NBN Co denies existence of Melton pilot

In a surprising first, NBN Co has publicly disputed an article by an Australian publication about its project. Unlike previous scenario where similarly incorrect information was simply acknowledged internally but no public response was made, the company released an “article” early this morning disagreeing with the contents of the article.

The article was originally run by Fairfax publications written by David Braue, an evident supporter for the former Government’s Fibre to the Premises model of the National Broadband Network. It claimed that a pilot study conducted by the company showed that cost savings suggested and being implemented by the previous management have shown significant cost savings in the rollout of Fibre to the Premises. The article claimed that only 104 days were required from build commencement to ready for service compared to the average of 344 days in other areas.

I’m unable to find an instant in Melton where build was reduced to only 104 days, nor the 344 day average. However, the only FSAM that is completely built in Melton is 3MLT-10 which took 5 months to complete. When we compare this with all the other FSAMs that are being built around Melton (3MLT), you can see that this is much quicker than any of the other FSAMs. We’re talking of a 3MLT-10 taking a mere 16% of the projected build time for its neighbour 3MLT-07 – that’s a pretty whopping improvement.

3MLT-10 build time
(5 months)

Strategic Review build time
(7.1 months)

Average as compared to in the Fairfax article
(~12 months)

Current expected RFS for 3MLT-08 (link)
(21 months)

Current expected RFS for 3MLT-09 (link)
(23 months)

Current expected RFS for 3MLT-07 (link)
(26 months)

Current expected RFS for 3MLT-06 (link)
(30 months)

I’m sure NBN Co is more than capable of defending itself as it has in this case. But clearly, there is more to this story than a pilot that “didn’t exist”. The company has clearly rebutted the factor of cost of rollout in its response, but not the build time. Given that the Cost-Benefit analysis relies so heavily on FTTP not being able to be rolled out fast enough, the factor of speed of rollout is crucial in this discussion. No doubt, the FTTN (in the MTM) will be faster. Sticking up a node is much quicker than pulling fibre up every house. But it’s about weighing the benefits of a network that won’t need to be upgraded in the foreseeable future.

Based on all the public information that’s available, we can see that build times quoted in the article are incorrect. But, there is a clear improvement in build times for this new FSAM regardless… and I’m sure there is more to the story of Melton that “it didn’t happen”.

Update: so it appears that Multi-Dwelling Units (MDUs) is what's causing the delays at the other FSAMs. In conclusion, in order to service around an additional 400 MDU premises, an extra 20 months of build time is required. That's… 20 premises a month. Seriously?

FSAM Approx premises total Approx MDU count
3MLT-02 2131 232
3MLT-07 2466 629
3MLT-08 2598 578
3MLT-09 2181 412
3MLT-10 2491 108

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