by Byron Connolly

NBN now reaching 899,000 premises

May 27, 20153 mins

NBN on Wednesday said 899,000 homes and businesses across Australia can now order national broadband network services and customers are waiting an average of 15 days for a service to be connected.

A year ago, customers were waiting up to one month or more for a connection, NBN Co boss Bill Morrow said during the company’s latest quarterly update.

Almost 389,000 premises had been activated in the nine months to March 31, 2015, a 20 per cent since last December and up from 166,642 at the same time last year, NBN said. Average revenue per user was $40 per month, up from $37 in the corresponding period.

Around 12,300 premises are being made serviceable each week, an increase of 73 per cent on the 12-week rolling average for the comparative period.

Morrow said NBN had made solid operational and financial progress over the period and was on the path to achieving full year targets of around 1 million serviceable premises, 480,000 activations and $150 million in revenue.

NBN recorded an EBITDA loss of $785 million for the nine months to March 31, 2015 compared to $709 million during the same period last year. Revenue was $109 million over the period, compared to $38 million in 2014.

By technology, NBN estimates that fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) will cover around 20 per cent of the nation at completion, Morrow said.

“Progress is being made on the lead-in work with two-thirds of those homes declared ‘ready for service’ now have this work completed ahead of time,” Morrow said.

Fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) – including fibre-to-the-basement (FTTB) – will cover 38 per cent of the country at completion. FTTB covers 1,700 premises in Canberra, Melbourne and Queanbeyan and construction is underway for 13,000 additional premises, Morrow said.

Last year, NBN signed a deal with Telstra to trial fibre-to-the-node design and construction for 200,000 homes in NSW and Queensland.

That work will be completed by the end of June, allowing the company to begin field tests including trial activations with retail service providers, Morrow said.

NBN also commenced a second phase of FTTN work during the quarter, he said. This covered an incremental area with 200,000 premises, doubling the size of the initial FTTN construction program to more than 400,000 premises, he said.

“Physical construction for the first of these new locations should begin by the middle of this year,” he said.

Hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) is expected to cover 34 per cent of the country and is on track for a commercial launch in the first half of calendar 2014, Morrow added.

Meanwhile, satellite technology will service 3 per cent of the premises at completion. The first satellite – dubbed ‘Sky Muster’ – is with a manufacturer in Palo Alto in the United States before being transported to the launch site at French Guiana. It will launch in the first half of calendar 2016.

A second satellite has completed environmental testing and is getting ready to enter the final performance testing phase, Morrow said.

Finally, fixed wireless technology – which will cover 5 per cent of the nation at completion – is available at 2,057 sites acquired for use or ready for service.

Morrow said that one of the key enablers of NBN’s roll out plan is to gain final approval of its revised definitive agreements with Telstra and Optus.

Morrow said he was encouraged by the recent comments by ACCC chairman, Rod Sims that NBN’s agreement with Telstra for use of the copper and cable should clear its final regulatory hurdle in the coming weeks.

“This is great news. It means we can scale up our planning and construction activities for both FTTN and for that portion of HFC,” he said.