NBN Co pushes back crucial HFC status update

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NBN Co pushes back crucial HFC status update

As numbers released on HFC recommendations.

NBN Co has delayed a planned update on the state of its HFC network by a few more weeks, denting hopes for the 700,000 users whose connections were pulled back for remediation late last year.

Since its decision in late November to freeze sales and remediate existing connections, NBN Co has promised a major update through its map that was timed “February 2018”.

With month-end fast approaching, users had been in internet forums in greater numbers speculating when the update might come through.

However, NBN Co this morning delayed the update.

"Network upgrades to improve your customer experience will add an average of 6-9 months to your HFC connection," it said in a new message on its maps.

"We are currently finalising our new rollout schedule. New information will be available over the coming weeks."

The update is considered by many to be a key indication of the future role that NBN Co believes HFC can play in its network.

At least publicly, NBN Co has continued to back HFC, saying earlier this month that it was continuing to deploy new HFC assets despite the sales freeze and remediation of existing premises in the build.

However, NBN Co’s maps show some areas oscillating between being designated HFC and FTTC/N, though it has been unclear to date if these are permanent shifts or simply errors in the NBN map function.

Advocacy stalls

It comes as NBN Co revealed that only one in four users of its HFC network had recommended the service to anyone else before the sales freeze and remediation was announced.

The so-called advocacy scores, released ahead of the company’s appearance at senate estimates on Tuesday night, appear to underline the performance issues that led NBN Co to pull back over 700,000 HFC connections for remediation.

However, NBN Co claims that “the complement of these scores do not reflect dissatisfaction, just that those surveyed had not yet recommended the service".

NBN Co defines advocacy scores as “a measure of users who have already recommended the NBN network to family, friends or colleagues".

It released three sets of advocacy scores across 2017 for the HFC network.

By the end of July, it said 39 percent of HFC customers surveyed would recommend others connect to NBN HFC. That figure was stable again three months later.

However, it appears to have dropped significantly after that in the months leading up to the sales freeze and remediation decision in late November.

The company yesterday said the advocacy score for HFC between June 14 2017 and December 9 2017 was 24 percent of surveyed customers.

Given this number represents a half-year - rather than quarterly - period, it is somewhat unclear by how much it fell in the latter months of 2017 in order to hit that score.

Though the company has only released incomplete advocacy data for other access technologies, the HFC score woes come against general backdrop of increasing scores across other parts of the rollout.

For example, where 49 percent of FTTP users said they would recommend it to others at the end of July last year, the number increased to 53 percent at the end of September.

Similarly, NBN Co reported advocacy scores increased among FTTN users, from 45 percent to 53 percent.

NBN Co released a single advocacy score for satellite - 54 percent at the end of July - and for FTTB (40 percent) at the end of September.

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