NBN Co has just announced 900,000 new locations that will get fibre upgrades just one day after hundreds of technicians walked off the job.
On Tuesday morning NBN released a big new list of suburbs of towns across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia that are now pegged for fibre to the premises (FTTP) upgrades.
According to NBN Co this will enable an additional 900,000 households and businesses to access 1 Gbps NBN speeds by 2023. NBN Co expects that some customers will be able to place new fibre orders November, 2021.
This means these premises will be able to go from much slower Fibre to the Node (FTTN) connection to FTTP. But it won’t just be FTTN connections getting ‘last mile’ upgrades to reach 1 Gbps speeds. $400 million will also be used for hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) upgrades and a further $100 million into fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC) upgrades.
Surprisingly, NBN Co also announced today that some Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) premises would also be available for upgrades on demand. This is interesting because FTTC is a comparatively newer technology, and one of the faster non-FTTP options on the network.
“NBN Co is currently engaged in consultation with internet retailers to define the process by which customers living in eligible premises currently served by FTTN or FTTC will be informed that their premises is eligible to receive higher speed services,” NBN Co said in a press release.
However, to qualify for an upgrade from FTTN, users need to order a 100/20 or 250/25 plan.
NBN Co also confirmed today that 97 per cent of Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) connections in Australia can access NBN 250 speed tiers. Around 58 per cent are able to access NBN 1000 speed tiers.
Here’s a full list of the new towns and suburbs that have been announced for fibre upgrades. This is the first time that Tasmania, the ACT and Northern Territory have appeared on the list of fibre upgrades:
These surprise upgrades are the latest in the Coalitions plan to upgrade half the NBN network to full fibre. This initiative was first announced for both residential premises and businesses in late 2020.
This came seven years after the Coalition changed Labor’s plans for an NBN network that was majority fibre.
Still, despite backflipping on its decision, Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher said that, “The 2013 decision by the Coalition to roll out the NBN quickly, then phase upgrades around emerging demand, has served Australia well.”
Since NBN first began rolling out the cost has blown out exponentially and it has missed multiple completion deadlines.
Financing for the fibre upgrades is being provided by private debt markets. This is in conjunction with the refinancing of the $19.5 billion Commonwealth government loan for the NBN network roll out.
This news comes one day after an NBN technician strike
The timing on this ‘good news’ comes just 24 hours after hundreds NBN technicians walked off job due to pay cuts, poor treatment, issues with job bookings and scheduling as well as a ‘pyramid contracting model’.
This occurred after a Communications Union (CEPU) on Monday morning and resulted in some of the workers striking outside of NBN Co’s office in North Sydney.
According to the CEPU, “NBN contracts work to their ‘delivery partners’ who then sub-contract that work to their ‘principle contractors’ who then either subcontract it again, or hire low paid, under skilled workers to complete a job they haven’t been properly trained to perform.”
“The mismanagement of Australia’s NBN network continues to be left unaddressed and workers have had enough,” CEPU National President, Shane Murphy, said in a press release.
Issues with the work bookings app was also raised. It’s our understanding that the app takes a long time for a booking to be marked as complete and that technicians are unable to move onto another job until this occurs.
The CEPU also took issue with the reduction of pay when NBN Executives and staff received $77 million in bonuses in the latter half of 2020.
NBN Co confirmed with Gizmodo Australia that it is currently in talks with the union but it’s unclear if they have come to an agreement or if further action will be taken by CEPU.
Hopefully this can be sorted out soon so these fancy FTTP upgrades can actually be installed for customers.