news The CEO of the NBN company has delivered a strong rebuttal of negative conclusions which commentators had drawn from a recent spate of leaks, providing a Senate Committee hearing this morning with evidence that the NBN was ahead of its targets on all measures and that its technology was performing well.
Over the past several months a number of highly sensitive documents have leaked from within the NBN company. The documents have appeared to cast doubt upon various aspects of the Coalition’s Multi-Technology Mix approach to the NBN.
For example, one set of documents appeared to show that the Fibre to the Node component of the MTM was significantly delayed. Other documents appeared to show that the cost of FTTN had exploded, while still further documents showed that the performance standards of the FTTN network may be questionable.
The leaks have come at a time as a significant volume of complaints about the FTTN rollout have been received by early users of the technology, some of whom are receiving worse speeds than their prior ADSL connections.
However, NBN chief executive Bill Morrow told the NBN Senate Select Committee in Canberra this morning that much of the recent reporting on the leaks was “either taken out of context or simply incorrect”.
You can download Morrow’s full statement here in PDF format.
Morrow stated that the NBN company now had 1.91 million premises Ready for Service (available to order a NBN connection) around Australia. This figure meant that the NBN company had added 145,000 premises over the past four weeks (an average of 35,000 per week).
Morrow said this rapid acceleration of the NBN rollout was due to incorporating the FTTN technology into the NBN company’s rollout. The NBN company’s current targets state that it needs to reach less than 300,000 premises over the next 13 weeks to reach its mid-2016 target.
“With no further acceleration, that would require only 23,000 per week. However, as I said, this last month has averaged over 35,000 a week,” said Morrow. “So we can certainly make the claim we are on track.”
Morrow said leaks which had appeared to show the FTTN rollout was delayed were wrong. The executive acknowledged there had been “sub-optimal processes” during some of the early FTTN rollout, but that bottleneck has since been resolved, and in any case the delays would not have held up the whole FTTN rollout as they were only in one part of the FTTN build zone, and represented only one step out of 14 needed to get a FTTN deployed to a premise.
“The metrics under each [step] have thresholds higher than what is needed to meet the corporate plan. We do this to allow for any unexpected challenges, as is prudent in a newly established process. This contingency management is something that any large project management organisation will do and is exactly what was happening here,” said Morrow.
Morrow also responded to allegations that the cost of the FTTN rollout had blown out.
“This is not true,” he said.
“There will always be a balancing across the entire plan, where some parts are higher and some parts are lower than what was forecast but in the case of FTTN, our actuals to date and forecasted Cost Per Premises (CPP) remains at $2,300.”
In terms of the ongoing complaints about FTTN speeds, Morrow said the NBN company had gone through every single complaint received by MPs on this issue.
“… the numbers are actually very small given the scale of the rollout,” said Morrow.
“We found that of the issues reported to their offices, as well as those reported through the RSPs and us directly – none were directly related to the FTTN technology itself or the copper circuit. The majority related to installation issues, the type of modem end users were sent, the timing of existing services being switched over, and the understandable frustration of missed appointments.”
“There were also a number of speed complaints, particularly speeds dropping during peak times. This is not related to the technology, it is exactly the same on FTTP, and is mostly a function of the manner in which a few of the RSPs have dimensioned their capacity.”
Morrow said fault rates on Telstra’s copper network were higher than for other technologies such as FTTP, but that the copper fault rate was “in line with what was expected”.
“1.4 per cent of the circuits in use have required repairs,” he said. “This is roughly in line with what other copper network operators are reporting.”
“I would like to reiterate again how the company is accelerating the roll out; it is on track, on budget, and performing as expected. Our end-users, RSPs, Delivery Partners, and employees are reporting higher engagement and satisfaction levels than ever before.”
“The facts are what they are and the thousands of employees and partners have delivered within the parameters defined by the Government and consistent with the objectives defined in the corporate plan. Regardless of one’s preference of technology, the current mix is the fastest and least cost approach to bringing broadband to all Australians.”
Image credit: Parliamentary Broadcasting