NBN Co aims to serve 1 million premises by next July

'We are accelerating,' says NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow

NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow announced upbeat targets for FY 2015.

NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow announced upbeat targets for FY 2015.

NBN Co aims to have National Broadband Network service available to about 1 million homes and businesses in financial-year 2014-15, up from 552,000 in FY 2013-14, CEO Bill Morrow said today as the company announced financial results for the 12-month period ended 30 June 2014.

If NBN Co meets the goal, it would mean that by 30 June 2015 one in 10 Australians would be able to order an NBN service.

This “premises serviceable” figure is different than the “premises passed” metric previously used by NBN Co, which counted homes and businesses in areas where NBN fibre had been laid but were not able to order a service.

In addition, by the end of FY 2015, NBN Co hopes to have 480,000 premises activated, up from 210,000 in FY 2014. NBN Co aims to achieve $150 million in revenue, up from $60 million in FY 2014.

“There is some banter in the press … that we’re slowing down,” Morrow said. “We’re not.”

“No matter how you look at it, we are accelerating, and our commitment this year is to do the same.”

Of course, much of NBN Co’s pace depends on the conclusion of negotiations with Telstra for access to the telco's copper network to roll out fibre-to-the-node. Morrow said that an agreement is “months not weeks away,” and definitely less than a year.

“Complexity is slowing it down,” Morrow said. A framework has been agreed to, but lawyers from each side are working out the specific language, he said.

“Oftentimes, the devil is in the detail, and you throw some good attorneys on each side of the table and they are very good with the English language [and it takes] a bit more time than we would all like.”

NBN Co chief operating officer Greg Adcock said NBN Co talks are progressing with Optus and Telstra on using their hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC ) networks as part of the multi-technology model NBN.

In FY 2013-14, NBN Co more than doubled the number of serviceable premises to 553,000, up from 227,000 in the previous financial year. The number of active NBN users tripled to 210,000 from 70,000 a year ago.

NBN Co increased revenue by 300 per cent to $61 million. Average revenue per user (ARPU) remained stable at $37.34 per month.

NBN Co spent $2.5 billion on capital and $1.1 billion on operations. The company received a total of $8.4 billion in equity funding.

NBN Co will not issue a new corporate strategic plan until all government reviews of the project are completed, Morrow said.

Cleaning up

A major goal of NBN Co is to improve customer satisfaction, the CEO said. Morrow said that while customers using the NBN have shown high levels of satisfaction, a lengthier-than-expected installation process has left many Australians cold.

A NBN “cleanup” program aims to connect premises classified as “passed” but in fact lack lead-ins to the network, said Morrow.

The 12-month cleanup program is part of an NBN Co effort to fix low customer satisfaction scores on installation and to paint a more accurate picture of how many premises actually have access to NBN service.

Adcock said there is “a high focus on ensuring that we close the gap and make serviceable premises the norm at the time of declaring any area ready for service for RSPs to sell into.”

“Our cleanup program involves us going back to every [fibre serving area modules (FSAMs)] that had previously been declared ready for service on the premises-passed [basis], and installing lead ins and getting the premise connection device on the side of the house…”

NBN Co has been revamping its construction contracts, Adcock said.

“We’ll be looking to better apportion risk by separating the design and construction component,” he said.

NBN Co will be “combining all the construction elements of the multi-technology design into a single contract with a requirement to complete construction to the standards that makes end-user premises readily serviceable,” he said.

Contracts will have longer terms and cover wider geographic areas, he said. NBN Co will change the “manner and timing in which we recognize completion of activity, and therefore smoothing the cash flow for our delivery partners.”

Read more: NBN cost-benefit analysis signals the end of an era

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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