NBN Co has warned that the number of premises without serviceable fixed-line connections will get worse before it gets better, peaking at 400,000 this financial year.
Such premises have recently been rebranded as “not yet ready to connect” on NBN Co’s reports; previously they were known as “service class zero or equivalent” premises.
Such premises are typically in areas that are declared ready for service (RFS), but which need further work before their connection can carry a retail internet service.
iTnews reported in May that the number of such premises has ballooned in recent times, doubling in just under six months.
It hit 268,114 at the end of June this year, and is now at 276,024 - but NBN Co has used its latest corporate plan to warn a further sharp rise is anticipated.
“The difference between ‘ready for service’ and ‘ready to connect’ [premises] was approximately 250,000 at the end of FY17,” the network builder said.
“NBN Co forecasts this will peak at approximately 400,000 by the end of FY18 before substantially reducing to approximately 150,000 in FY19.
“NBN Co forecasts that all premises will be ready to connect in FY20.”
Despite the rise in actual numbers, NBN Co has been at pains to point out that the number is relatively low as a percentage of all connections.
Three years ago, service class zero or equivalent premises represented one-third of the entire rollout.
NBN Co says it has a good reason to leave trickier installs and come back to them at a later date: it is in the midst of its biggest two years of the volume-based rollout, and it is more efficient to continue the rollout at pace rather than getting crews bogged down over connecting up every premise.
However, the company has faced criticism recently over the length of time some premises end up waiting for crews to return. While it can be six months, it can also extend into over a year.