Friday, 31 August 2018 11:17

NBN Co says rollout by 2020, but HFC, wireless take a toll Featured

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The rollout of Australia's national broadband network will be completed by 2020 as has been repeatedly stated, the company behind the rollout, NBN Co, said during the presentation of its corporate plan for 2019-2022 on Friday.

The presentation marked the change of leadership from Bill Morrow to Stephen Rue in the role of chief executive. The only mention of Morrow was by Communications Minister Mitch Fifield during his introductory remarks.

But earlier advertised targets have been compromised to some extent by the travails of the HFC network — activations were suspended in November last year and only resumed recently — and also issues dogging the fixed wireless network.

The company said it was predicting a total outlay of $51 billion on what has been the biggest project undertaken by the government.

The HFC issues have reduced forecast activations in the latest plan to four million (from 4.4 million forecast in the previous corporate plan) for FY18; 5.5 million (6.9 million) in FY19; 7.5 million (8.1 million) in FY 20 and 8.4 million (8.6 million) in FY21.

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In dollar terms, the HFC debacle has set back NBN Co by about $900 million, with $200 million of this being an additional investment on network optimisation.

The fixed wireless upgrades have cost the company some $8000 million. And wholesale pricing changes have had an effect to the tune of $700 million in revenue.

The company's summary of outcomes was:

  • On track for rollout completion with 11.7 million premises ready to connect and 8.1 million homes and businesses with an active service;
  • More than $1 billion investment in total capacity upgrades on the fixed wireless network up to FY22;
  • Total revenue of $3.9 billion in FY20 with improved customer experience initiatives;
  • Internal rate of return of 3.2% with measurable additional economic and social benefits; and
  • Peak funding within range at $51 billion – inclusive of $1 billion contingency.

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Rue said: “NBN Co is undergoing a significant period as we work to complete the build, improve customer experience and position our business for the future. The corporate plan 2019-22 is our blueprint for how we will navigate the complexity and deliver on our goals to provide affordable access to all Australians by 2020.

“We know the network is already having a significant impact on the lives of Australians and the economy, helping to drive the growth of new businesses, industry productivity, jobs, educational opportunities and access to healthcare options.

nbn co three

“There will inevitably be challenges in the remainder of the build – some known, some new. But our ability to deploy the network at speed and scale is evident, and we’re well-positioned to continue enhancing customer experience and delivering access to the benefits of high-speed broadband to all Australians.”

Graphics: courtesy NBN Co

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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