NBN Co has more than doubled its revenue as connections to the network accelerate, but the company acknowledges it is months away from addressing growing frustrations among customers.
With 2.4 million homes and businesses now active NBN users through service provider’s like Telstra or Optus, NBN Co’s revenue rose from $421 million in the 2015/16 financial year to $1 billion in 2016/17.
But while the NBN provides download speeds of up to 100 megabytes per second, the majority of customers have selected speeds of 25Mbps or less – reflecting the network’s under-utilised potential.
Telecommunications expert Paul Budde said Australians can’t afford the highest speeds.
“NBN Co’s business model is set by the government,” he said.
“Instead of rolling out to those who want or can afford a premium service – like a normal commercial enterprise – the company’s objective is to link the entire country like a social-economic investment.”
Mr Budde said the cost of this investment is then borne by retail service providers (RSPs) which are selling broadband.
“(The RSPs) are burdened by the market reality that $60 to $70 dollars only gets you a second rate service with disappointing speeds,” he said.
NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow also admitted the process of transferring customers onto NBN services has not always been user-friendly.
“We know we have an issue with the activation process for too many end users, we have daily meetings about how that is getting addressed,” he said.
“We’re working closely with the RSPs to be able to rectify this and it is the top priority within the company.
“I believe its going to take us a number of months before we can actually address this adequately.”
He said 75 per cent of users have transferred to the NBN within 18 months of it rolling out in their area, ahead of the company’s target of 74 per cent.
In the 2016/17 financial year, 2.8 million premises were connected to NBN infrastructure, bringing the total to 5.7 million.
Regional construction is now two-thirds complete and the metro footprint is one-third complete, and average weekly activations 45,000 homes are expected to increase as the rollout ramps up in major cities.
Mr Morrow said the company’s 2020 targets remain in place, with a completed build connecting 8 million homes, driving $8 billion in annual revenue.