NBN says 80% of leftover 109,000 premises could connect in 2020

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The company responsible for rolling out the National Broadband Network across Australia has said it has 109,000 premises leftover following the company hitting the fiscal year 2020 build target that it set.

NBN previously said it would have 100,000 premises left unconnected at the end of its build phase due to needing “bespoke” connections that require a complex installation, are located within culturally significant areas, or are heritage sites.

On Monday, the company said it expects 80% of the leftover premises to be ready to connect this calendar year. Of that 80%, 67,000 are complex builds, and 25,000 are from new developments. NBN also said it would shift 17,000 premises from fixed wireless to fibre to the curb technology.

In its latest set of weekly statistics due June 25 [PDF], NBN said it had just shy of 38,000 premises labelled as not ready to connect in areas declared ready for service. Overall, NBN has almost 11.65 million premises ready to connect, and is serving 7.25 million premises.

“We are very proud of our achievements, particularly over the last six months in a year that no-one could have predicted. We have completed some our most complex builds and overcome the myriad challenges imposed by the COVID pandemic and the catastrophic bushfires that affected so much of New South Wales, ACT, Victoria and South Australia to keep Australia connected to high-speed, secure and reliable broadband,” NBN CEO Stephen Rue said.

“We have exceeded our targets for the build and, more importantly, the network has performed extremely well, exceeding many people’s expectations.”

At the end of June, deputy secretary of communications at the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications Richard Windeyer said the experience during the coronavirus pandemic has shown Australian broadband can handle working from home.

“The networks in Australia are capable of coping with a very significant increase in overall capacity and in the type of, and shape of, use of the network. And therefore, it has demonstrated that remote work is a possibility,” Windeyer said.

“Now, I think how that plays out across the Australian economy … depends on factors that are unrelated to telecommunications … our view would be we’ve seen, and quite pleased to see, that the networks are capable of supporting people choosing to work remotely, and as COVID has shown, in significant numbers.”

Windeyer said the question waiting to be answered is how many of the habits developed in the past few months would endure.

“There’s no reason to believe that people will go back, will necessarily stop taking telehealth consultations and … there will be an increase in people’s ability to, and interest in being able to, work remotely.”

Last week, due to the introduction of the Statutory Infrastructure Provider regime, NBN is now obligated to offer Australians a broadband connection that provides minimum speeds of 25/5Mbps.

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