NBN Co's take-up by the numbers

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NBN Co's take-up by the numbers
Customers are making NBN connections.

Analysis: If they build it, will we come?

NBN Co is touting take-up rates bordering on 60 percent in some fibre rollout areas, figures the company claims are the envy of the telecoms world.

The company last week released its most detailed dataset yet on take-up rates, choosing 22 completed fibre serving area modules (FSAMs), and showing what percentage of premises in each have taken a retail service. (pdf)

Analysis of the statistics by iTnews shows there's plenty of room to capitalise on proven demand for fast broadband services in these rollout areas in the run up to the federal election on September 14.

The take-up rates surpass anything NBN Co has previously revealed in percentage terms.

NBN Co's last update on take-up rates was less than a fortnight ago, when it announced (pdf) over half of residents in the mainland first-release sites of Kiama and Willunga had taken up a retail service on the network.

Further growth in Kiama and Willunga has them now pushing 60 percent take-up, according to NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley.

"If we add the orders that are in pending which we're about to activate, the take-up rates would be at 60 percent," he told the Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network.

"That is really quite an astonishing take-up rate for a new network."

Quigley is keen to point out that explosive take-up is also occurring in some of the FSAMs that NBN Co is now bringing online.

"The take-up rates for some of those is even faster than Kiama and Willunga," Quigley said.

He said take-up rates at an FSAM in the northern Canberra suburb of Harrison are rising "almost vertically" when plotted graphically.

"If we just include the 'pendings' that we have on order that we've just got activate, we'll be up at a 38 percent take-up rate after three months," Quigley said.

"That really is unprecedented.

"These are the kind of take-up rates that — when we talk to operators around the world — they find a little hard to believe, because they are so high."

It is unclear exactly how far the take-up rates outlined by NBN Co can be extrapolated across the entire rollout so far.

NBN Co previously said its take-up averages 15 percent nationwide, and there's no more recent advance on that figure.

In the following analysis, iTnews examines each rollout area NBN Co identified as a high-performer in terms of take-up, and scopes the potential of each to bolster retail connection numbers prior to the September election in approximately 20 weeks' time.

iTnews has confirmed with an NBN Co spokesperson that all FSAMs in NBN Co's graph are complete (no construction work remains).

Tasmanian trial sites

The first three towns to connect to the NBN — Midway Point, Scottsdale and Smithton — boast take-up rates spanning 15.7 percent to 33.5 percent, but they've also been available for retail services the longest (about 146 weeks).

After a vast period of slow or negligible growth, NBN adoption in all three sites have been on the increase over the past half-year.

"They've started to take a kick up again," Quigley confirmed to the parliamentary committee, but he did not detail why.

One possible explanation is short-term marketing bonuses paid to ISPs for every customer they bring onto the NBN.

Midway Point

NBN Co lists take-up rates for two FSAMs in the 7SOR-codenamed fibre serving area. 

Connections at Midway Point have been available far longer than those at Sorell, though the latter's take-up shows the potential the area has to bolster NBN Co's active connection numbers.

FSAM Code Location Total Premises Take-Up Rate  Retail Connections
7SOR-02 Midway Point  1300  33.5%  436
7SOR-01 Sorell  1300  34.5%  449

Ultimately, however, there are no more FSAMs. NBN Co's latest Ready for Service spreadsheet has two wireless towers in the area to go into service next month, accounting for a combined additional 785 premises.

It's no stretch to consider a percentage of these will have active retail services come election time, but it remains to be seen if wireless will enjoy the same take-up rates as fibre areas.

Scottsdale and Smithton 

NBN Co shows its Scottsdale FSAM (codenamed 7SCL-01) has had a take-up rate of 17.6 percent. This fibre serving area has 1200 premises, which extrapolates as 211 active connections.

Take-up on the Smithton FSAM (7SMO-01) — which covers 1700 premises — is 15.7 percent, meaning the number of active connections is around 267.

As with Midway, there are no more FSAMs planned. 

Mainland first release sites

The high-growth mainland first release sites provide plenty of promise for NBN Co to beef up its active connections, as long as current construction efforts remain on schedule.

Kiama/Minnamurra Downs

The area with the highest take-up rates anywhere in the network has plenty of premises ready to come online in time for the election.

FSAM Code Location Total Premises Take-Up Rate  Retail Connections
2KIA-01 Kiama, Minnamurra Downs  2400  57.7%  1385

A further two FSAMs are listed in the April Ready For Service spreadsheet. The timing of these areas should mean Kiama provides some sort of boost in retail user numbers on the NBN prior to the election.

Both FSAMs are also part of NBN Co's 'early access program', meaning retail services can already be run on the portions where construction is complete. 

FSAM Location Total Premises Ready For Service 
2KIA-02 Jamberoo, Kiama, Bombo  2500  27 July 2013
2KIA-03 Kiama Heights, Kiama  2200  25 June 2013


NBN Co's other star performer, Willunga in South Australia, is also broaching 60 percent take-up rates.

FSAM Code Location Total Premises Take-Up Rate  Retail Connections
5ALD-01 Willunga, South Willunga  1100  56.9%  626

Only one additional FSAM might be completely ready to support retail services by election time.

NBN Co is trying to have the -02 and -03 FSAMs (see table below) included in a second phase of the 'early access program', though the company needs the competition watchdog's go-ahead for this to occur.

If it succeeds, portions of the two could be opened to retail services before the election; if it fails to win over the regulator, only -03 might be ready in time for the election.

FSAM Location Total Premises Ready For Service 
5ALD-02 Aldinga Beach, Port Willunga, Aldinga  2300  November 2013
5ALD-03 Aldinga Beach  2200  September 2013
5ALD-04 Aldinga Beach  1500  February 2014
5ALD-05 Sellicks Beach  1700  4Q 2014


NBN Co is reporting a take-up rate of 39.5 percent in the first FSAM in suburban Townsville.

FSAM Code Location Total Premises Take-Up Rate  Retail Connections
4GUL-01 Mundingburra, Aitkenvale  2800  39.5%  1106

There is also plenty of scope for the active connections number in Townsville to rise pre-election, with a number of new areas on track to be declared ready to support retail services.

The -02, -03 and -04 areas (see table below) are part of the 'early access program', meaning completed portions can be opened to retail services early.

NBN Co is pushing to have the -05 FSAM made part of phase two of the same program, but this won't happen without regulatory approval (and therefore, isn't a given).

FSAM Location Total Premises Ready For Service 
4GUL-02 Gulliver, Mundingburra, Mysterton, Pimlico, Aitkenvale  3000  August 2013
4GUL-03 Mysterton, Pimlico, Currajong  2900  September 2013
4GUL-04 Vincent, Heatley  2400  September 2013
4GUL-05 Cranbrook  2300  August 2013
4GUL-06 Kirwan, Heatley  2400  November 2013
4GUL-07 Kirwan, Thuringowa Central, Cranbrook  2600  2Q 2015


NBN Co provides take-up statistics for five out of six FSAMs in the Armidale area, though some are in an aggregated format and it is unclear what their individual take-up rates are.

FSAM Code Location Total Premises Take-Up Rate  Retail Connections
2ARM-01, 02,03 Armidale 2300, 2000, 500  28.2%  1354
2ARM-04 Armidale  2500  27.4%  685
2ARM-05 Armidale  2700  12.4%  335

Only sections of one FSAM — 2ARM-06 — remain outstanding for construction. The sections, amounting to ten fibre distribution areas (FDAs) of 183 premises, are due to come online sometime between April and June.

The whole FSAM is to be declared Ready For Service by June 29, though this is a formality more than anything as it is part of the 'early access program'.


The last of the five mainland first release sites has the lowest take-up rate of the five, but also shows plenty of promise to have a swathe of new lines ready to support retail services come election time.

FSAM Code Location Total Premises Take-Up Rate  Retail Connections
3BRU-01 Brunswick  2900  26.6%  771

There are seven more Brunswick FSAMs included in the latest Ready For Service plan, and four are due to be completely ready for retail internet services by September.

NBN Co is hoping that -03, -04, -05 and -06 will be approved for phase two of its 'early acess program', making retail connections possible in a shorter time frame.

FSAM Location Total Premises Ready For Service 
3BRU-02 Parkville, Brunswick  2500  6 July 2013
3BRU-03 East Brunswick, Brunswick  2600  15 June 2013
3BRU-04 Brunswick East  2700  August 2013
3BRU-05 Princes Hill, Carlton North  2700  August 2013
3BRU-06 Parkville, Brunswick West  2000  October 2013
3BRU-07 Brunswick West  2200  February 2014
3BRU-07 Brunswick  2300  February 2014

Continue to page two for iTnews' analysis of take-up among the 'new breed' of fibre area.

The new breed

South Morang

Melbourne's South Morang is one of 19 mainland second-release sites announced back in 2010.

NBN Co includes two FSAMs here in its take-up statistics, one of which displays the second steepest take-up rate for any of the rollout regions on the graph.

Take-up in 3SMR-03 is already far higher than anything in Brunswick, Armidale or the Tasmanian trial sites, and this has been achieved in far less time.

FSAM Code Location Total Premises Take-Up Rate  Retail Connections
3SMR-03 South Morang  2300  35.7%  821
3SMR-02 South Morang  2600  8.3%  216

NBN Co will undoubtedly be hoping to replicate the take-up rates in other parts of the South Morang build.

Three more FSAMs are expected to be declared fully Ready For Service before the election. NBN Co is angling to have four of the remaining five approved for 'early access' by retail service providers.

FSAM Location Total Premises Ready For Service 
3SMR-01 Mill Park  2700  4 May 2013
3SMR-04 Mill Park  2000  4 May 2013
3SMR-05 Bundoora  2200  20 July 2013
3SMR-06 Mill Park  2600  December 2013
3SMR-07 Mill Park  3400  February 2014

Kingston Beach

Tasmania's Kingston Beach is in stage two of Tasmania's NBN rollout. It has one FSAM boasting a meteoric 37.4 percent take-up inside the first 41 weeks of service availability — the highest take-up of the newer FSAMs.

FSAM Code Location Total Premises Take-Up Rate  Retail Connections
7KIN-01 Kingston Beach  1000  37.4%  374

Another two FSAMs in the area could be completely Ready For Service come election-time; three, if NBN Co gets its way with a second phase of the 'early release program'.

NBN Co hopes to open portions of -02, -03 and -04 to retail services sooner than the Ready For Service date for the entire FSAM respectively, but it is up to the ACCC to agree to the proposal.

FSAM Location Total Premises Ready For Service 
7KIN-02 Blackmans Bay  2300  September 2013
7KIN-03 Kingston, Blackmans Bay  2500  1 June 2013
7KIN-04 Kingston, Huntingfield  2400  November 2013
7KIN-05 Kingston, Bonnet Hills  600  December 2013


Parts of Canberra's north have been waiting a long time for fast broadband.

The suburb of Gungahlin, in particular, was the subject of a long-running grassroots campaign before it was selected as a second-release NBN site.

It's not particularly surprising, then, that NBN Co is reporting good early take-up in the parts where fibre has been laid.

FSAM Code Location Total Premises Take-Up Rate  Retail Connections
9CRC-06 Harrison 1600  15.9%  254
9CRC-03 Gungahlin  2500  13.9%  348

Two more FSAMs are currently listed in the Ready For Service plans for the area. Both are due to be ready to carry retail internet services shortly, although NBN Co still wants -04 to be included in the second phase of the 'early release program'.

FSAM Location Total Premises Ready For Service 
9CRC-02 Ngunnawal  2900  31 May 2013
9CRC-04 Palmerston  2500  1 June 2013

Coffs Harbour

Another of the mainland second-release sites, Coffs Harbour displays a more modest take-up rate compared to some of the other second-release sites, but promises to have plenty more connections ready to carry retail services in the lead-up to the election.

FSAM Code Location Total Premises Take-Up Rate  Retail Connections
2CFS-01 Coffs Harbour  2600  10.3%  268

NBN Co is hoping to add four out of the five FSAMs under construction to the second phase of its 'early release program'. Only 2CFS-07 is excluded from the proposal, which requires regulatory approval.

FSAM Location Total Premises Ready For Service 
2CFS-03 Coffs Harbour  2500

 22 June 2013

2CFS-04 North Boambee Valley, Coffs Harbour  2100  27 July 2013
2CFS-05 Coffs Harbour  2200  29 June 2013
2CFS-06 North Boambee Valley, Coffs Harbour  1500  August 2013
2CFS-07 Sapphire Beach, Korora  2900  November 2013

South Hobart

Part of Tasmania's stage two and three rollouts, South Hobart has a number of FSAMs that are expected to be declared Ready For Service before the election.

Take-up rates are already showing promise, according to NBN Co.

FSAM Code Location Total Premises Take-Up Rate  Retail Connections
7HOB-01 South Hobart  2000  10.5%  210

The company hopes to add -03, -04, -05 and -06 to its 'early access program'. Even if this does not come off, up to four FSAMs are likely to carry retail services come election time.

FSAM Location Total Premises Ready For Service 
7HOB-02 Mill Park  2500

 4 May 2013

7HOB-03 Mill Park  2100  October 2013
7HOB-04 Bundoora  2200  22 June 2013
7HOB-05 Mill Park  1500  13 July 2013
7HOB-06 Mill Park  2900  September 2013
7HOB-07 Mill Park  1500  4Q 2014
7HOB-08 Mill Park  1500  4Q 2014
7HOB-09 Mill Park  1500  June 2013

Other Tasmanian sites

NBN Co lists a string of other mostly second-stage Tasmanian FSAMs that are seeing strong take-up rates.

FSAM Code Location Total Premises Take-Up Rate  Retail Connections
7GEW-01 Georgetown  2300  31.7%  729
7DEL-01 Deloraine  1600  29.6%  474
7TRA-01 Triabunna  500  28.7%  144
7STH-01 Stieglitz, St Helens  2200  17.9%  394

There is a second FSAM in planning for the St Helens rollout, covering Binalong Bay (codenamed 7STH-02). It is sized at 400 premises and due to come online May 18, if not before. (NBN Co wants it part of the second phase of the 'early release program').

Georgetown is expecting a second FSAM (7GEW-02) covering Bell Bay, Low Head and Beechford, though it isn't expected to be ready to carry retail services until April 2014.

Two wireless towers are expected online next month in the Deloraine area. No more development is listed for Triabunna.

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