NBN Co: Three-quarters of residents consent to fibre

 

East and west OK but sites slow to catch on north and south.

NBN Co has reported the first statistics on how many residents have consented to NBN fibre connecting their premises.

Chief executive officer Mike Quigley told a Senate Estimates committee hearing that an average of 77 percent of residents in four of the five mainland first-release sites wanted to connect to the National Broadband Network.

He said 87 percent of the residents in the NSW regional town of Armidale agreed to fibre, followed by Willunga (SA, 84 percent) and Kiama/Minnamurra Downs (NSW, 74 percent).

But Townsville in far north Queensland was lagging with just 54 percent of consent forms returned; Quigley said he "expected that figure to kick up in the next couple of weeks".

There was no reported figure for consent form return rates in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick - to be built by Telstra - because it was awarded later.

NBN Co was recently forced to extend the deadline for the return of consent forms, which it attributed to the Federal Election.

And consent may not be required in the future if states followed Tasmania's lead in proposing to make the NBN "opt-out" rather than "opt-in" - a proposal that even caught Quigley by surprise.

Business plan

Quigley provided a lengthy opening statement to the committee, which was interrupted at points by Liberal senators with calls including that they were "bored".

It revealed that he would present NBN Co's three-year business plan to its board this Friday.

Subject to the board's approval, it would then be presented to Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy the following Friday and then to cabinet at a later date before details would be made public.

And Quigley said the NBN Co board had recently agreed to signed the Government business enterprise's first annual report that included unconsolidated financial statements audited by the Australian National Audit Office.

He expected it to be tabled "in the near future",

Data centres

Quigley confirmed the timeline for building NBN Co's data centres - news of which was broken by iTnews.

He said  the company "expected to have the first one [online] in December this year and a second one to be completed in March of next year."

Spectrum

The Government gave its clearest indication yet that NBN Co would not rely on the digital dividend spectrum - to be freed be the switchover to digital TV - for the NBN wireless network.

Senator Conroy said he thought it "unlikely" that NBN Co would bid for 700 MHz spectrum in auctions due to take place in 2014.

Quigley said there was a "range of spectrum options" available to deploy a fixed-wireless service.

"We're continuing to look at each of those," he said.

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NBN Co: Three-quarters of residents consent to fibre
Mike Quigley, NBN Co CEO.
 
 
 
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