It's not clear for many of us when (if ever) the National Broadband Network (NBN) will ever arrive. But for people who can already connect to the high-speed fibre network, which providers are they actually choosing?
Picture: NBN Co
The NBN, we'll remind you, works on a wholesale model. NBN Co builds the network and then sells access to telecommunications companies, who then sell plans to customers. Those plans can range from super-basic to including bundled calls, mobile phone services and other extras, and vary widely in price.
I started reflecting on who was signing up customers the fastest after TPG put out its annual results today. Amongst the figures was one that stuck out: TPG says it is signing up between 500 and 600 customers a week to its NBN plan (which includes unlimited calls to Australian numbers), which it finally introduced in April this year. TPG is also pursuing plans to build its own fibre-to-the-basement connections in some unit blocks, but it's clearly doing quite well from sites that already have NBN connections.
But just how well? Not every company discloses the number of sign-ups, but we can make some deductions from those that do.
Firstly, iiNet says that its number of NBN customers increased by 20,000 in its most recent financial year. That gives it a weekly signup rate of 384 — lower than TPG in that period. iiNet has had its NBN plans on offer for longer than TPG, which might impact its signup rate. It also has a healthy base of satellite NBN customers, though it stopped signing up new customers
Neither Telstra or Optus appears to break out NBN signups in their annual reports. Both companies are keen to sell bundles of service that include mobile and entertainment as well as connectivity, so that's not altogether surprising. Telstra also makes a healthy sum via its deal to sell its copper network to NBN Co (and renegotiating that deal is one of the major hold-ups in planning for the next version of the NBN).
NBN Co itself in its annual report said that 140,000 new customers had signed up over the most recent financial year. That gives an average of 2692 sign-ups in a week. Subtract the TPG and iiNet numbers and you have 1708 customers going elsewhere.
If both Optus and Telstra are signing up customers at a similar rate to TPG, then that doesn't leave a lot for every other provider to fight over. The lesson? Even in the NBN world, big players would appear to take most of the customers.
Note: Post updated for iiNet figures — I'd initially counted both NBN and other fibre connections together.