NBN Co said the “specific” number of premises in fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) areas that are eligible for a free fibre upgrade under its $2.9 billion overbuild program “is not known” before construction is completed.
The operator has progressively released lists of cities and towns that are currently served by FTTN infrastructure where it says “eligible premises in parts” of these locations will be able to request a full fibre service.
With upgrades now officially under trial, it is still extremely difficult for FTTN users, even in named trial suburb locations, to determine if they are eligible or not, and which retail service providers (RSPs) are participating.
A Whirlpool forum poster said yesterday they had been proactively offered what appears to be a place on the trial. The identity of the RSP is unclear.
The reason for the vacuum of information may be that even NBN Co doesn’t really know which premises are going to be eligible or not.
The company made the surprise reveal late yesterday [pdf] in response to questions asked by Labor senators during the most recent senate estimates hearings.
“For each suburb selected for the on-demand FTTP program, the specific number of premises within that area who are eligible is not known until the completion of the detailed design and physical construction of the local fibre network in that area,” NBN Co said.
“Once the design and local fibre network construction are completed in each area, the specific individual premises that are eligible are communicated to retail service providers via NBN Co’s relevant IT systems.”
NBN Co said that it would only “have an exact number of premises that will be made ready to order (RTO) around 10 weeks before each suburb is released.”
The company committed only “to providing the specific RTO numbers for each suburb within the first tranche” of suburbs “on notice” after planned estimates hearings in February next year, meaning that an official list isn’t likely before March, when the trials are meant to end anyway.
NBN Co’s trial of free fibre upgrades will see it select up to 525 premises from a “pool” of 25,000 eligible premises.
The company said that local construction is complete for “around 10,000 premises” so far, and that will rise to “up to 50,000 by program launch in March 2022”.