Whether or not NBN Co is hitting its targets is highly politicised issue right now, especially with the election upcoming. Reports say that NBN Co is shuffling its figures around to meet targets, but that's an accusation that NBN Co refutes.
Image: NBN Co
ITNews reported yesterday on the apparently fudged figures, noting that (according to its research) NBN Co has delayed fibre connections to some 69,500 premises within a month in order to commence construction in a greater overall number of cities, primarily in Queensland.
Speaking to The Australian NBN Co states that it's a matter of a constantly shifting schedule. NBN Co's Peter Ferris is quoted as stating that
"Dates for (passing premises) move backwards and forwards in this report depending on real construction progress, which can be affected by availability of connecting infrastructure, severe weather events such as floods or bushfires, or the readiness of underground conduits."
It gets more complicated after that, as ITNews has published a lengthy response to its original article sent to them by NBN Co. NBN Co isn't happy about the original story, but ITNews' position is that it's a matter of semantics; NBN Co's numbers have shifted around and it's not shocking that NBN Co isn't happy with the use of terms like "fudging" given the delicate political nature of the NBN process.
So is NBN Co fudging around figures or not? There's an obvious political angle to all this, and The Australian quotes Malcolm Turnbull's response to it, but it appears to me to be more a question of reassignment than actual obfuscation, given that the original report used publicly available figures. It's not that NBN Co shouldn't be subject to scrutiny. Indeed, given the costs of the project, scrutiny is important. Still, if you wanted to hide something, wouldn't you actually try to hide it? NBN Co fudges numbers to expand rollout and NBN Co responds to fibre delays analysis and Construction schedule changes 'haven't affected rollout' [ITNews and The Australian]