5 million premises connected to NBN

250,000 added every month in 2017

Five million homes and businesses are now able to order a National Broadband Network service, NBN announced this morning.

On average, 250,000 premises have been added to the network every month this year, NBN said.

In total, NBN is aiming to hook up 8 million premises by 2020, with the new milestone meaning the network wholesaler is over 60 per cent of the way there.

The company said that the ramping up of its deployment of hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) and fibre to the node (FTTN) was driving an increased rollout pace. Half of all premises able to connect to the network are served by HFC or FTTN, NBN said.

The number of active services on the network was less than half the total ready for service — around 2.2 million. However, NBN said that around 130,000 end users were signing up every month.

Earlier this month NBN said that half a million premises in its fixed wireless footprint were now ready for service.

"We are building the NBN network and activating end users faster than we have ever done before and are currently making over 60,000 premises serviceable each week,” NBN chief network engineering officer Peter Ryan said in a statement released by the company.

“We have the flexibility and the right technologies in place to design and build the network at the speed and scale needed to reach our end goal by 2020.”

The most recent financial figures from the company show that fibre to the premises (FTTP) — the technology originally slated to be used for all of the network’s fixed-line footprint until the Coalition’s victory in the 2013 election — has still been providing the lion’s share of NBN’s income.

Read more: Flash back and forward

However while FTTP has been part of the network from the beginning of the rollout, FTTN only launched in September 2015 and HFC in in June 2016.

NBN’s Q3 results — for the three months to 31 March — revealed that there were just over 63,000 active HFC services and more than 676,000 FTTN services. There were more than 1,031,000 active FTTP services on the network.

Both HFC and FTTN have been sources of controversy for the company. FTTN relies on copper connections from a node to an end user’s household or business. The maximum potential performance falls short of that offered by FTTP and can depend on the length of the copper loop connecting premises to the node.

NBN last year significantly revised down the premises it plans to connect via HFC. Instead the company abandoned plans to use Optus’ aging HFC infrastructure and instead is rolling out more fibre to the curb (FTTC) connections.

FTTC still relies on the use of copper phonelines to connect households; however, the length is far shorter than with FTTN (the copper terminates in a telecom pit on the street outside a residence).

In addition to the potential speed benefits compared to FTTN, NBN has talked up its cheaper installation costs compared to FTTP (because there is no need to replace copper lead-ins to a building). NBN CEO Bill Morrow has indicated that additional premises are likely to get FTTC, with the company “making some announcements soon” about the technology.

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