blog This morning some of you may have noticed that technology media outlet iTNews published a set of somewhat sensationalist claims regarding the National Broadband Network’s rollout progress. Under the headline “NBN Co fudges numbers to expand rollout”, the normally sober outlet alleged, among other things, that NBN Co had deliberately given a misleading impression of its rollout progress. Probably the key paragraph:
“NBN Co has continually promoted the impression of progress by announcing that its fibre rollout has expanded to new towns and cities. Today iTnews can reveal that NBN Co has resorted to connecting fewer premises within existing sites than originally promised to allow for this expansion.”
Now, it will come as no surprise that there’s already been a great amount of misleading reporting regarding the NBN over the past few years. Generally iTNews has kept its nose clean and out of the muck-raking that some of the other outlets have engaged in over that period. But there are some disturbing aspects to the iTNews article today which bear investigation.
For starters, the publication alleges not only misleading behaviour on the part of NBN Co in its rollout stats, but also clear intent to mislead. It explicitly links NBN Co’s rollout progress to suburbs in certain Labor electorates (implying politicisation). And there is no comment from NBN Co in the article. We’ve normally found NBN Co quite ethical and transparent with regard to its rollout processes and also open to commenting on this kind of story, so all of this is a little unusual. Personally, I suspect that this is a case where data taken in isolation from NBN Co’s spreadsheets may have been misinterpreted.
With all of this in mind, over the next few days Delimiter will be conducting a fact-checking exercise on this iTNews article. We’ve taken a complete screenshot copy of the article, in case it changes, and we’ll be examining its allegations to see whether they are in fact correct. To help meet these aims, we invite all Delimiter readers to help us. It appears as though all of the data iTNews has used to come to its conclusions is publicly available in the form of NBN Co’s regular monthly ‘ready for service’ updates. Let’s get to the bottom of this issue together and see how accurate the publication’s claims really are.
Let me say up front that if iTNews’ allegations are proven to be correct, Delimiter will join the media outlet in criticising NBN Co for poor behaviour. Likewise, if the allegations are proven to be overblown, we will be the first to call (again) for more accurate reporting of this important infrastructure project by the media. That seems only fair.