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Third of NBN connections faulty

About a third of the premises supposedly connected to the #NBN can’t receive service, according to media reports.

A report in the Fairfax press’ Australian Financial Review on Friday 6 June claims that about 118,000 of the homes and businesses which the NBN deems to be “serviceable” can’t in fact get internet access because of “defective connections”.

These are over and above the 98,000 premises classed as “service zero” – largely multi-dwelling units where both legal and cost problems have proven a barrier to connecting the network at all.

It is not entirely clear from the report what proportion of the 118,000 premises at issue are not actually connected to the network as opposed to having a faulty connection. The article cites a number of problems:

  • The presence of “damaged or missing” lead-in conduit
  • “Inferior” connections, reflecting roll-out timetable pressures
  • The high cost of lead-ins, especially in suburban fringe areas where lead-in lengths can be considerable.

None of this will be news to those who have followed the roll-out closely. The scale of the problem, however, is startling.

The CWU has pointed to the high proportion of splicing reworks occurring in some areas as a sign that cost pressures, combined with skill shortages, were creating inefficiencies.

And last year NBN Co itself estimated that the average cost of connection to the premises was some 50% higher than had been formerly allowed for in the company’s Corporate Plan – and, presumably, in contract prices.

NBN Co says it is currently in negotiations with its prime contractors to address such issues through revised contract prices. But unless those funds flow down to those actually doing the work and unless proper training is provided to them the problems will remain.

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