It's fair to say the NBN has faced more than a few hurdles over the last few years. With shifts in technology direction, changes in board and leadership roles and political "assistance" it's little wonder the ambitious engineering project has been dogged by controversy. But the company says they are on target for a 2020 completion of its franken-network.
Building the network and having everyone connected to it are two different things. As of the most current rollout progress report, just over 7.4 million premises are ready for connection with about 3 million of those properties choosing to not connect yet.
A survey has found more than one in three Australians have no plans to switch to the NBN or don’t actually know what it is, apparently unaware that once the new network arrives their existing telephone and internet connections will be switched off.
And with the HFC network coming online as remediation works are completed, the rollout will reach the final target of about 11.6 million premises by June 2020. NBNCo's goal is to have 8 million homes and business connected by the end of the rollout in 2020. By that time, revenue is expected to reach $3.3 billion per year. And, as legacy networks are turned off, people will eventually be compelled to connect to the NBN.
Of course, the promise of a 100Mbps network, which is what we were initially promised, has been replaced by a 25Mbps promise with 50Mbps available to 90% of the fixed-line network. According to the most recent NBNCo corporate plan [PDF link], the number of customers on peak wholesale speed plans of 50Mbps downloads or higher has increased from 16% in June 2017 to almost 45%. Of course, the ability of the network to exceed those levels and move towards gigabit speeds given the NBN's dependence on copper and HFC remains a concern.
NBNCo is saying FTTP (1Gbps/400Mbps) and FTTC/HFC (100/40Mbps) could deliver speeds of up to 10Gbps. So, it's possible critics of the decision to abandon a nationwide FTTP program may need to rethink their views on performance. But with the FTTC and HFC networks potentially needing more maintenance to reach those performance levels, the question is whether cutting costs now will lead to higher costs in future as the network needs to be upgraded.
We thought we were going to enjoy 100Mbps of speedy internet access. Then the politicians got involved and we ended up with something of a dog's breakfast - or dog's vomit according to some. So, what are the connectivity options that the NBN will deliver and how do they differ? Let's take a look.
There's no reason to doubt NBNCo's expectation of the rollout schedule and their expectation of the performance levels the network can deliver in future. But whether the network it delivers will serve us for decades or just years remains to be seen.