NBN Co will foot the bill to upgrade in-home wiring at up to 750,000 premises in the fibre-to-the-node footprint under a plan floated by the federal opposition today.
The major upgrade project is the centrepiece of Labor’s plan to reinvigorate the troubled NBN for both households and businesses across Australia.
Shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland told the CommsDay Summit in Sydney that it currently costs $150 to have in-home wiring problems "rectified under a standard installation".
"Under Labor there will be no cost if a fibre-to-the-node household is identified as being affected by [in-home wiring issues]," Rowland said.
NBN Co would need an increase in peak funding of up to $125 million to pay for the upgrades, though the amount could be less depending on the quantum of homes affected.
"The allocated funding assumes that up to one in five FTTN premises could be experiencing performance limitations due to this issue, with this estimate based on a combination of ACCC and NBN Co data," Rowland said.
NBN Co has already been trialling ways to find in-home wiring issues that may be one of the reasons that some FTTN customers struggle to achieve minimum speeds.
Rowland said the trials found that "installing a signal splitter in identified households delivered an average speed improvement of 11 megabits per second."
"More importantly, for premises reporting service instability and unreliability issues, the trial found that 70 percent became stable after the work was completed," she noted.
NBN Co recently revealed that 183,000 FTTN users don't see the minimum 25Mbps peak speeds specified in the NBN statement of expectations.
Rowland said that number could increase to 230,000 "as the rollout nears completion".
The opposition also said today that, should it win next month’s election, it would investigate more fibre upgrade paths for parts of the network.
It said this would “validate costs and assess co-investment mechanisms to responsibly deliver targeted upgrades over the medium term”.
Labor will similarly review the economic basis of the NBN, which it said was “$21.4 billion over budget and four years behind schedule”.
The review will take into account “implications of the multi-technology mix on NBNCo’s long-term cash flow position, capital structure, pricing evolution”, as well as the company’s ability to “co-invest in future infrastructure upgrades under a range of market scenarios”.
“Consumers and taxpayers have every right to be angry with the Liberals for delivering a second-rate network that costs more and does less,” Rowland said.
“Australian households and businesses deserve a National Broadband Network that is affordable, delivers great value for money and is reliable.”
Labor's NBN proposal was timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the NBN project.