This is big. It’s been a tough couple of years for the NBN team – pressure from all angles to tell us what we’re getting and when, but following a change of government and in turn a complete change in the construction and roll-out strategy there’s been a void of information for the majority of Australians.
I’ve spoken to NBN CEO Bill Morrow several times, most notably when he sat with me in the Radio 2UE studio and took calls from listeners directly with questions and or concerns about the NBN.
One problematic question was simply “when will I get it”. Reading between the lines of Bill’s answers I could tell he was confident. He had a plan. But being a government agency with strict scrutiny they’ve got to be able to release a plan they can stick to.
Now, let’s be clear, the timing here for the government, let alone the new Prime Minister is excellent. From now until the election some time next year – they’ve got the ability to say to almost all Australians that they can simply log onto the NBN website and find out when the service will commence construction.
Critically, these are construction dates, so there is still a lead time there, and if you put that at 6 months for the more complex Fibre to the Node installations, we’re still pushing closer to the 2020 date which Bill Morrow has been confidently sprucing as the date all Australians would have the NBN.
Key to this announcement as we’ve indicated before is the inclusion of the HFC (Hybrid Fibre Coaxial) “Cable” network with close to three million of the 9.5 million homes now included in the roll-out plan getting the NBN via this method.
The NBN has simply purchased the Cable networks from Optus and Telstra, and will be upgrading it to a new technology allowing for greater speeds both up and down which delivers more than the minimum commitment the government has made.
We now also know that 5.6 million homes will use “Fibre to the Node” technology (FTTN) to get their high-speed internet, utilising the existing copper phone network for the last run into the home, with Fibre connectivity on the “street corner”.
A staggering 540,000 homes and businesses will be covered by fixed wireless, and of course with the recent Satellite launch there is a bunch of additional connections there, as well as the already delivered Fibre to the Home (FTTH) roll-out and any new construction (FTTH).
Bu September 2018 construction will have commenced or been completed to around 2.8 million NSW homes, 2.5million in Victoria, 1.9 million in Queensland, almost a million in Western Australia, 750,000 in South Australia, 72,000 in the Northern Territory and 134,000 in the ACT. All of Tasmania will have a working NBN connection before September 2018 making it the first state to switch in full.
It’s very political of course, with the new Communications Minister Mitch Fifield’s office saying “Rollout progress under Labor was slow and costly. The nbn only managed to pass 260,000 premises during the previous term of government.”
“Under the Coalition, nbn has shaved years off construction time while still delivering superfast broadband of at least 50 megabits per second to 90 per cent of the fixed line footprint. ”
While it’s a very direct statement, it’s a pretty solid commitment. What it doesn’t say is how many would have been connected by FTTH if the original Labor plans were still in place – and no, we can’t look at what they “said” it was going to be way back then, because anyone who doesn’t believe it was going to be behind time and over budget is delusional.
Already today over 1.3 million homes and businesses have NBN access, with the number under construction taking that to two million, so the figure of 9.5 million homes with access or (in the main) under construction by September 2018 is a pretty staggering leap.
When you look closely at the roll out, areas being hit with construction in the coming months have a month to month roll-out date listed, that stretches to a quarterly then half-yearly number as you get further out toward September 2018 – understandably to account for any slippage in the program of works.
From 9am (Friday 16th) you can log in to the NBN website to view the construction plan for your area. And with 9.5 million homes within the areas listed, it would be the most disappointing thing to not be covered in this list.
While I wish beyond all hope that we had been working toward a FTTH solution for all, this Multi-Technology mix being presented and planned now is clearly an effective and efficient method of delivering the speeds Australians are searching for. Utilisation of the HFC network – I believe – will go down as one of the smartest tactical decisions of this entire program, from the days when Labor kicked it off until completion int 2020.
And for me, First half of 2017 – bring it on:)