NBN Co: mixed messages everywhere

NBN Co has been sending mixed messages left, right and centre in the past couple of months. Since the new management came in and with new policy directives from a change of Government, the network building company seems to have lost any sense of direction — sending mixed and confusing messages to the Telecommunications sector:

We're prioritising underserved areas first. NOT.

Last week, NBN Co was issued with a new Statement of Expectations by the Shareholder Ministers - the Minister for Communications and the Minister of Finance. The letter clearly states the need to prioritise rollout to poorly served areas identified in the "MyBroadband analysis":

NBN Co will prioritise areas identified as poorly served by the 'Broadband Availability and Quality Report'…

Just today, however, NBN Co issued a new media release which suggests that they will be prioritising the rollout of network (FTTB, presumably) to apartment blocks in three major cities:

A list of initial priority areas will be announced in the coming weeks. It is expected to include Haymarket in Sydney, New Farm and Fortitude Valley in Brisbane and South Melbourne, with NBN services scheduled to be available to these premises in the middle of the year.

So what's the priority, NBN Co? Poorly served areas, or metro areas that are facing cherry picking competition?

We're being more transparent! NOT.

I get a good chuckle every time I hear the new NBN Co management exclaim their new transparent measure. If you call removing half-a-dozen public datasets from your website being more transparent, I'm sorry — I can't find a word other than dumb to describe that.

These datasets aren't useless, they actually tells the public what areas have commenced construction and actual raw data such as premises count:

  • Monthly Ready for Service Plan (RFS Plan)
  • Monthly Point of Interconnect Rollout Plan (POI Plan)
  • Rollout Boundaries
  • Disconnection Commencement Date
  • Proposed Footprint List
  • One Year/Three Year rollout plans

And they continue to publish these to their customers, retail service providers. So despite the push for transparency, as described in the statement of expectations — they continue to remove these files from the eyes of the public (the people who fund the project). Isn't this more mixed messaging?

Under the MTM, 24% will get FTTP. Sorry, 20%. 22%

As the recent kerfuffle with the FTTP percentage rollout under the "new" MTM model ably demonstrates, NBN Co is sending out mixed messages… not only to the public, but to its own customers.

In a recent presentation to their customers (service providers), NBN Co claimed that only 20% will get the Fibre to the Premises rollout… in contrast to the 22% (well, 24% of 94%) listed in the Strategic Review.

NBN Co then subsequently retracted, blaming "administrative errors" for the incorrect information. Ahh, those pesky administrative errors.

I'm sure we'll get more and more mixed messages into the future. Such as the guarantee of speeds that's not really there at all, or perhaps the need for a cost benefit analysis… but not really, because NBN Co really needs to get on with it.

I guess the lesson is this — you can't really trust what they say. Whatever NBN Co says in one occasion can easily change in a subsequent encounter.

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