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1.3M Added To NBN 'By 2016', Despite Delays

By Oonagh Reidy | Monday | 06/05/2013

"We're getting on with the job," says NBN boss, but experts doubt new rollout figures.

The NBN Co. add 1.35 million new premises to the fibre broadband roll out, to be complete by June 2016. 

The updated NBN three-year plan, announced yesterday, adds almost 190 new towns and suburbs in areas covered by the previous rollout plan and some brand new locations in every state.

These include Albion Park, Bankstown and Gunnedah in NSW, Airlie Beach, Sunshine Coast Caloundra in Queensland, and North Melbourne and Glen Iris in Victoria.

For a full list of all areas click here 

4.85 million premises will have fibre broadband services commenced or complete within the three year timetable, if the new figures are met, NBN Co. claims. 

Image credit: The Australian
50,000 Australians are currently using the NBN with construction currently commenced or complete in around 1 million premises. 

This comes after NBN Co earlier this year admitted  that it would not meet its targets of connecting 341,000 premises to fibre by the end of June this year and was forced to push back the roll out timetable, blaming construction contractor delays. 

"We're getting on with the job of rolling out the NBN in every state and territory. Our plan is to deliver better broadband to every Australian over the remaining 8 years of this 10 year build." NBN Co. CEO Mike Quigley said. 

One third of eligible families have purchased an NBN broadband package in areas where the fibre network is live, and are guzzling data like never before, Quigley claims, as he seeks to give the controversial project credibility. 

"One third of people with an NBN fibre connection have subscribed to the fastest speeds available. And households in the NBN fibre footprint are downloading around 50% more data than the average Australian broadband user every month." 

It is clear the NBN is becoming increasingly political ahead of this year's election, with Labor and Liberals fighting over the cost and roll out of the mammoth plan, with Shadow Communication minister Malcolm Turnbull and Stephen Conroy having regular wars of words of the $37.4bn project. 

At an event in Blacktown, NSW, to mark the connection of the first area of Sydney to the NBN yesterday, Minister for Broadband Stephen Conroy warned of a "digital divide" if the Opposition's alternative NBN  fibre-to-node plan was put into practice. 

"Your kids will be sitting there, and unless you can fork out up to $5000, your kids will not get access to the sort of learning we have seen today, and the sort of learning that is to come in the future," Senator Conroy said.

"The only risk to Labor's NBN is Tony Abbott. Under Tony Abbott, households across the country will have their planned connection cancelled and be forced to pay up to $5,000 or be left disconnected from Labor's NBN."

One expert told AFR the NBN Co. are "putting out essentially meaningless figures to give the project political cover".

However, NBN Co. boss also insists the price of NBN packages are competitive, and released additional figures to prove his point. 

Nearly half of NBN users polled said household internet costs were roughly the same since switching to the NBN, NBN Co. claimed in a statement. 14% were paying less by using an internet phone service instead of a separate land line.

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