NBN Co has seen 700,000 phantom premises drop off its planned network footprint, confirming the sizable effect of poor map data it has been relying on in the build phase of the project.
CEO Bill Morrow said back in May that the number of premises in the rollout had turned out to be “literally in the hundreds of thousands different – fewer – than we what we thought we, as a nation, had”.
He blamed inaccuracies in the G-NAF geospatial database used in NBN planning, noting that the database listed premises on blocks where there was no structure at all.
With NBN Co passing the halfway mark of the rollout, the effect of the bad data has been laid bare: NBN Co’s estimated footprint is now 700,000 fewer than was assumed in the last corporate plan.
Where the last corporate plan estimated the network would reach 11.9 premises by 2020, iTnews has confirmed that the figure has now been revised down to 11.2 million.
How that effects the company’s revenue and cost per premise assumptions is unlikely to be known for another two months, when the next version of NBN Co’s corporate plan is expected to be made public.
Morrow in May warned to brace for some pain.
“This of course will have an impact on some of our forecasts and we will set this in our corporate plan later this year," he said at the time.
NBN Co does not consider the 11.2 million to be the final number of premises it will connect to the network by 2020.
For example, the greenfields portion of the network will continue to grow between now and then, enabling the company to potentially bridge some of the gap back to the initial 11.9 million figure.
The network builder on Monday reached a major milestone in the project, announcing half of all premises in the build - "over 5.7 million" - were now ready for service (RFS).
"The rollout remains on track and will be available to every home and business across Australia by 2020," communications minister Mitch Fifield said in a statement.