Households slow on NBN uptake as halfway mark nears
AUSTRALIA'S National Broadband Network neared its halfway mark today, revealing more than five million homes and businesses were now ready to connect to the multibillion-dollar project.
But fewer than half those households and firms were actually using NBN services, figures showed, and critics warned parts of the network would have to be rebuilt in as little as five years to keep up with Australia's need for increasing download speeds.
More than 5.03 million of 11.9 million Australian premises were now hooked up to the network and ready for service, NBN Co revealed, up from 3.8 million at the start of the year.
NBN Co chief network engineering officer Peter Ryan credited the company's use of copper and pay-TV cable connections with speeding up the rollout, and said it was on track "to reach our end goal by 2020".
"We are building the NBN network and activating end users faster than we have ever done before, and are currently making over 60,000 premises serviceable each week," Mr Ryan said.
But the number of consumers using NBN services was lagging behind its connection rate, as less than half the households ready to connect to the network had signed up to use it.
Just 2.2 million households and businesses had taken out NBN services so far, figures showed, and while 250,000 premises were "made serviceable" each month, only 130,000 users signed up to an NBN service.
All Australian telephone and fixed broadband users will have to adopt the service within 18 months of their home being declared "ready for service," however, when existing phone and internet connections will be cut.
But Internet Australia executive director Laurie Patton said while the NBN's rollout had accelerated, it was a false economy created by using inferior, slower technology, such as old copper phone lines.
"We are not building a 21st century broadband network," he said. "When they finish, it's only a matter of five or 10 years that they'll have to rebuild large segments of the network with fibre (optic cable)."
The NBN is expected to connect 9.1 million homes and businesses by 2018.