nbn meets Turnbull’s June 30 rollout targets


news Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull today confirmed nbn would meet its rollout targets for the start of the 2015/2016 financial year, although the success appeared to be based almost entirely upon the continual deployment of Labor’s previous Fibre to the Premises model, and not the Coalition’s technically inferior multi-technology alternative.

nbn’s most recent corporate plan (PDF), released in November 2014 but covering 2014 through 2017, states that the company had a goal at that stage of making its network serviceable to 1.033 million premises around Australia, consisting of some 755,000 premises to be serviced by fixed-line cables and some 278,000 premises to be serviced either by nbn’s fixed wireless network or the interim satellite service it is leasing from Optus and IPstar.

In a statement released today, Turnbull said the company had met the targets and was able to service some 1.143 million premises by the end of June, 10 percent more than it had planned to reach by that date. The company now has a total of 485,000 premises connected to its network, 1 percent more than the 481,000 it had planned to have by the end of June.

“The targets are a great credit to the professionalism and dedication of CEO Bill Morrow and the whole nbn team,” the Minister said.

Turnbull added that the company had cut down the number of premises that previously had been passed by but not connected to nbn’s network — from roughly one in three to one in ten — and had reduced the time it takes to connect customers. “Last financial year, it was taking on average 27 days to fulfil an order in brownfields fixed line areas; as of April, that was down to 15 days,” he said.

“On the activations front, the company activated on average almost 6,400 premises/week in brownfield areas in the last four weeks of the financial year. That compares to 2,800 premises/week in the corresponding period in 2014 and 1,200 in the corresponding period in 2013.”

However, it appears that the nbn rollout praised by Turnbull mainly consists of the continual deployment of the Fibre to the Premises technology which the previous Labor Government had instituted for nbn’s model.

The Coalition won power in the last Federal Election in early September 2013. However, since that stage it has taken almost two years — two thirds of the House of Representatives electoral cycle — for the Government to work through all the requirements of a revised, multi-billion dollar deal with Telstra which would allow it to commence deploying its planned HFC cable and Fibre to the Node network, slated to replace large parts of the previous FTTP policy.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission only approved the plan in late June this year. The equivalent $800 million deal to take over Optus’ own HFC cable network is reported to be expected this month.

A nbn spokesperson was not immediately able to confirm how many premises are currently serviceable under nbn’s planned takeover of the HFC and FTTN/copper elements of Telstra’s network. The company is conducting trials of both rollouts. However, former Labor staffer and candidate David Havyatt has alleged the figure is as low as 67.

The June 30 target also represents a substantial watering down of the Coalition’s NBN election commitment prior to the 2013 Federal Election.

When the Coalition released its rival NBN policy in April 2013, it based the policy on the core pledge that the party would deliver download speeds of between 25Mbps and 100Mbps by the end of 2016 — effectively the end of its first term in power — and 50Mbps to 100Mbps by the end of 2019, effectively the end of its second term. According to the Coalition’s statement, the 25Mbps to 100Mbps pledge applied to “all premises”, while the higher pledge by 2019 applied to “90 percent of fixed line users”.

Announcing you’ve met the targets you set for yourself only ten months ago? Bagging the opposition’s lack of ability to meet its own targets before you took office and revised them? This is all par for the political course.

But there are two realities going on here which are worth noting.

The first is that nbn, as a company, is more or less continuing to successfully deploy its Fibre to the Premises model, in a very similar way as was originally envisioned. Sure, the company is quite a long way behind its original projections (its 2012-2015 Corporate Plan, released in August 2012, envisioned 1.6 million active premises by this date (PDF)). But it’s getting there.

It’s clear that nbn’s original management did a solid job of setting up the company. Despite all of the headaches along the way, nbn is delivering FTTP to premises all around Australia. Despite abysmal morale due to the constant political infighting above their heads, the nbn team is continually ramping up its delivery. And that is a very good thing.

Secondly, the Coalition is getting closer and closer to a 2016 Federal Election without having made much real progress on its much-lauded Multi-Technology Model. It will miss the targets it announced in April 2013 by a country mile and it probably won’t have much done on FTTN/HFC by the time Abbott calls the election — an election which it will have a very good chance of losing, on current polling.

There is no doubt that Turnbull will suffer a decent barrage on this front from Labor as the Parliament starts heading towards the polls. However, the situation leaves Labor itself in an uncomfortable position. As Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare has admitted, the new deal with Telstra means it would be difficult for Labor to simply dump the HFC and FTTN components of the MTM model and switch back to a full-fibre option.

It’s clear that all sides will be considering their position an an ongoing basis. Turnbull will be considering how best to spin the fact that his record shows substantial progress on Labor’s vision but not so much on his own. And Labor will be considering how much it can attack Turnbull’s progress while adopting at least some of the Coalition’s nbn platform.

Image credit: APH Parlview


  1. ++1. Hopefully you’re back for good Renai. Your concise reporting on NBN matters and general “keep the bastards honest” attitude has been sorely missed these past months.

    • Cheers! Thanks for the kind words :)

      Yup, I’m back for good — I have a ten year plan at the moment for Delimiter and my books that I’m working on :)

  2. Nice to see you back renal.. Possible dissolution could change things, I hope..

    • Cheers!

      Personally I’m not banking on a double dissolution. The way the Senate is, I don’t think Abbott has got the guts to do something that could possibly make it worse and entrench further crossbench annoyances. History suggests that the Coalition will be likely to win a second term (Australia has only had one single term government over the past 100 years) if it keeps on pushing along populist lines a’la the national security rhetoric. I think they’ll walk away from a few more ‘barnacles’, try and scare us some more, and head to a regularly timed election.

      • I just read about early elections in the Anthony green blog, taking into consideration the senate setup, it appears the earliest date for a full election would be 6th August 2016 but then Abbott would have to bring down another budget, the last one they bought down was more like an election budget (soft). I can’t see two soft budgets in a row with a declining economy happening. On the Insiders show they were betting on a March election which would be a separate house election with a separate senate election within the next 20 months after the election. Double Dissolution not likely but we are talking Abbott here, this guy is mad enough to do anything. What ever happens expect the media to heavily dump down on Labor because Abbott has them in his pocket.

        • “…because Abbott has them in his pocket.”

          Er, you’ve got that exactly backwards, I think…
          (I wish I was joking, but signs point to “no”)

    • He threatened that originally when they got elected, but it obviously joined all the other election promises.

  3. (Secondly, the Coalition is getting closer and closer to a 2016 Federal Election without having made much progress on its much-lauded Multi-Technology Model.) Thank heavens for that, bring on the election.
    Where are you living now Renai, Sydney or are you still in Canberra.
    I would like to thank the Ngunnawal people past and present for putting up with Renai Lemay, it couldn’t have been easy.

    • Cheers, it’s good to be back!

      Nope, finished up with Scott at the beginning of the month. I’m my own man again :) Learnt a lot though — very grateful to have had the opportunity.

      • Glad you learned a lot.
        Everytime I heard Senator Ludham talking about meta data or anything to do with communications, I thought is Renai in the background digging up all this information :)

  4. Best thing I have seen on Whirlpool for some time was the link to this article, after a big double take, it was like coming back to the home of tech rationality and outrage in the middle of the long, dark winter of discontent and despair. Welcome back Renai, and wishing you good cheer, warm mittens and a big Russian hat with earmuff extensions!

  5. Good to have you back.

    Always found your articles well written. Showing reason and no bias for the technology including what this Gov was original proposing.

    Keep up the good work mate.

  6. It’s like I’ve fast forwarded to Game of Thrones Season 6, and John Snow is alive again!

    Great to have you back (and alive) Renai.

  7. NBN is not losing steam and met its financial year rollout targets for only the second time since the company was established.

    • When keep changing the goal post you are bound to hit a target at some point.
      Remember Turnbull said we would all have a min 25Mbps by 2016. Now only a third will get and most of that is just connecting the HFC.

      Or how about the at least 25Mbps that in Turnbull’s SOE but the NBN is now going to deliver a once a day 25Mbps service as a MIN.

  8. Firstly, it’s geat to see your back Renai.. maybe just in time to turn up the heat prior to an early election (we can only hope)

    I do wonder though whether FttDP is an option that allows NBN to preserve the current Telstra agreement, while avoiding the numerous pitfalls of FttN, and allowing either a far faster progression to FttP on demand or at a later date.

    Of course this would mandate yet another round of OSS/ BSS updates and testing cycles, but I would hazard a guess that the change would be much smaller than that required to change from FttP to FttN.

  9. About 3 years ago I wrote on this site that all the LNP MTM was intended to do was to create a contractual mire that made it impossible for Telstra to be shut out of its market dominate position.

    So, after 2 years in power, no progress on the actually deployment of the MTM but Telstra have a pretty ironclad contractual structure as requested.

    Seriously, Malcolm can stand outside of T$’s Head Office, with a “Mission Accomplished” banner.

  10. Very glad to have you back.
    Although I’m living in Japan right now, it’ll be good to be informed about what’s going on (or not) with Australia’s internet situation again.

  11. Meeting the numbers is (as you say) just politicising the issue, but there is a good aspect to this. In order for the LNP to meet future targets, they will have to go for the highest number of premises srved in the shortest time frame. That means logically NBN(Co) will have to prioritise high density residential and any areas were cable is already deployed for the next 12 months. Hopefully no great swathes of freehold property are subject to an FTTN deployment in earnest (trial sites are already on the book, can’t reverse that) and the least amount of capital wasted on obsolete technology.

    As for the continuation of FTTN? TBH the actual contractual position NBN(Co) has with Telstra is not public knowledge as yet, but it’s a fair bet that an incoming government would have some idea as to the details prior to taking over should there be a change in September 2016.

    So in a nutshell, the MTM at present is not necessarily a bad thing IF;
    1. The VDSL/FTTN model is applied in part or in whole to the apartments and other multi-dwelling properties in the cities, and
    2. The Buyout of the cable is predicated by an upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0 (or whatever we are up to this time next year) thereby making cabled areas the last to require a deployment to full FTTP.

    Why? Because that would put the best value for money solution in the ground/on the poles during the LNP/Turnbull years and still allow for the superior FTTP infrastructure to be deployed elsewhere, and hopefully with the least waste of capital.

  12. When I saw this link, my first impression was “oh no, now it’s even been sold and some hack is trying to cash in on the name”. Then I saw Renai’s name as the author and actually started to smile.

    Welcome back! There are many, many feet that need to be held to roaring fires and nobody did it like you when it came to NBN^H^H^Hnbn.

  13. the nbn. well I would love an audience with malcolm turnbull and i have asked for it many times as what is published to what is real is absolute falsehood. nbn did not meet their targets it was the people other than all the managers that did so and even then at a cost. the nbn have been through that many changes of recent that their own staff dont know if they have a job from now until tomorrow. im sick of hearing the bs about the nbn and i am going to be spilling all soon about the sickening reghime they have the fraternal links with all the management and how they drop the real workers in favour of the friends of friends management structure they are building. just research the board and managrs and you will see what i already know. I cant keep it a secret no more as far too many good people have been let go and i worked far too hard in this company to let others take credit where it isnt due. i am one of the golden handshakes and far too many people remain that do not have a clue. Email me a current affair and i will tell all as the truth needs to be heard for all the tax payers funding this.

  14. Renai

    67 was not my estimate it was NBN Co’s. Senate Estimates 28 May page 61. Cheers

  15. The headline needs to be corrected. It should say:

    nbn meets previous government’s June 30 rollout targets, Turnbull takes credit

  16. Damn man good to have you back :) has been severly lacking without you. Look forward to catching up on all the recent articles i have missed and new articles in the future.

    Welcome back

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