NBN Co fudges numbers to expand rollout

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NBN Co fudges numbers to expand rollout
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Brownfields winners and losers

In the meantime, 14 of the 33 cities and towns across Australia to lose premise numbers are substantially worse off.

There appears to be no political pattern in the data, with ALP, Liberals and Greens constituencies all losing previously-promised fibre connections.

FSA Name Premises (January) Premises (February) Difference
 Gulliver  29,400  17,000  - 12,400
 Keysborough  25,600  17,500  - 8100
 Cairns  21,200  14,000  - 7200
 Toowoomba  26,200  20,000  - 6200
Carlton   20,200  14,000  - 6200
 Darwin  19,400  13,400  - 6000
 Ipswich  21,400  15,600  - 5800
 Wollongong  23,900  20,300  - 3600
 Ashmore  25,500  21,900  - 3600
 Riverstone  8700  5300  - 3400
 Rockhampton  14,200  11,700  - 2500
 Armidale  11,400  9600  -1800
 Geraldton  15,300  13,900  -1400
 Mudgee  7300  6200  - 1100

In contrast, of the 37 existing FSAs to receive a top-up in premises numbers, six are substantial.

Ascot in the federal seat of Brisbane (held by the Liberal Party by a slim margin) more than doubled the number of premises it is to receive, going from 8400 in January to 17,200 in February.

Tullamarine and South Morang in Victoria each took in an additional 3100 premises. Both are in ALP-held seats.

Casuarina (NT, Labor-held) was bolstered by an extra 3100 premises, Townsville (QLD, Liberal-held) received 2900 premises, and while the numbers are smaller, Bacchus Marsh (VIC, Labor-held) went from 6400 premises to 7300 premises.

NBN Co didn't just plunder at the FSA level — the altered numbers cascade down the network topology.

One step below the FSA, some builds saw the number of premises per FSAM and the number of FSAMs in the FSA altered. Changes were also made to the number of premises per FDA.

On-time fibre in built-up areas

Construction at NBN Co's 79 FSAs currently consists of 326 phases ("FSAMs") and 1584 FDAs (smaller parcels of build work) as of February 15.

Working out whether NBN Co is on track to declare portions of its brownfields fibre network as being ready for retail service is complicated by a lack of dates and disclosure.

An analysis of the 326 FSAMs provides the best indication of how much movement there is in the expected service-ready dates for built-up areas in line for NBN fibre.

Of the 326 FSAMs, 61 percent (n=198) are on schedule, 19 percent (63) have slipped into the following month or beyond, and 15 percent (48) have been brought forward in the same fashion, say from June to May.

Two-thirds of the 63 slippages are in regions that should have had services coming online between now and July.

The slippages are mostly about a month in length, though the odd one or two — such as "Karloo, Rangeway, Utakarra, Wonthella, Geraldton" in Western Australia — slips from June to November 2013. That FSAM has 2900 premises.

NBN Co does not list every FSAM that will ultimately form part of a single FSA. Thus, one can calculate only whether published phases of work within an FSA are on time, not whether the entire FSA is running to schedule.

There is also a lack of disclosure by NBN Co at the layer of abstraction below the FSAM — the FDA.

The vast majority of FDAs carry an expected service-ready date "to complete in FY13".

Only 2.3 percent of the 1584 FDAs have a specific date for when they are expected to be ready to carry retail internet services.

Construction in all of those FDAs (those with specific dates) slipped their allotted service-ready schedule between January and February.

FDAs ranging in size from 122 to 177 premises in Coffs Harbour, Bacchus Marsh and Aspley were mostly pushed back by a month.

In addition, five FDAs in Armidale lost their schedules entirely, going from being expected to be ready for service in February 2013 to just sometime this year.

If one takes an aggregate view of every piece of brownfields build work with a service-ready date, 58.3 percent (n=201) are on schedule, 27.3 percent (n=94) slipped and about 14 percent (n=48) were fast-tracked.

The only uncertainty is how far these proportions can be extrapolated across the entire brownfields rollout, as they are calculated on 18 percent of the total network portions listed as under construction.

Read on for an in-depth analysis of how and where NBN Co's fibre rollout in new housing estates is slipping.

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