Fibre rollout may be one-third less than Strategic Review

(analysis) NBN Co may rollout as little as 16% fibre to the premises under new principles released by the company. Their new guidelines reveal that within the fixed-line footprint, only new developments with over 100 premises or areas where fibre rollout are in advanced stages will likely receive Fibre to the Premises (FTTP). Remaining premises will be served by a mix of HFC and Fibre to the Node or Basement in the fixed-line footprint. This is despite the NBN Co Strategic Review initiated by the incoming Coalition government released 11 months ago suggested that at least 24% of premises in Australia will get FTTP.

Calculations conducted using’s extensive statistics reveal that only around 70 Fixed-line Service Areas (comparable to cities, see tables below) around the whole of Australia are “completed” or “in advanced stages” of the rollout (at least 50% of the rollout modules have at least begun build preparation). This accounts for roughly 1 million premises, or 8% at the end of the rollout in 2020. In addition, NBN Co expects another approximately 1 million premises in new developments (known as greenfields areas) with over 100 premises, accounting for a further 8%1. The total of 16% is roughly one third less than the original 24% suggested in the Strategic Review, or approximately 1 million premises around Australia.

The Government’s statement of expectations mandates the company to provide at least 25 mbps download speeds to all Australian premises with at least 90% of premises in the fixed-line footprint able to get 50 mbps or faster download speeds. NBN Co will only consider installing fibre in areas, not individual premises, where NBN Co finds the existing copper infrastructure to be incapable of delivering speeds required by the mandate. NBN Co is also investigating the possibility for installing fibre in limited “high-profit” areas as well as providing an end-user co-funded “fibre on demand” model.

The figure for greenfields fibre rollout may decrease further as the Government considers new rules that encourage property developers to use alternative fibre providers such as Opticomm.

In previous testimony, NBN Co’s CEO Bill Morrow had indicated that the Fibre to the Premises rollout mix may in fact be higher than that modelled in the Strategic Review:

Bill Morrow: In fact, the number that I recall is a bit higher than that in the early stage of the modelling that we are working on right now.

However, it appears that the modelling has reversed in terms of the number of FTTP premises. In less than 11 months, the multi-technology modelling conducted by NBN Co in their strategic review appears to have been proven to be inaccurate.