NBN has today announced that 10 million premises around Australia are now able to connect to the network.
This follows a record breaking performance in 2018-19 – with an additional 2.9 million premises added. In fact, more premises were added in this one year than in the first seven years and three months of the NBN’s operations.
There are now more than 5.6 million premises connected to the NBN around Australia.
It is a remarkable turnaround from the mess we inherited six years ago, when our Liberal National Government came to power – and the NBN was in terrible trouble. Labor had spent over $6 billion – but there were barely 50,000 premises connected to the network.
Today, we are closing in on completing the rollout. When we reach that point next year, the fixed line footprint will cover more than 10 million homes – and 90 per cent of those homes will be able to receive 50 Mbps.
NBN is now earning over $2 billion a year in revenue, with that number increasing strongly each quarter.
And the average customer on the network is downloading over 240 Gigabytes of data a month.
Labor made lots of mistakes on the NBN. When we came to government in 2013, it was too late to fix all of them – but there were plenty we could and did fix.
We moved away from Labor’s theological insistence on fibre to the premises everywhere. Instead, this is now one of several technologies NBN uses – along with fibre to the node, fibre to the basement, fibre to the curb and an upgraded HFC (hybrid fibre coax) network.
The result has been a much quicker rollout; saving $30 billion in cost; and in turn keeping the monthly price Australians pay for their broadband service lower.
Outside the fixed line footprint, Labor underestimated demand for the fixed wireless service. To fix that, we have committed an additional 1000 towers and upgraded bandwidth to the towers.
Of course there are still things to work on. While 91 per cent of customers are satisfied with their connection installation experience, that leaves too many who are not.
But it is worth reflecting what has now been achieved.
In regional Australia, satellite and fixed wireless services now deliver speeds of up to 25 Mbps. Take up has been strong – and Australians outside the cities no longer face the structural disadvantage in broadband pricing and availability they once did.
In the fixed line areas, we will soon have near ubiquitous availability of 50 Mbps broadband – on pricing plans which allow unlimited amounts of data to be consumed every month.
Today Australians take it for granted that you can stream high quality video to your internet connected TV – without for a moment having to worry about how much data you are using. The NBN makes this possible – with premises across the country able to get a 25 Mbps service, and 64 per cent of NBN subscribers on plans of 50 Mbps or higher.
It’s a big change from just a few years ago – when most people got their broadband on ADSL, with an average speed of 8 Mbps.
Services like Netflix, Stan and YouTube, along with the on demand video platforms of our free to air television broadcasters, give Australians enormous choice – at modest cost – and the bandwidth NBN provides is an important part of this.
It would be very unfair if some people could benefit from this – and others could not.
A key aim of the NBN has been equity – making given speeds as widely available as possible.
That’s very different to many other countries – where a fortunate minority may get high speeds (often at high prices) but many get much poorer speeds.
Of course the same broadband infrastructure which delivers entertainment can also deliver content and videoconferencing in education, health and many other activities.
And while the NBN serves a residential home at one address, next door it may serve a small business. An architect or graphic designer or IT consultant or animator can use this high speed broadband connection to serve customers across the country and across the world.
For 10 years we’ve heard a lot about the NBN – but over much of that time it was a largely theoretical discussion for many Australians. Today it is very widely available.
Already the NBN is changing the way we are living – with the huge rise in video, increasingly delivered over internet connected big screen TVs, one powerful consequence.
Over coming years will see the share of households using the NBN continue to rise; we will see the monthly data usage by household keep rising; and we will see new and clever ways that our near ubiquitous broadband coverage is used for economic and social benefit.
It’s been a long, hard road - but thanks to our Liberal National Government’s focus on delivery, the completion of the NBN rollout is within sight.