Construction of the AUD37.4 billion (USD38.8 billion) National Broadband Network (NBN) is some ten weeks behind schedule, The Australian reports, with delays attributed to ambitious rollout targets and a lack of skilled workers. Such a hold-up, it has been said, is likely to prompt NBN Co to issue revised construction targets for the period ending 30 June 2013. As per its original targets, the NBN had been expected to pass a total of 341,000 premises by mid-2013, but by the end of 2012 only 72,400 premises were within the network footprint. As such, it has been claimed that the June 2013 target could be reduced by as much as 140,000 premises.
Commenting on the progress of the NBN rollout, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy was cited as saying: ‘I have sought information from NBN Co to assist in bringing together and overcoming those challenges … But NBN Co has an enormous challenge organising with its contracting partners that ramp-up and we have made it clear that there are challenges in meeting those targets and we are seeking more information.’
Meanwhile, NBN Co has confirmed that it has taken over construction of the NBN in the Northern Territory, after one of its major contractors for the region failed to meet its rollout targets. The Australian reports that Syntheo, a joint venture between Service Stream and Lend Lease, has been stripped of its design and construction responsibilities for building the fibre network in Northern Territory amid continued delays. The development comes just a month after Syntheo was forced to downgrade the number of premises it expected to have passed by June 2013; it had initially forecast that the NBN would pass 300,000 premises passed by mid-2013, but that number was subsequently reduced to 286,000.