NBN Co adds “build preparation” zones into map


news The National Broadband Network Company yesterday revealed it had added a new category of construction into its dynamically updated network rollout map, with the company now providing additional transparency around areas where “build preparation” activities are being undertaken ahead of the actual physical construction of its network.

In late October, following the Federal Election NBN Co radically altered its network rollout map. Many areas around Australia which had been marked to receive new broadband infrastructure over the next several years had their areas removed from the map. You can see the map online here.

The changes took place because NBN Co changed its metrics. Previously, NBN Co had used a metric which referred to the fact that initial work on designing its rollout in certain areas had commenced. This included, in many cases, work on paper that took place in office environments, despite the fact that no actual construction work in the field had actually started. However, the the new Coalition Government changed this measurement and started only measuring areas where construction crews in streets had been instructed to actually start deploying infrastructure, as well as areas where services are available.

Yesterday the company noted that the interactive rollout map on the NBN Co website now displays the communities in the fixed-line footprint where “Build Preparation” is taking place. These areas are shaded green on the map. They signify that contractors in built-up (or brownfields) areas are carrying out pre-construction activities – for instance readying Telstra’s pits and pipes for use by NBN Co – ahead of the physical construction of the Coalition’s Broadband Network (CBN).

NBN Co Chief Operating Officer, Greg Adcock, said:“We are stabilising the [CBN] rollout and have reviewed the underlying data. That gives us the confidence to be able to provide greater clarity about work underway across Australia. The new measure lets families and businesses know earlier on in the rollout process that the NBN is coming so they can start exploring how they might take advantage of high-speed broadband.”

“Build Preparation” is currently underway for approximately 167,000 homes and businesses in the [CBN] brownfields footprint. Construction contracts for the physical build of the network (“Build Commenced”) have been issued for a further 290,000 brownfields premises.

There are now 195,000 families and businesses with an active CBN connection across all access technologies. “Build Preparation” takes place after the commencement of design phase (i.e. preparation of maps, surveying and rodding and roping) and before the start of the physical build (“Build Commenced”). The design phase is not displayed on the map.

The areas where the additional ‘Build Preparation’ zones can be found on the map are displayed below.


Image credit: NBN Co


  1. Is there any way someone in one of these areas could find out what flavour of multi-technology-madness is going to be used to service their street?

    Not that I’m on the map yet. I’m just curious. My area was on the original NBN map (hence getting fibre, slated to start last October, then vanished off the projections).

    • Well, they haven’t even completed the FTTN brownfields trials, and goodness knows how long it will take (or cost!) to negotiate access to the HFC networks, so presumably this is all FTTP.

      And, yes. There are still very large areas that were marked as ‘Construction Commenced’ previously, that 9 months later are still missing from the map. Sure, that included large areas that were just entering the design stage, but considering the old metric was “about a year” from ‘Construction Commenced’ to ‘Premises Passed’, it’s pretty sad that so many areas that were starting the FTTP build process are still missing from the ‘Build Preparation’ or ‘Build Commenced’ areas today.

      One concrete example: Bundaberg, where my parents live. I was hoping my parents would finally get off their 1.2Mbps ADSL2+ line. Last August, half the town was marked as ‘Construction Commenced’, the other half was in the 12-month rollout category. Today? Nada.

      What would be really useful to add to the map would be a “Design underway” category, but then, that might upset the voters when the trials are done, and the mandate goes out that all new construction is to be FTTN only, and pre-existing plans for FTTP in some areas are placed in the circular file.

      • Was talking to a sub-contractor a while back (who, incidentally predicted all the Illawarra places would pop up on the list by August), and in a nutshell he said that the reasons why things were taking longer was a combination of Telstra remediation, and quite simply a lack of confidence in the LNP.

        Telstra remediation, particularly the asbestos issue, pushed the original 12 months out by around 3 months on average, and now they’re finding that a far greater number of pits than expected need fixing. So Telstra had to get up to speed to do what they needed to do, and that couldnt happen until the LNP greenlit other things.

        Namely, that FttH rollouts would continue.

        At the same time, for the same reason, people werent getting paid, so werent making money, so went to work elsewhere. Which created a labour shortage. Things went slower.

        End result is that the original 12 months is probably more like 18 months now because of more remediation, and less contractors.

        And it should be expected, given we knew things were going to change after the election.

        Hopefully this extra level of information will encourage people to become contractors again, so things speed up a little. But I dont expect that to shave much time off the builds.

      • In Rockhampton, in the old map ‘Construction Commenced’ which was all covered orange on the south side ( from November 2012 to April 2013). With the new map, absolutely nothing with regards to fixed line network for brownfields.

        Even though rodding and roping was done, with remediation and repair work done throughout 2013 and 2014. So even with this ‘Build Preparation’ which is going on throughout Australia, they only highlight (in green) certain areas. We will not get an indication of what is happening in regards to any technology implemented until we receive something like a 1 year and 3 year roll out map. They are currently just picking and choosing without our prior knowledge of what is occurring.

        It might be a very long wait indeed.

    • My parents are in Nowra (just near the showground). They’ve talked to the contractors doing the remediation work and were told it’s FTTP.

  2. Soo…

    From what I gathered basically all they did was put back a majority of the “dropped” sites where work had already started back on the map as a different color?

    Anyone feel free to correct me here. But I find that a excercise a tad “condescending” if that’s what they’re doing..

    • Pretty much, but dont downtalk it. For once they’ve done something right.

      Labor’s maps didnt have enough detail. It was a one size fits all model, so all you knew was that you were somewhere in the 1 year range, or 3 year range. Or finished, which isnt really relevant.

      The LNP maps went too far the other way, basically only showing the last month of a 15 month process – you knew something was happening, but had no idea what. I think this is a happy medium between the two, and to be honest what Labor should have had.

      It is an improvement from any rollout map we’ve had before, and thats a good thing. Effectively though, it really just adds in the 1 year group but at least people again know somethings coming.

      • I’m not saying it’s a “bad” thing per se…

        I just find the excercise a tad insulting to people who were “dropped”. I mean it’s great to see that some people will be getting the FTTP down the line. But this excercise IMHO smacks of “desperate smokescreen” to redirect from other recent problems w/ Telstra and Testing delays..

        It’s like “look guys we have you back in the map! so we’re still chugging along! Progress and whatnot!”

        If they had actually bothered to put these “planning” colors back in when the original map was drastically altered then it would have more weight to me of saying “yes we still have you covered”. As it stands to suddenly put everything back whilst NBNco is getting hammered w/ delays on it’s roll outs just doesn’t sit right w/ me

        • Yeah, came out a little poorly, my bad.

          For me, at the end of the day, this is what the rollout map should always have shown, if not a little more. The original built/1 year/3 year maps were too vague and broad for any realistic planning, while the Liberals went too far the other way.

          This keeps the relevant fine detail showing areas that really are getting close (which is really the important step), while allowing that broad planning that something is at least on the way. Overall, better than what either side had in the past, even if it adds little significantly beneficial information.

          Personally, I’d like to see another color or two showing when remediation is happening, rodding and roping, or design, but the amount of paperwork may make that unreasonable. But keeping this information up to date is more important to most people than a weekly update that doesnt overly change on a week to week basis.

          If it was up to me, I’d dump the weekly updates back to monthly, and have these maps more regularly updated with finer details.

    • As I noted above: FTTN trials are not complete, so it’s not ready for wider rollout. HFC access is subject to the negotiations between NBNCo & Telstra (& presumably Optus). So the only thing NBNCo is rolling out, at the moment, is fixed wireless & FTTP. (Please someone correct me if I’m wrong!)

      • That’s what I’m wondering.. Is all that area around Nambucca. South West rocks etc ftth ? I find that hard to believe.

  3. “We are stabilising the [CBN] rollout…”

    Yeah, that’s definitely what you’re doing. Not at all are you taking a well-planned and completely comprehensible project and throwing the whole thing into chaos with unanswered questions and unreliable technologies. No… “Stablising”. Yep, that’s the word I’d use. *Rolls Eyes*

    Also, for those wondering, apparently NBN Co confirmed (at least to ZDNet) that these new green areas are FTTP.

    • @HonestlyCurious

      That’s because they’re inner suburbs, the closer to the CBD you are the more expensive the location. As much as I would love to attack the LNP over this, they are just following the prudent plans put in place by Labor. Telecommunications networks really need to be rolled outwards and not inwards.

      The problem is that they did not put in areas that are in the design phase. They are clearly doing this for a reason, most likely so that when they eventually switch to FTTN they won’t have people complaining about being mislead.

      • Actually, no they’re not. They are more central than most, certainly, but Victoria Park, Northbridge, North Perth, Subiaco & Leederville are geographically closer, but per capita income is half to a third of Mt Pleasant, Como & South Perth.

        Also remember that the network is rolled out from the transit network outwards and the transit network needed to be connected to greenfield first (not sure if that has changed with the CBN). That is why 6bn has been spent to connect a couple of hundred thousand people, most of the cost so far has been the transit network which must necessarily come first. So under Labor the NBN was most certainly not being deployed from the CBDs out, which was good democratically but far from efficient.

        • Also note that I drew no conclusions from that statement, it was merely an observation. Strategically speaking it may prove to be a good move as it might prevent competitive overbuild. It’s still more of the same from the LNP though, whatever the justification it still always seems to work out that the wealthiest get a benefit that the rest of the country has no possible access to.

          & BTW the claim that Mt Pleasant is an inner city suburb is laughable. You have to cross the river twice to get to it & it’s something like 15km from the CBD.

          • I’d like to add that many of the Victorian contributions are the opposite, far out of the city, not specifically “wealthy”.

            It is just the luck of the draw.

          • Yeah, look at Brisbane. The wealthiest suburbs are conspicuous by their absence from the current rollout plant – and, in fact, Labor copped a lot of flack locally for this prior to the election, as these suburbs weren’t on the 3-year rollout plan either.

            Of course, they generally all have reasonably good ADSL and/or HFC, so they’re not exactly broadband-deprived right now… (though I’m also sure there are lots of apartment buildings with no HFC and crappy pair-gain phone lines…)

        • To be fair, Victoria Park hit it’s ADSL port limit and ran out of space in the exchange something like 10 years ago. You have been unable to get ADSL anything there for a long time.

          It was, truly, one of the worst places for internet in Perth, so I’m kinda not surprised they put Vic Park as a priority. To suggest that it was a political decision honestly ignores a wealth of evidence that was gathered and used to determine these rollout areas.

          IMO NBNCo should have started connecting to homes in the cities far sooner than they did. If they had of connected 100000 more people to the NBN, then the general populous would actually know the benefits. Alas, they do not – we just have an awesome transit network to put our copper on now!!

        • @HonestlyCurious

          I was being very brief with my previous response. What I meant was that it is being rolled out from Applecross (POI) and Victoria Park (the only metro trial site). They are rolling outwards from their existing builds.

          Those areas were added to the rollout map long before the LNP gained power and would have likely been in design phase prior to the election. If you look at Jxeeno’s blog (link below), which has details on an FOI request that he lodged to find out about the status of FSAM, it indicates that between Sept 2012 and March 2014 there were 19 extra FSAMs (in WA) entered into design phase. This would imply that design was finishing up for other FSAMs. The design phase takes many months to complete.

          Look at the map and you’ll note that all the new green areas extend on from the brown areas, which backs up what I’m saying about it being rolled outwards from their existing work. Otherwise you would see a random green spot on its own.

          Yeah, you’re right about the work done between the POIs and greenfields areas, that has had an impact on the way the network has been rolled out.

          Labor have designed the network with some remote, compared to metro, areas prioritised for political reasons. As much as it sucks, if they didn’t do that we wouldn’t even have a network to begin with.

          Link: http://jxeeno.com/blog:nbn:fttp-workflow-resumes-in-mainland-states

  4. There’s an area in South East Queensland where an estate on one side of the street has NBN (active) and a different estate on the other side of the same street doesn’t.

    To make it worse NBN CO accidently fitted out stage 1 of the estate that “doesn’t have it” with all of their equipment, NTD etc. Instead of lighting it up and making some money out of that they have put it in the “oops” basket. Those residents now get ADSL1 at best through a heavily congested exchange.

    Absolute madness.

  5. The South Brisbane area (home of the Telstra South Brisbane Fibre that was put in over a year ago) is still mostly blank on that map, but two spots are now listed as “Build commenced stage 1”. I give them another two years before they catch up to reality here.

    • Yeah, that really pisses me off – my area (Wacol/Darra) used to be build commenced, now its nothing.

      If you zoom out its amazing how little has been done and nothing being planned in Brisbane. Ipswich has more coverage – I don’t begrudge them that, blood ridiculous for Brisbane though.

  6. The FTTN trial had stalled because of energy issues. You can use the mynbndotinfo to check when your area can get this called NBN Services. You can see if its ready for service, design and build, testing and activation etc. Hope this site is helpful to you guys.

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