NBN Co activates 8000 HFC lines since sales freeze lifted

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NBN Co activates 8000 HFC lines since sales freeze lifted

Continues to refuse to quantify financial impact of freeze.

NBN Co has re-released 92,000 HFC premises to market since lifting a sales freeze on the access technology in late April, of which 8000 have managed to activate a service.

The company provided an update on its numbers following an iTnews report that only 1192 out of almost 40,000 premises had managed to activate an HFC connection in the two months following the sales freeze being lifted.

The new figures mean that the number of activations as a percentage of re-released premises in the HFC footprint has lifted from three percent to eight percent.

Chief financial officer Stephen Rue said that the ratios of activations to re-released premises “doesn’t cause concern” for NBN Co.

It is likely to be a concern for the company’s retail service provider (RSP) partners, however, during the current reporting season, with most facing downturns in fixed line businesses caused by their inability to sell HFC connections or - in some cases - to collect migration payments while HFC sales were frozen.

NBN Co froze HFC sales between December 11 last year and late April this year.

Rue said the re-release schedule for the 1.38 million premises impacted by the sales freeze was deliberate.

“When we released the product back to market, we chose to treat it as a product relaunch,” he told a parliamentary committee.

“We worked carefully through our processes and through the processes of our partners ... to make sure the service delivery partners who will be doing the connections for us have their processes in place.

“We wanted to make sure that the experience of the customers coming onto the network was what you would expect.

“So rather than rush through a relaunch of the product we deliberately took a sensible approach of delivering the product [again].

“You will see over coming months an acceleration of the release of footprint back into the market, and we’re very confident that the retailers will have great confidence in selling the product.”

Telstra’s financial hit from the HFC freeze came in at $735 million, slightly higher than forecast. This was mostly the result of not being able to collect migration payments during the freeze.

Optus has also disclosed a one percent decline in operating revenue in its mass market fixed line business, which it attributed to “the temporary suspension of the NBN HFC connections.”

At the parliamentary committee, NBN Co also continued to refuse to release any numbers on how the sales freeze has impacted its own economics.

Pressed by Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John and Labor Senator Deborah O’Neill, Rue said he was only in a position to give Senators “the same answer … I always give you.”

NBN Co has consistently rebuffed questions of financial impact, saying that they will be detailed in the company’s forthcoming corporate plan update, which is due out at the end of the month.

The corporate plan is due to go before the NBN Co board one final time next Tuesday before being passed to its shareholder - the government - for final approval and release.

Rue said NBN Co’s planning processes were “very detailed” and granular, and this was one reason the company could not release any figures around the HFC sales freeze impact.

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