Eager Australians from Cairns to Albany have been hitting their computers and smartphones to find out if they’re among the lucky ones slated to receive NBN services within the next three years â€“ but two out of three are going to be disappointed.
That’s the inevitable conclusion after the government announced its long-awaited three-year rollout plan yesterday barely meeting a self-imposed deadline to deliver the details before the end of March. And if nothing else those details are ambitious: if all goes to plan 3.5 million homes in 1500 different municipalities will be connected to the NBN over the next three years.
That figure represents around one-third of all premises in Australia suggesting that the entire rollout could be complete within ten years if the NBN rollout is able to get and keep adequate momentum.
With just 18200 premises now connected to the NBN and far fewer actually getting internet services over the network that’s a significant goal. Call it 1100 days give or take a few â€“ which means the government will have to connect 31819 homes to the NBN on average every day including weekends.
It’s a massive logistical effort that has every chance of going horribly wrong â€“ but it’s also the government’s most firm commitment to progressing the NBN past its halting early days. And with most of the legal kerfuffle winding down in the wake of the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission’s decision to accept Telstra’s Structural Separation Undertaking (SSU) â€“ NBN Co is now gearing up to put the proverbial pedal to the floor and prove that it will be able to deliver on its ambitious goals.
But with a federal election looming and the disastrous election result in Queensland confirming the country’s swing to the right Opposition communications spokesperson Malcolm Turnbull will be watching closely if his statement after the government announcement is any indication.
â€œJudge Labor’s NBN by results not promisesâ€ was the title of his missive in which he called the government’s announcement a â€œduplicitous and ham-fisted attempt to concealâ€ the fact that the project is running well behind the rollout timeframes it set in its Corporate Plan nearly 18 months ago.
Turnbull also questioned how many services would actually be connected within the government’s timeframe â€“ and whether its suggestion that the 3.5m target includes suburbs where the rollout will have commenced is designed to boost the numbers even in areas where only preliminary work has been done.
Labor can count on Turnbull keeping the pressure on the government in the leadup to next year’s election by which point the government is hoping to have nearly 1 million NBN homes connected and able to take services. Whether or not he can spin any failure to meet that deadline into political advantage will remain to be seen but Turnbull’s analysis is filled with numbers that confirm he will be doing his best.
In the short term however the question on every Australian’s lips is a simple one: â€œWhen can I get it?â€
The answer to that question is relatively easy to come by: NBN Co has set up a Google Maps overlay within its site so you can search for the status of your own suburb â€“ or find out which mate’s house you’ll have to start crashing at when you want to do some serious web surfing.
To check out your area click here or skip straight to maps of a few of the areas to be touched in the latest tranche of NBN announcements (this is not an exhaustive list):