NBN Co slashes June target again, adds three-month delay

The downgrade has been attributed to construction partners not mobilising workers on the ground at a fast enough rate to meet forecasts

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and Mike Quigley (Image courtesy of NBN Co)

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and Mike Quigley (Image courtesy of NBN Co)

NBN Co has further slashed its June target for premises passed from 286,000 to as few as 190,000.

NBN Co had forecast that 341,000 premises would be passed by June this year. This target was downgraded by NBN CEO MIke Quigley in February to 286,000 which Quigley said was due to construction delays from Syntheo.

The company has now forecast 190,000-220,000 premises will be passed by June, comprising 155,000-175,000 brownfield premises and around 35,000-45,000 greenfield premises.

The downgrade means NBN Co is now running three months behind schedule, based on how much of the network has already been built, the amount of duct in the ground and how much fibre has been hauled.

Quigley said the downgrade was due to construction partners not mobilising workers on the ground at a fast enough rate to meet their forecasts.

He said NBN Co became aware of the problem over the past couple of months and saw evidence that the number of ducts and cables being put in the ground was not enough for the NBN wholesaler to reach its June target.

Quigley downplayed suggestions the delay was due to labour shortages and said there were enough workers in the country to build the NBN.

To try to recover from the delay, NBN Co will train and employ 80 extra fibre splicers and construction partners will increase investment in their equipment and manpower.

“When I’m talking about additional splicers, this is something we’re seeing as a bottleneck, potentially, to recover the delay and so we’ve agreed we’re taking on more people … and in fact we’re using some internal people as a short-term kind of tiger team to do splicing which we will drop into particular areas if that becomes a bottleneck,” Quigley said.

NBN Co has also taken over the contract from Syntheo in the Northern Territory. Syntheo was to be responsible for passing 48,620 premises by June.

Quigley said he would not classify the new arrangement as a breach of Syntheo’s agreement with NBN Co and said NBN Co was not in discussion with any of its other partners for work to be handed back over to it.

He said the NBN rollout was not going “too badly” considering the size of the project.

“Having said that, we are absolutely accountable and frustrated and disappointed that delays have taken place and we’re going to recover it, but in the overall grand decade-long massive infrastructure project, it is a delay but it’s going to be recovered,” he said.

“I want to be very clear that NBN Co is taking accountability and as the CEO I am committed to recovering [from] the delay.”

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