31 August 2018
E & OE
Good morning everyone and thank you very much for joining us.
Ladies and gentlemen, today NBN Co is releasing its fourth Corporate Plan following the change in policy under this Government to the multi-technology mix.
As we have often said, the NBN is Australia’s largest and most complex infrastructure project, and as such has been one of the most challenging undertakings.
Looking back at the foundational Corporate Plan released in August 2015 it is remarkable how many milestones have now been reached. Remember, this was a plan derided as virtually impossible.
Yet, the numbers tell a very positive story.
In just three short years, the rollout has reached unprecedented scale and is now on the home stretch.
Three years ago, the first FTTN connection had not even been switched on.
Today more than 2.2 million homes and businesses are receiving their internet and phone service over that technology.
Fibre-to-the-curb was just a concept back then, now it is available at 180,000 premises, and 25,000 have switched over.
More than half of the expected 8 million users are now connected to the network, and two million of those users are on the top two speed tiers of 50 or 100 megabits per second.
It’s fair to say, the NBN is on the way to fulfilling its promise. Recent research has shown that promise has a solid economic foundation. The NBN is enabling more women to start their own businesses and is providing a platform for those wishing to work from home. This is great news for the Australian economy.
What we have seen since 2014 is a substantial turnaround in the NBN project.
The multi-technology rollout is delivering savings of around $30 billion in project costs and will see the network fully complete, on time, in 2020.
Today, the rollout to rural and regional Australia — where there has been longstanding digital disadvantage — is almost complete, and 1.3 million premises previously identified as underserved now have access to fast broadband.
The plan of 2015 only included a three-year outlook, as required under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act. So the forecasts made back then can now be fully reconciled, with nbn having finalised its results for the fiscal 17-18 year.
Interestingly, revenue has remained on target or a little above and activations have held fairly closely to schedule. The original plan of 2015 had forecast 4.395 million activations by mid 2018, and to date nbn has completed 4.256 million, with about 120,000 more being added each month.
That being said, the past year has seen a number of forecast variations emerge as NBN Co sought to recalibrate targets and make the entire rollout strategy more consumer-centric.
The primary focus on rollout numbers has given way to a more balanced approach which seeks to maintain rollout momentum without it causing inconvenience and disruption to the households and businesses going through the switch-over.
We all recognise that households and businesses are highly dependent on their internet connections. And maintaining reliable service is nbn’s first priority.
While the majority of customers were pleased with their nbn service, it became clear last year that user feedback was pointing to a number of issues. Internet speeds for some were falling noticeably during the evening.
And the full utility of the nbn was being foregone because consumers could not be tempted to pay more for faster speeds. nbn also recognised that the HFC network was not sufficiently robust to cope with the large numbers of households migrating onto that service.
Despite this, and the costs associated with a change of approach, the last financial year still saw NBN Co connect a record number of services, launch the latest technology in the toolkit — fibre-to-the-curb — and introduce the tremendously successful Focus on 50 pricing discount.
Looking ahead nbn has set achievable rollout targets over the remaining two years, which take account of the changing nature of the fixed line deployment. As FTTN nears completion nbn’s focus is switching to scaling up FTTC and the large-volume release of HFC services in metro areas.
Before I hand over to nbn’s new CEO, Stephen Rue, I would like to pay tribute to his predecessor Bill Morrow. Bill has had one of the toughest gigs in corporate Australia — getting the NBN rollout back on its feet, building a high-performing team and co-ordinating the vast army of workers engaged in the rollout — and all under the glare of a sceptical media and public. He has done a remarkable job, and has been ably assisted by Mr Rue and the whole team.
Stephen takes over at pivotal point in the life cycle of the NBN, with the rollout completion in view and the challenge ahead to transition the business into a self-sustaining operating model.
Stephen is the right person to take NBN Co forward. Over the past four years, he has brought financial rigour to the company and transformed its procurement and supply processes.
I will now hand over to Stephen to take you through the details of nbn’s 2019-22 Corporate Plan.