Turnbull claims fibre NBN signups have tripled since election

Since gaining the reins of Australia's National Broadband Network, the number of active subscribers on the fibre network has more or less tripled.

In Australian federal parliamentary Question Time yesterday, the Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, crowed about the number of new connections on the National Broadband Network that have been activated since last September's election.

"The NBN has now over 200,000 paying customers, and we have trebled the number of paying, connected customers on the fibre network since the election," Turnbull said.

"Our focus has been on actually connecting people, getting fibre to the premises and getting people to pay for it."

As part of today's announcement on a new deal signed between Telstra and NBN Co to deploy fibre to the node, rather than the current fibre to the premise (FttP) that the network uses, to parts of New South Wales and Queensland, Turnbull reiterated his claims stating that the network had only 48,000 customers when he took charge, and now boasts of 146,000 fibre customers.

There's only one problem with the claims made by Turnbull, they are out by a week.

Using the weekly NBN Co rollout numbers, for the week ending September 1, NBN Co reported 47362 fibre connections across brownfield and greenfield areas, similarly, for the week ending September 8, NBN Co reported 49232 fibre connections across its network.

Looking at the latest weekly progress report from NBN Co (PDF), the total number of brownfield and greenfield connections sits at 146905 premises, which is more than triple the September 1 number, but shy of the tripling September 8 activation number, and only by 791 premises.

While it could be regarded as hair splitting to point out the failure to meet a target by only one half of a percent, the minister and his office could have simply waited another week for the number to be correct. Playing games with numbers is not a way to engender trust, and the upcoming switch by NBN Co to FttN will need to have all the minor details correct to avoid the deluge of vitriol that will be thrown at it.

TechRepublic has asked the minister's office to explain the discrepancies.

Disputes over less than seven days of NBN Co activations aside, since February, the number of new connections to existing brownfield premises has rarely fallen under 1500 premises a week, by contrast, the number of activated connections to new greenfields areas has not exceeded 900 in any week over the same time period.

Chris Duckett/TechRepublic

This unsurprisingly leads to the total number of fibre activations across the NBN to track new brownfield connections.

Chris Duckett/TechRepublic

To put the connection numbers in perspective, below for the same time period is the total number of premises passed, and premises serviceable.

Chris Duckett/TechRepublic

In the nine months since Malcolm Turnbull gained the reins on the NBN rollout, the network has almost, but not quite, doubled the number premises passed and serviceable by the fibre to the premises.

And in a shock to what one may expect, Malcolm Turnbull is now the Communications Minister responsible for the largest deployment of FttP across Australia. Former ministers Stephen Conroy and Anthony Albanese were responsible for 207,543 and 53,454 premises receiving fibre respectively, and by this week's count, Turnbull has seen 221,307 premises gain an FttP connection under his watch.

It's not quite the doubling of the Labor fibre rollout by the end of June that Turnbull promised in November last year, but however it is sliced and diced, Turnbull now has the mantle of "Mr Fibre" to add to his repertoire, or as he would probably prefer it, "Lord Fibre of Wentworth".

By Chris Duckett

Some would say that it is a long way from software engineering to journalism, others would correctly argue that it is a mere 10 metres according to the floor plan. During his first five years with CBS Interactive, Chris started his journalistic adven...