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Judge Labor's NBN according to results, not promises



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THE HON. MALCOLM TURNBULL MP FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WENTWORTH SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND BROADBAND

29 March 2012

JUDGE LABOR’S NBN ACCORDING TO RESULTS, NOT PROMISES

For the past five years Labor‟s message on broadband has been „trust us‟. In that time barely 5000 Australian households have actually received better broadband. The National Broadband Network is up to a year behind the targets in its own Corporate Plan published in December 2010.

Today‟s three-year rollout plan announced by NBN Co and the Government is a duplicitous and ham-fisted attempt to conceal that failure.

The rollout „plan‟ does not contain a forecast of how many households and businesses will actually be able to connect to the NBN fibre by 2015. Nor does it contain a forecast of how many households and businesses will actually be connected. Yet these are the only numbers that matter.

Labor's spin is instead intended to make everyone feel a winner: 3.3 million premises will be in areas whee work on the NBN fibre network "is planned to commence" by 2015. 1

What does that mean?

Does it mean that these premises are in a suburb where NBN has actually dug some trenches by 2015? Suburbs where it has painted a few lines on the footpath in one street? Or merely suburbs where NBN Co hopes it might be able paint a few such lines by 2015?

Once again, Labor‟s real message is „trust us‟.

Australians wishing to determine whether or not they should trust this Government on broadband would be well-served by looking at its record and the NBN‟s performance so far. There is no indication more than a fraction of the premises claimed will be connected by 2015:

On 30 June 2011, there were 18,243 premises across Australia where construction

was complete and the premises could connect to the NBN fibre network. 2

On 31 March 2012 there will be 18,900 premises across Australia where

construction will be complete and the premises can be connected to the NBN fibre

network. 3

1 NBN Co (2012) ‘NBN Co Fibre Rollout Plan: Detailed Commence Work Dates from 1 April 2012 to 30 June 2015,’ released 29 March 2012, p.6.

2 NBN Co (2011) ‘2010-11 Annual Report,’ p.12.

Therefore over the past nine months NBN Co‟s fibre rollout has reached 657

additional premises -just over 3 per working day.

To reach the 30 June 2012 rollout targets in its current Corporate Plan, NBN Co needs to pass a further 137,000 premises in the next three months - which is about 2090 per working day. 4

Again, using the NBN Co‟s own figures, on 31 March 2012 there will be 18,900 premises which can actually connect to the NBN fibre, but a further 249,600 premises “where work on the network is expected to commence” by the same date (which appears to mean they are in areas where some work has been done).

If we applied that same passed-to-commence ratio achieved up to now to the 3.3 million homes and businesses where work will be underway June 2015, then only about 250,000 premises would at that time actually be able to connect to the fibre network.

That would compare to a forecast of 4.2 million homes and businesses passed by fibre by June 2015 in the current NBN Co Corporate Plan. 5

In reality NBN Co will presumably do better than that - but by how much? And is achieving a small fraction of your publicly stated performance targets good enough? For this Government, it probably is.

Media Contact Jon Dart 0457 999 879

3 NBN Co (2012) ‘NBN Co Fibre Rollout Plan: Detailed Commence Work Dates from 1 April 2012 to 30 June 2015,’ released 29 March 2012, p.6.

4 NBN Co (2010) ‘NBN Co Corporate Plan 2011-2013,’ p.15. This shows a target of 156,000 for FTTP premises passed in brownfields and ‘greenfields build’ areas (counting 4000 premises in Tasmania which were not included in these headline targets). The plan forecast that FTTP would reach a further 165,000 premises in ‘Build-Operate-Transfer greenfields sites by 30 June 2012. This target was abandoned when the Government changed its NBN policy in greenfields areas.

5 Ibid. p.134.