blog We’ve been hearing the same mantra from NBN Co for some years now with regards to its Fibre to the Premises network rollout. Initially moving, as Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull likes to describe it, “at the pace of an arthritic snail”, NBN Co executives have long been fond of claiming that the company’s rollout would speed up as time went on, in a “ramp-up” phenomenon. However, over at iTNews, journalist Ry Crozier has crunched the numbers and determined that the claim is just that — a claim — with no actual evidence of such a ramp-up in sight. Crozier reports (we recommend you click here for the full article):
“NBN Co isn’t suffering the ill effects of the construction industry’s Christmas shutdown, nor is it about to suddenly “ramp up” fibre rollout efforts now that the silly season is over. This whole fibre ramp-up narrative has gone on too long. Take a closer look at the numbers and you’ll see there is no longer a reason to believe a word of it.”
For me, what this clearly evident trend points to is that, despite all the analysis that has been done into the NBN rollout so far, we really don’t know what to expect here. As I wrote in an article discussing the rollout for Delimiter 2.0 in August last year (paywalled), globally, only incumbent telcos have conducted this kind of Fibre network rollout. It’s hard to know what to expect in terms of the capabilities of a startup company like NBN Co, even supported as it is by extensive construction contractors. Unfortunately, Labor picked an untested model for NBN Co; and that’s never a good idea for major technology projects.
This doesn’t invalidate NBN Co’s Fibre to the Premises model — far from it. But it does point to the fact that the construction model picked by Labor for the project — as former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has acknowledged — has failed. It will be interesting to see whether the Coalition can do any better at holding to its promises.