The Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher has announced that the NBN is now 99% complete.
NBN Co has already reached its 2019-20 end-of-year target of delivering National Broadband Network (NBN) connectivity for 11.5 million homes and businesses across Australia.
“Since the beginning of the year, more than 1 million premises have been declared Ready to Connect and more than 600,000 homes and businesses have signed up for an NBN service.
The resilience the NBN has shown in recent months, with more people working and studying at home, underlines the network’s strength and adaptability. The NBN has cemented its place as the nation’s digital backbone for productivity, connectivity and social cohesion.
In 2013 our Liberal National Government inherited an NBN which was a failing project, with barely more than 50,000 fixed line premises connected.
We committed to a turnaround – with the NBN to be rolled out four years more quickly and for $30 billion less than under Labor’s plan – and we have delivered. 11.5 million premises are now able to connect, the volume rollout is 99 per cent complete and almost 70 per cent of NBN customers are on 50Mbps or higher plans.
Over this period NBN’s financial performance has steadily improved, with 2019-20 revenue forecast at $3.7 billion and the company planned to be cash flow positive by 2023-24.
The company’s priorities from here include continuing investment in, and focus on, driving the performance of the network and progressing the very final stages of the build so that every Australian has access to fast broadband.
The $6.1 billion in debt finance NBN Co has secured on external markets demonstrates the strong support for the company’s business plan and outlook and the capacity to invest.”Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher
Obviously there’s been much debate about the accuracy of those figures, but given we can’t redo history to prove otherwise, it’s a fairly irrelevant discussion at this late stage of the project. What is worth debating is the plan for NBN stage 2, that addresses these customers who remain copper-restricted to speeds of less than 50Mbps, while others on FTTP now have access to 1Gbps.
If you’re wondering where the 11.5 million figure comes from, it’s an estimate of the number of addressable premises in Australia. The last full weekly progress report (28 May 2020), shows that just 7,134,899 premises have activated a service on the NBN. Clearly there’s still much work to be done in promoting the benefits of the NBN and getting the more than 3 million people who could, to migrate.
Some complex connections, such as culturally significant and heritage sites, that will be completed as soon as practicable. Bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic have interrupted some planned connections.
The actual number of premises that need to be connected is essentially a moving target, with new estates being added all the time.
Later this year NBN Co will provide formal advice to Minister Fletcher when it considers the volume rollout complete. The Minister will then request the company undertake a detailed technical assessment of its network.
The outcome of the assessment will inform the Minister’s decision to declare the network built and fully operational under the NBN Companies Act.