NBN Co has confirmed a delay of around three months in the construction of Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN). The public-private company, which is overseeing the construction of the fixed line network, has outlined a revision to its previous forecast for the number of homes passed, noting that a number of its contractors had progressed more slowly with work than had been anticipated. Under its revised plans NBN Co has said it now expects to the fibre infrastructure to pass between 190,000 and 220,000 premises by the end of June 2013. Previously the company had said it would pass 341,000 premises by that date, but has now said that this target will be achieved by end-September 2013.
Commenting on the development, NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley noted: ‘We are accountable for the delay and are disappointed it has occurred … In the case of the volume fibre rollout, NBN Co’s public projections have been underpinned by commitments from our four construction contractors that they would meet the 30 June 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. This lack of mobilisation, combined with some of our contractors recently lowering their forecasts, has led us to make the judgment call to re-forecast our end-of-year projections.’
Among the actions that the company has said it is taking is the decision to take over direct management of the NBN rollout in the Northern Territory (NT) with a view to allowing partner Syntheo to focus on deployment in Western and Southern Australia. As previously reported by CommsUpdate earlier this week, NBN Co announced it had taken over construction in the NT after Syntheo had failed to meet its rollout targets. Further, NBN Co has also said that its fibre construction contractors will increase their investment in equipment and manpower as well as technology to accelerate on-the-ground design and planning.
Despite the delays Mr Quigley has been keen to stress that the longer-term timeframe for the NBN project remain unaffected. ‘I should be clear, this short-term issue will not affect the long-term delivery of the NBN or the overall cost of the project. NBN Co remains on track to deliver fast, affordable and reliable broadband to every Australian by 2021 as set out in our Corporate Plan.’