because he hasn’t has time to read some media fluff because he has an NBN to build.
      (Obviously I want the numbers as much as anyone else, but I’m trying to find reasons here.)

      In addition the replacement of head of construction was worded weirdly, which implies something strange happened at NBNCo over Christmas. /tinfoil

    21. Dave
      Posted 23/01/2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink | Reply

      Another BBQ at Malcolm s house again Renai?

    22. Kevin Davies
      Posted 23/01/2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink | Reply

      “By continually declining to release hard statistics about how the rollout and uptake of its network are proceeding, the National Broadband Network Company risks portraying itself as exactly the kind of negligent and overly bureaucratic monopoly which the Federal Opposition has long accused it of being”

      Now you sound like a bully Renai ;-P :-)

      Like all government things they will release it when they are good and ready. Has it ever been any different?

    23. Sydney Lawrence
      Posted 23/01/2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink | Reply

      Look the NBN for Australia is a great idea but not at any price. Facts and figures must be presented to show the bonefides of the roll-out are being met and promises are being fulfilled. Malcolm Turnbull must present his plans for the NBN in the near future. Malcolm is no fool and knows that the NBN is popular with the Australian people who may not be happy to see its completion abandoned. While the NBN project is gigantic and difficult people are right to have confidence in Mr Quigley and his team. Tony Abbott knows SFA (he has admitted this) about the NBN so best he leave it to those who do.

      • jasmcd
        Posted 23/01/2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

        But we will need to know that any announcement by Turnbull is
        1.) Fully adopted by the Liberal Party and not just the current Comm’s Shadow ministers thoughts.
        2.) Put in writing as formal policy so that we know it is… dare I say it…. “the Gospel Truth”.

    24. Phil Collins
      Posted 23/01/2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

      My mail is there is significant internal movement and activity. It about to go BOOM.

    25. Dilbert
      Posted 23/01/2013 at 3:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Stop hassling NBNCo for stats so often man, don’t you know a watched pot never boils?

    26. Abel Adamski
      Posted 23/01/2013 at 9:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Actually diigressing a tad
      Excuses and reasons external won’t carry much weight at this time.

      Nothing much can be done UNTILL the pits are remediated, Telstra is still just signing up contracts to do so, with potential extensions written in. Apart from delaying installs it is also an indication of the actual state of the copper network.
      Plus Telstra went on a truly major Broadband sign up drive and also actually started installing top hats.
      Plus Telstra’s NBN plans almost discourage take up.

      What is the odds that the coalition will just hand over the NBN to Telstra, gifting them NBN’s assetts as settlement of debt to cancell all contracts and give them Billions to run a half baked NBN and cancell the separation, Bris South and Velocity estates Nation wide.

      Maybe the connect figures are not as good as hoped for as Telstra has the majority of broadband customers and to chang would cost them more as they still have to rent a phone line untill the copper is switched off

    27. Posted 27/05/2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’ve been browsing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than ever before.

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