Monday, 24 August 2015 13:10

NBN Co says 9 million homes by 2018: believable? Featured

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After previously promising 8 million homes by 2020, NBN Co now says at least a million more homes will be connected two years sooner - do we believe it?

nbn, the company building the NBN network, which has already built itself a new logo, says in a media release today that 9.1 million homes and businesses will be ‘ready for service by 2018.’

The news comes as part of its ‘comprehensive corporate plan’, which iTWire colleague Graeme Philipson also wrote about this morning in terms of nbn, the company, unsurprisingly hitting its ‘revised’ targets

The company explains that ‘the introduction of additional technologies, a projected boost to the size of the construction workforce and newly-signed agreements with the construction industry are anticipated to see the total number of premises that are able to connect double over each of the next three years to 9.1 million.’

It also advises there will be an eight-fold increase on today to 4.4 million activations 2018, a ten-fold increased to $1.7 billion in annual revenue for FY18, and that construction is set to be ‘complete in Tasmania and the Northern Territory.’

nbn says these forecasts ‘are contained in the company’s first comprehensive Corporate Plan, which was published today’, but at the Corporate Plan page of the nbn site, it’s not there yet at time of publication.

The plan that is there at the moment, surely soon to be replaced, is the Corporate Plan covering 2014-2017 released in November 2014 - so keep a look out at the link above for when the old plan is replaced by the new plan.

nbn’s CEO, Bill Morrow said: “This is a bold plan that puts us in striking distance of our ultimate goal of delivering better broadband to every Australian by 2020.

“The steps we have taken over the past 12 months have already delivered increases in revenue, activations and serviceable premises. The work to date has also given us a more accurate picture of the actual costs of the build.

“This enables us to set the course for the move to the exponential growth of the rollout.”

Of course, nbn the company has had bold plans ever since it was dreamt up in a short plane flight from between Sydney and Canberra by former PM, Kevin Rudd, and former Communications Minister and fan of red underpants on people’s heads, Stephen Conroy, but let’s not let a pair of underwear get in the way of providing high-speed broadband here, there and everywhere.

nbn says its ‘revenue targets are underscored by growing data and usage patterns’, and points to ABS (Aust Bureau of Stats) data showing ‘the average amount of data downloaded per month continues to grow: from 5GB per month in FY08 to nearly 60GB today,’ and that ‘globally, video traffic online is expected to triple by 2019, with applications extending beyond entertainment to education, e-health and video conferencing for business.’

Did someone say Netflix?

As for bridging Australia’s digital divide, Morrow noted ‘the Corporate Plan estimates an increase in peak funding for the build. However the amount remains significantly lower than the total cost of an all-fibre optic network and the equity contribution of the Government remains capped.’

Morrow said: “Upgrading the telecommunications infrastructure for an entire continent will always be an ambitious undertaking. But the risks are outweighed by the benefits.

“For instance, the rollout is expected to be complete in the Northern Territory and Tasmania during the period of this Corporate Plan. The nbn network will be a game changer for these economies and Australia as a whole, enabling greater participation in the global digital economy and helping close the digital divide.”

Well, let’s hope so. Once the nbn network is supposedly complete, the game will certainly change - 5G’s introduction will be two years off, and if nbn speeds still can’t handle Netflix properly, which may well be offering a vast wealth of 4K content by then, the clamour for a full fibre upgrade may not be quelled.

We shall see, but until then, may nbn’s plans not get waylaid by mice, men nor the madness of government!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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