The National Broadband Network still has no update for when households using pay-TV cable will be able to connect to the network.
The National Broadband Network still has no update for when households using pay-TV cable will be able to connect to the network.

Australia’s NBN limbo just got worse

THERE'S still no word on when millions of Australians in inner-city areas will be able to connect to the National Broadband Network in a delay that could cost the project $450 million.

NBN Co today released a half-yearly update for the $49 billion network, revealing the cost of every connection except fibre-to-the-premises increased last year, 6.1 million homes and businesses could now connect to the NBN, and 3.4 million premises were already using it.

But millions of Australians with homes serviced by pay-TV cable remained in the dark about their NBN status as chief executive Bill Morrow said it was "still too early" to say when remedies to fix that part of the network would be complete.

Ede Keegen is disappointed NBN Co has called a an immediate stop on connecting households to the HFC portion of the National Broadband Network, which will affect her home here in Kenmore Hills, Brisbane. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian
Ede Keegen is disappointed NBN Co has called a an immediate stop on connecting households to the HFC portion of the National Broadband Network, which will affect her home here in Kenmore Hills, Brisbane. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian

Delays to HFC connections, announced in November last year, were expected to last six to nine months, and Mr Morrow said the company still did not have a more definite timeline for internet users left in limbo.

"We're now conducting upgrade work to improve the service quality on HFC and it's still too early to be specific on timelines for releasing this footprint but we are progressing quickly," he said.

"I want to reiterate that this was a tough call for us to make but we will not prioritise speed of the build over customer experience."

Remedial work to the NBN's HFC connections, which affected about 2.5 million households and businesses, followed growing complaints about internet dropouts and congestion, particularly during peak times.

Delays to HFC parts of the National Broadband Network are causing cost increases. Picture: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Delays to HFC parts of the National Broadband Network are causing cost increases. Picture: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

The changes hit 1.8 million premises where NBN work had yet to commence, as well as "approximately 700,000 premises" that had to be "rolled back from their ready-to-connect status," according to NBN co chief financial officer Stephen Rue.

NBN Co revealed the extra work had already contributed to a price rise for connecting homes to the NBN using HFC cable, with the average connection cost up $147 to $2403 per home.

Federal Shadow Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland said if spread over the 3.1 million premises due to receive HFC, the higher cost would add $450 million to the NBN's expenses.

Prices for all types of NBN connections, except fibre-to-the-premises, rose during the last six months of the year, however, including fixed wireless and fibre-to-the-node.

Mr Morrow said the price rises had been expected, however, and the project remained on budget and due for completion in 2020.

News Corp Australia

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