NBN Co details next phase of network investment

23 Sep 2020

NBN Co has published its latest corporate plan, in which it has outlined ‘how [it] will provide access to higher wholesale speeds and greater capability on its network to millions of customers living and working across Australia’.

Specifically, NBN Co has revealed plans to allocate AUD3.5 billion (USD2.5 billion) to network investments that it claims will benefits both homes and small businesses across its fibre-to-the-node (FTTN), fibre-to-the-distribution-point (FTTdp) – which it refers to as ‘fibre-to-the-curb’ (‘FTTC’) – and HFC network footprints. According to the company, such investment will mean that by 2023 an estimated 75% of premises in its fixed line footprint will have access to peak wholesale speed tiers of between 500Mbps and almost 1Gbps.

As this investment takes place, NBN Co expects an increasing number of premises will be connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN) by FTTN that require higher speeds to be able to access higher wholesale speed tiers via fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology. NBN Co will reportedly use the existing fibre infrastructure already built into nodes and invest in the continued rollout of fibre deeper into community areas. To that end, customers living in these areas will be able to place an order for a service with a retail service provider (RSP), at which point NBN Co will then complete the build of the fibre lead-in to the premises. Meanwhile, NBN Co has said it will also aim to enable premises connected to the NBN via FTTdp technology to faster speeds through on-demand enablement and deployment of G.fast capability or the provision of fibre lead-ins ‘in certain circumstances’. NBN Co has also pledged to dedicate ‘significant’ investment to benefit customers living in approximately 2.5 million premises in capital cities that are connected to the NBN via HFC technology.

Further to the above, NBN Co will invest AUD1.5 billion to connect more than 300,000 new premises, extend some COVID-19 relief measures into FY 2021, and invest in IT simplification to reduce cost for NBN Co and RSPs, and enhance overall customer experience. According to the operator, it will increase its focus on regional areas through targeted investments in fixed wireless and satellite networks and an expansion of fixed line infrastructure in regional areas.

With regards to the funding for its plans, NBN Co noted that in May this year it previously entered into bilateral agreements with a group of leading Australian and international banks providing revolving credit facilities totalling AUD6.1 billion. The credit facilities each have a five-year term and represent NBN Co’s inaugural long-term borrowing from private debt markets. To bring forward new network investment of AUD4.5 billion and invest in additional programmes valued at AUD1.5 billion, while also refinancing and repaying a AUD19.5 billion Commonwealth Government loan, NBN Co said it expects to raise a total of AUD27.5 billion of private debt by June 2024; this includes the AUD6.1 billion credit facilities already executed.

Australia, NBN Co