NBN Co fudges numbers to expand rollout

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NBN Co fudges numbers to expand rollout
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New estates

NBN Co's fibre commitments in new housing estates ("greenfields") are listed by release stage for the land or multi-dwelling unit (MDU) complex.

There were 854 stages listed in the January iteration of the service-ready spreadsheet, of which 24 duly met the service-ready schedule. In the February iteration, there are 869 land release stages across Australia that want NBN fibre.

In other words, 830 land release stages carry over from the January to February spreadsheets.

Unlike brownfields (existing houses), there are no problems working out how NBN Co is tracking towards its service-ready goals for new estates.

Out of the 830 stages, 38.4 percent (n=319) are on schedule and a further 11 percent (n=92) still do not have an assigned service-ready date.

In addition, 28.3 percent (n=235) of stages saw service-ready dates slip into the following month or beyond, 19 percent (n=158) were fast-tracked, and 2.4 percent (n=20) were given an expected service-ready date for the first time.

There is also a very small number of stages that have been given ambiguous new timeframes. For example, East Newman 3A and Newman Light Industrial Area 3 in the mine-rich Pilbara both move from "Q3 13" to "Aug 13". It's hard to know if this is an upward, downward or sideways movement in timeframes. In any event, it applies only to a statistically insignificant sample.

In the slipstream

Unlike brownfields, iTnews' analysis drilled down into lower levels of abstraction of the greenfields data. The results, in part, explain why the amount of slippage in new housing estates affects over one in four stages listed.

iTnews can reveal that of the 235 stages that slipped, 49.8 percent (n=117) are in Queensland.

The other states slipping behind are in Victoria (22.1 percent, n=52), NSW (13.2 percent, n=31) and Western Australia (10.6 percent, n=25).

Looking at the points of interconnect (POIs) that support the slipped stages provides further clues on what may have contributed to the overall number.

In Queensland:

  • 18 delayed stages connect to a POI at Mackay, where most builds have been pushed back to July or sometime in Q3.
  • Townsville had 15 affected stages, though the figure is skewed by many stages from a single large development.
  • The Kallangur and Petrie POI on the Sunshine Coast supports 14 delayed stages. Work is now clustered in March/April and July/August.
  • Bundaberg's POI supports 13 delayed stages, with new service-ready dates fairly evenly spread.
  • Ningi 2 supports nine delayed stages. It appears to be an interim POI, with connections eventually to run to five other permanent POIs. Most fibre rollout work is now pushed back towards July.
  • Rockhampton POI has seven delayed stages due to connect into it.

What appears to tie all these delays together is the aftermath of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald, which flooded large parts of Queensland in late January, flush in the time NBN Co's report was compiled. 

iTnews has asked NBN Co whether floods are to blame for greenfields delays but has received no response.

Floods clearly weren't responsible for all recorded delays. The South Morang POI in Victoria has 13 stages attached to it that were delayed for service-ready declaration, while Western Australia's South Coogee POI has nine affected stages.

Similarly, the flood-affected Rockhampton POI supports the second largest number of fast-tracked stages — 10 in total, equivalent to 429 premises.

Read on for our breakdown of the fixed wireless rollout stats.

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