NBN Co reveals uneven spread of 50Mbps-capable premises

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NBN Co reveals uneven spread of 50Mbps-capable premises

Majority of states and territories to fall short of mandate.

NBN Co has revealed that five out of Australia’s eight states and territories are expected to fall short of the promise to have 90 percent of fixed line premises capable of at least 50Mbps peak speeds.

In what is likely to be a contentious admission, NBN Co said it would meet what is effectively the stretch goal of the government’s revised 2016 statement of expectations [pdf] “at a national level”.

However, the distribution of 50Mbps-plus capable premises by state and territory will be uneven.

NSW, Victoria and the Northern Territory are anticipated to be the only states and territories that are expected to have over 90 percent of fixed line premises capable of at least 50Mbps peak speeds by the time the network is built and the co-existence period - where some NBN services are speed-limited to avoid impacting ADSL services - ends.

Combined, they will help NBN Co to hit the national goal and overcome other shortfalls at the state and territory level.

It’s important to note that the government’s statement of expectations did not specifically promise an even distribution of 50Mbps-capable premises across all states and territories.

“The government expects the network will provide peak wholesale download data rates (and
proportionate upload rates) of at least 25 megabits per second to all premises, and at least 50
megabits per second to 90 percent of fixed line premises as soon as possible,” the key passage states.

However, given NBN Co’s attempts over the past year-and-a-half to re-baseline network usage to favour 50Mbps-plus tiers, there have been lingering questions over just how much of the network is actually capable of supporting these higher-end services.

The release of a state and territory breakdown of numbers shows that the benefits of higher speed services will be unevenly distributed.

NBN Co suggested that the numbers could improve in future if portions of the end-to-end connection that are beyond the company’s direct remit were also improved.

The network builder has targeted in-home wiring in recent times as an inhibitor of peak speed performance.

“The actual experience of customers using the network can be impacted by other factors such as their in-home set-up and equipment,” NBN Co said.

“Remediation of these degradations would further improve service performance and therefore the results shown.”

It’s somewhat difficult to put actual numbers to the percentages released by NBN Co as the company has not provided a breakdown of total premises in the rollout by state and territory for some time.

The corporate plan shows how the rollout is progressing by state and territory, but only in percentage terms and without actuals.

NBN Co’s weekly statistics release does break down ready for service (RFS) premises by state and territory; with 9.85 million out of an expected total footprint of 11.2 premises now RFS, this can be used to provide a rough indication.

For example, in the ACT, where the number of 50Mbps-plus capable fixed line services is expected to be 84 percent - rather than 90 percent - of the total footprint, this means at least 11,000 fewer premises are capable than otherwise might have been expected if the statement of expectations goal was to be met by all states and territories.

Western Australia is looking at 85 percent of fixed line premises being 50Mbps-plus capable; on current figures, that’s around 49,500 fewer capable premises than the 90 percent goal.

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