NBN fibre rollout delayed by three months: Quigley

Cites some construction contractors progressing slower than expected

NBN Co's Mike Quigley

NBN Co's Mike Quigley

NBN Co has confirmed a delay in the rollout of fibre optic cable by about three months in its June 2013 corporate plan.

Following a board meeting, NBN Co said its original forecast for the rollout of fibre optic of 341,000 premises is now expected to be achieved about three months later.

Between 190,000 and 220,000 premises are now forecast to be passed by fibre by end June, NBN Co CEO, Mike Quigley, said.

The delay was due to some NBN construction contractors progressing slower than expected, he said, adding that it expects to make up the delay and expects the 2021 completion date and overall cost of the NBN to remain unchanged.

“We are accountable for the delay and are disappointed it has occurred. But we have to keep it in perspective.”

NBN plans to take action to help construction contractors to meet their commitments, including assuming direct responsibility for NT fibre roll out, the company said in its statement.

It assured that its technology supply, back-end IT systems and customer processes for the fibre network all on track.

“This is a delay in fibre construction and all the other major elements of the fibre rollout, such as the technology supply, the back-end IT systems and the agreement with our retailers, are still in place. It is a short-term issue and will not affect the long-term delivery of the NBN or the overall cost of the project.

“We will work closely with our suppliers across all parts of our network to build and monitor their progress to ensure each individual element is ready within the required time frame.”

He added that in the case of the volume fibre rollout, NBN Co’s public projections have been underpinned by commitments from four construction contractors that claimed they would meet the June 30 target.

“The problem is we are just not seeing the ramp up of construction workers on the ground that would be needed to deliver these targets,” he said.

The NBN action plan to address the delay includes:

  • Directly managing the NT rollout to ensure the delivery of fast broadband to the NT and to allow contractor Syntheo to focus on WA and SA, a move expected to create up to 200 jobs in the state at the peak of the rollout.
  • NBN Co and its construction partners training and employing additional specialist telecoms workers - “fibre splicers” - to help recover lost time in the rollout of the network.
  • NBN fibre construction contractors to increase their investment in equipment and manpower as well as technology to accelerate on-the-ground design and planning.

Quigley added that the company has more than 40 telephone and Internet service providers selling NBN packages to consumers.

“We are having no problems with the availability of equipment including the manufacture of fibre, and the implementation of the complex IT systems (OSS/BSS) that underpin the running of the network, also continue to be delivered as expected.”

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