NBN Co meets reduced target for network rollout

ACCC seeks comment again on proposed changes to Special Access Undertaking

NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley

NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley

NBN Co has passed 207,500 premises with fibre as of 30 June, meeting the company’s revised end-of-financial-year target.

However, the figure falls well below the NBN Co’s original goal of 341,000 premises by June this year.

In February, NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley downgraded the forecast to 286,000 because of construction delays from Syntheo. In March, NBN Co slashed the June target again to between 190,000 and 220,000.

At the end of FY2013, the total number of families and businesses with NBN services was 70,100; four times as many as there were at the end of FY 2012, NBN Co said.

Of those, 33,600 had NBN fibre services, seven times more than at the end of FY 2012, it said.

NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley said the figures renew NBN Co’s “confidence” that it will reach all Australians in the next eight years.

“Premises such as blocks of apartments and large office blocks have always provided challenges to companies rolling out telecommunications networks,” he said.

“The key difference between the NBN and other networks – such as hybrid fibre coaxial (or cable TV) – is that we will provide NBN services to every home and business that orders a service.”

“We’re currently working with our delivery partners to do just that. Steps include the work orders we have placed with Downer EDI Engineering Pty Ltd, Daly International Pty Ltd, ISG Management Pty Ltd and Universal Communications Group Limited to connect multi-dwelling units ... to the NBN.”

The figures failed to impress shadow communications minister Malcolm Turnbull, who issued a statement questioning how NBN Co counted. He said that a third of existing premises passed can't actually connect to the network.

"In South Perth, more than nine in 10 premises ‘passed’ cannot connect to the network," Turnbull said. "The NBN must now undergo a rigorous audit so that the public knows exactly where the project is up to, and how much it will cost in time and dollars to complete the project under Labor."

Also today, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) sought comment on a draft variation notice outlining proposed changes to the Special Access Undertaking offered by NBN Co.

The SAU will govern NBN Co's wholesale pricing and operations as the sole wholesaler for the National Broadband Network (NBN) for the next 30 years.

The ACCC draft variation notice follows up on proposals made by the agency in April to increase its role in NBN oversight and remove a number of non-price terms from the scope of the undertaking. The ACCC’s revisions reflect comments collected from the NBN Co, industry and other stakeholders.

“Specific matters which have been considered in further detail include: processes for setting revenue constraints, NBN Co’s rate of return, the scope of ‘fixed principles’ within the SAU, mechanisms relating to product introduction and withdrawal, and how tax changes should be treated,” said ACCC chairman Rod Sims.

The ACCC said it will collect comments on its latest paper until 26 July and then issue a formal variation notice “as soon as practicable.” At that point, NBN Co may make changes to its original SAU if it chooses.

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