NBN still aiming for 2020 completion

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NBN still aiming for 2020 completion

NBN Co's latest corporate plan predicts more than 9 million homes and businesses will be serviceable by 2018, with effective completion still expected by 2020.

Of the 9.1 million homes and businesses expected to be "ready for service" by 2018, 4.4 million are expected to have actually signed up with an NBN service provider.

Those numbers involve a doubling of the number of connectable premises during each of the next three years, thanks in part to the plans to increase the size of the construction workforce, the commercial release of fibre to the building services starting this quarter, the commercial release of non-interim satellite services in the second half of 2016, and the absorption and upgrading of the existing Telstra and Optus HFC networks following the successful completion of the HFC trial.

If that doubling sounds optimistic, it was very nearly achieved in the 2014-15 financial year just with FTTP and fixed wireless. Still, NBN Co does warn that achieving the expected progress is contingent on the condition of the copper and HFC networks it is acquiring from Telstra and Optus, noting that it has "limited information" on this point.

NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow said "the recent regulatory approval of the Telstra agreement and the draft approval of the Optus deal... will help us to meet our goal of ensuring that every home and business in Australia can receive fast broadband by 2020 so we can spur the digital economy and close the digital divide."

Construction of the NBN in the Northern Territory and Tasmania is expected to be completed by 2018, along with "the majority" of the satellite and fixed wireless services for rural, regional and remote communities.

Migration of satellite customers from the interim service to the long-term service is expected to occur over the next two years.

The fixed-line rollout in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, and Western Australia should be around 70 percent complete by that time.

But approximately two-thirds of the ACT rollout will be left until after 2018. We can't see any obvious clues in the report to explain that timing, but we understand that the ACT has relatively good existing broadband services. It's also possible that an early completion of the NBN in the ACT would be politically unacceptable.

For all the talk in some quarters that improvements in mobile broadband technology will largely remove the need for a fixed network, NBN Co's plan points to ABS figures showing that mobile traffic has remained stable at only 7 percent of total internet traffic.

NBN Co's latest weekly summary shows 1,219,307 premises are passed or covered, of which 546,848 have been activated. 

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