NBN Co meets 2012 construction target

NBN Co commenced or completed construction on 758,000 premises by the end of 2012 for the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced in August last year that NBN Co was targeting the milestone by the end of 2012.

Construction commenced or was completed on 784,592 premises by the end of last year.

“The National Broadband Network is an ambitious project which requires the efforts of many people working co-operatively towards a common goal. To have achieved our year-end target is both pleasing for all involved and a clear indication that the NBN project is ramping up to full volume rollout,” Mike Quigley, NBN Co’s CEO, said in a statement.

NBN Co classifies construction commencing on premises once it has issued instructions to its contractors for a fibre service access module, which covers around 2000 to 3000 premises.

However, Malcolm Turnbull, shadow minister for communications and broadband, has strongly contested the measurement of construction commenced for the NBN and has called it a “nonsense figure”.

“Now, what the NBN does, and this is I think a deliberate effort to mislead people ... is they use a metric that is used nowhere else in the industry that I've ever heard of, and this is premises in areas where construction has commenced or has been completed...” he told the ABC's PM program in November last year.

“Now there are two metrics that are really relevant. The most relevant one is obviously premises where you have an active service, where you actually are connected and you've got a customer that's paying you good money for that service.

“The second one is what they describe as premises passed, which is when the fibre is going past a premise.”

Four companies are responsible for rolling out the NBN across Australia – Silcar in NSW, Queensland and the ACT; Transfield in Victoria; Syntheo in the NT, SA and WA; and Visionstream in Tasmania.

Contractor work includes designs, physical visits to the sites of pit and pipe infrastructure and rolling out the passive network.

Meeting the next target could prove harder for NBN Co, with the goal of passing 286,000 premises by the end of June this year.

A premise is deemed as 'passed' when customers are able to connect to the NBN.

At a hearing to the Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network in October last year, Quigley said he was confident of meeting the June target. However, he said it is up to the companies rolling out the network to meet that target.

“It is largely in their hands now, and it is the private sector who is doing it. And that is routine, by the way. Very few telcos these days, anywhere in the world, have their own workforces that do this type of work. They do not build the networks themselves,” he said.

Ralph Steffens, chief operating officer at NBN Co, told the hearing a steep ramp-up was required in brownfield sites in order to meet the June target.

“There will be a steep ramp which will then level out and we will have then a sustainable run rate. It is a challenging program – it is a challenging ramp we have ahead of us – but we are confident that all the work is now handed over to the construction partners,” he said.

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