NBN has responded to recent criticism about the pace of its rollout, with chief executive Bill Morrow saying the halfway mark will be reached this year.
However, he said the remaining journey would face new challenges as the project now moves more into densely populated urban areas.
“As the NBN network rolls out into cities we will be met with new problems to solve,” he said. “We understand there will be some disruption for residents and business owners as the 14,000 people working across NBN and our delivery partners complete the task as soon as possible.”
Up until now, more than 70% of the NBN deployment was performed in rural and regional areas. This year the rollout in metropolitan locations will ramp up, presenting more challenging physical scenarios to access pits and existing infrastructure –- with the NBN warning about disruption to residents from subsequent civil works.
“The intensified deployment will present challenges — but the nbn team, along with our partners and retailers, is focused on a positive experience for customers and end users as we accelerate the build and connection rates to new records,” Morrow said.
The NBN has a goal to reach 5.4 million homes and businesses by June 30 this year, which is just short of 50% coverage, and 9 million by June next year. The organisation has a government deadline of end of 2020 to complete the rollout of 11.9 million premises.
A News Corp column earlier this month criticised the pace of the project, saying the NBN would need to quadruple the rate at which it was deploying the network in order to meet the 2020 cutoff.
The NBN stated in response that the rate of deployment is accelerating as it moves into urban areas, where significantly more premises can be connected per metre of rollout. It cited figures that last month alone 277,000 homes were added to the network.
“Midway through the year, half the NBN network will be completed. This will be a significant turning point as we aim to finish the build by 2020 and become the first fully connected continent in the world,” Morrow said.
The CEO added that any inconvenience from urban construction would be paid back in spades, saying: “The payoff will be worth it, with universal connectivity delivering health, commerce, education and lifestyle benefits to all Australians.”
Here are some of the metropolitan areas where NBN construction will begin or switch on this year.