NBN Co gets 250 orders in first week of FTTN-P upgrades being offered

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NBN Co gets 250 orders in first week of FTTN-P upgrades being offered

Confirms it will stick to caretaker conventions during election period.

NBN Co said it had received 250 orders that will trigger upgrades from fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) to fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) in the first week of the ‘N2P’ upgrade program being live.

The network operator opened the long-awaited program on March 22 and named an initial set of retail service providers (RSPs) that users could place orders with.

To qualify for a full-fibre connection, users must order a higher-speed plan than they have today of at least 100Mbps, and keep it for at least a year.

Chief customer officer Brad Whitcomb told a budget estimates hearing on Thursday night that the pool of eligible premises so far is 53,000, with a total of 350 orders placed.

Of those orders, 100 came through the company’s business readiness testing (BRT) and now had fibre.

Whitcomb said the remaining 250 orders had been placed “since the commercial launch” of the upgrade program.

“I think next week will be when we start connecting those customers,” he said.

It wasn't clear how many upgrade offers had been extended to the 53,000 eligible premises.

As iTnews has reported, users can either sign up with NBN Co directly to be notified of their eligibility, or wait for outreach from a participating RSP.

The list of participating RSPs has also expanded, with Optus notably joining the program.

Much of the estimates hearing last night was focused on whether NBN Co executives and staff understood caretaker conventions that come into play once a federal election is called.

One of the company’s executives breached the conventions in 2016 by writing and publishing an op-ed in a major newspaper.

Labor senators sought assurances that NBN staff had been trained in the conventions, and that NBN Co - and specifically its upgrade projects - wouldn’t be weaponised by the current government for political gain during an upcoming election campaign.

NBN Co Stephen Rue said the company had started training its staff in September last year and had also set up an internal multi-disciplinary caretaker review group to “manage the company through the caretaker period.”

“This is a board-approved process,” Rue said.

Rue said that the company had timed the start of planned upgrade works from fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC) to FTTP to occur after the election.

He also said he had pulled out of speaking engagements. He added the government had not asked NBN Co to appear alongside ministers for any announcements or community events.

Rue said the company could feasibly announce another 100,000 premises to join the N2P program, but he said the timing of the announcement would depend on the election, so as to avoid breaking the caretaker rules.

Both major political parties have made NBN upgrades an election issue, with Labor offering to take the N2P upgrade program deeper into FTTN communities.

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