NBN Co uses stockpiled HFC NTDs to work down order backlog

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NBN Co uses stockpiled HFC NTDs to work down order backlog

Sales pause officially remains in place.

NBN Co has used some of its stockpile of hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network termination devices to fulfil several thousand orders delayed by a stop-sell it announced last month.

iTnews understands the company used some of its network termination device (NTD) inventory, which was being held for medically vulnerable customers and customers relocating premises, to clear some backlogged orders instead.

The move means that NBN Co now expects the three-month “pause” on fulfilling new HFC orders to impact about 39,000 orders, instead of the 50,000 initially expected.

However, this figure is dependent on NBN Co being able to replenish its supply of devices by late May or early June, as it is targeting to do.

The HFC order pause was put in place because NBN Co’s NTD supplier could not source enough chips to make more of the devices, owing to a global shortage that is impacting multiple industries. 

NBN Co said at the end of last month that it anticipates a delivery of NTD stock at the end of this month, “and then at regular intervals throughout April and thereafter.” 

Its confidence in sourcing supply appears to have enabled it to fulfil some frozen orders much earlier than expected, although this looks to be a one-off.

Before the sales pause came into effect, NBN Co typically fulfilled about 4000 new HFC orders a week. 

Fulfilling 5000 a week during the pause - a time of low stock-on-hand - is understood to not be sustainable, and therefore is unlikely to be repeated.

iTnews understands the majority of the 5000 orders NBN Co fulfilled last week were from the pause backlog, not for medically vulnerable customers or those moving to new premises that were not fitted with an NTD.

The revised numbers of impacted HFC users came as more figures sizing the impact of the pause were published in a regulatory filing by Telstra earlier this week. [pdf]

Telstra said that, in total, the impact of the pause would affect “in the order of a few hundred thousand” premises, which could no longer place an order if they wanted to.

These are premises that are in ready to connect areas - and therefore are subject to disconnection arrangements for their existing services - but that have not yet placed an order.

Telstra also said that “approximately 80,000 premises” would have their existing service disconnection dates delayed under the pause.

This number will ultimately be higher as Telstra’s calculation is accurate to April 9, whereas NBN Co doesn’t believe it will discontinue the pause until late May or early June.

“Revised disconnection arrangements” for premises in that additional six-week period “have not been assessed at this stage,” Telstra said.

The last time NBN Co paused sales on its HFC network - to remediate performance issues - it cost the company hundreds of millions in delayed revenue, and had substantial flow-on impacts to retail service providers as well.

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