NBN costs just keep getting more and more expensive. It's nothing new. Documents leaked recently are suggesting that the FTTN plan's reliance on the existing copper network bought from Telstra could cost NBN Co up to $641 million in repairs.
Back when the coalition took control of the NBN, the plan was changed from providing Fibre To The Premises to utilising the existing copper network with a Fibre To The Node connection. The idea was that this would be able to be built faster and cheaper, though it sacrificed the speed the end user would get from their connection. As it turns out, however, even the FTTN plan keeps ballooning in both the cost and the time needed to build it.
Recently we covered the technology that can theoretically allow copper to provide speeds of up to 970Mbps, however there are still a huge number of problems with the copper network — including the fact that it is in a far worse state that the company providing the NBN had expected.
"[The] state of the copper network is considerably worse than expected, leading to extensive work beyond the node," leaked documents sighted by iTnews stated. While initial estimates placed the cost of remediating the copper at $2685 per node, the documents suggest that this figure is going to end up closer to $26,115 per node — a huge discrepancy. With the NBN scheduled to build 24,544 nodes before 2019, the total cost to repair the degraded copper connections is going to come in at $641 million. This doesn't include the estimated $520 million figure that will be needed to conned so-called "high-cost" premises that are situated a large distance from their respective nodes. As a result, costs for the network are likely to end up as high as $56 billion, compared to the original $41 billion estimate.
It's not only money that these repairs are going to cost the NBN — it's time. Repairing the damaged copper network is now going to be a much bigger task than expected, taking longer than anyone had planned for. Failure to properly remediate the copper could result in poor end user speeds.
"Risks and mitigation plans for the network are outlined in the corporate plan, and the revised peak funding figure takes these scenarios into account," the company said in a statement to iTnews. "We have produced a peak funding range and provided a contingency, as prudent measures to manage a project of this size and complexity."
The Opposition's Communications Minister Jason Clare couldn't help but have a dig, labelling the company's prior assumptions about copper remediation as "massively wrong". "In the private sector, you would be sacked for this sort of incompetence," he said. "Malcolm Turnbull’s management of the NBN can now only be described as a debacle."