The National Broadband Network released its 2016 yearly results today, showing the rollout “continues to exceed its connection and financial targets”. A spokesperson for Senator Mitch Fifield, Minister for Communications says this is “the latest evidence of the benefits of the Coalition’s faster, more affordable NBN rollout”.
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NBN targets have been a source of contention, with moving goalposts and a lack of transparency being the main criticisms — and NBN seeking changes from the ACCC to the nature and extent of reporting commitments for rollout progress hasn’t exactly helped.
Each of its targets for nine consecutive quarters has now been hit, NBN says, boasting “an unbroken run for over two years”, with Fifield’s spokesperson calling it proof that “the Coalition’s multi-technology mix NBN is enabling more Australians to experience the benefits of high-speed broadband as quickly as possible”.
Fibre to the distribution point is name-checked in NBN’s results, as part of the mix of “all major products” — including fibre to the node, fibre to the premises, hybrid fibre-coaxial cable, two satellites, fixed wireless — that have now been launched. FTTDP is still in testing, but offers a half-way point between the comparatively simple network rollout schema of fibre to the node and the superior connectivity and future-proofing of fibre to the premises.
The latest target from the NBN was 2.632 million homes ready for service and 955,000 premises activated, which were beaten by over 250,000 and 100,000 premises respectively in this report.
NBN says that 1.2 million customers are now on the ready-for-service segments of the nationwide network, attributing the growth to the speed of connections. “That’s up from just 51,000 customers connected to the built network when Labor was in charge of the rollout,” Fifield’s spokesperson boasts, “More than 20 times as many customers in less than three years”.
NBN’s full-year financials come just as the Wall Street Journal details the slowing success of Google Fiber in the US, with the world’s largest technology company looking to wireless to improve the speed of network rollouts in cities.
“The cost of living matters to the Coalition,” Fifield’s spokesperson says. “So the Government has instructed NBN to continue rolling out the network as economically as possible”. Fifield’s spokesperson says this is “in sharp contrast” to Labor’s latest broadband policy, which he says “would have added $8 billion more to the cost of the NBN network.”
The national broadband network company spent $609 million on employee expenses in the 2016 financial year. Revenue from the network doubled from $164 million to $421 million, a significant rise over the corporate plan’s target for $300 million and largely spurred on by the 156 per cent growth in end user numbers.
One in four households around the country can now order an NBN service, and two out of three have their location covered either by network planning, the actual build-out or are already completed. 70 per cent of those locations are in non-metro or regional areas, a figure made possible by the comparative ease of adding services — including in previous years — to the fixed wireless and satellite customer base.
NBN is aiming to reach almost half of all Australian households by mid-2017.