Turnbull sceptical over latest NBN Co figures

Communication Minister Malcolm Turnbull remains sceptical of broadband connection figures released by NBN Co, saying the annual report does not provide a "meaningful indicator of progress".

Communication Minister Malcolm Turnbull remains sceptical of broadband connection figures released by NBN Co, saying the annual report does not provide a "meaningful indicator of progress".

NBN Co claims it has started or completed connecting nearly 1.2 million premises as at 30 June, a figure disputed by Mr Turnbull.

"A casual observer might assume this figure just includes premises able to connect to the [network], plus those where physical construction is under way," he said. "In fact, construction commenced also includes premises where high-level design work has been performed but actual physical build work ... has yet to commence."

Mr Turnbull also questioned NBN Co's claim it had "passed" (able to obtain service if wanted) about 200,000 premises since the government-owned telecom monopoly started construction. He said more than a third of premises counted by NBN Co as "services ready" could not be connected.

He said NBN Co needed to be more transparent and he was committed to increasing the frequency and volume of information.

Former NBN Co chairwoman Siobhan McKenna said the company made considerable progress this year and the uptake rate of service was high. She said nearly 35 per cent of people in connected areas took up services.

Ms McKenna resigned after the Coalition election victory and was replaced by Ziggy Switkowski.

NBN Co has suffered repeated delays in rolling out its fibre network but says it has met its revised construction target of "passing" 190,000 to 220,000 premises, a figure that is disputed.

The company lost nearly $1 billion due the high cost of building the network. Wages accounted for nearly 50 per cent of the loss.

NBN Co increased its capital expenditure considerably in the past year, from $1.1 billion last year to $1.8 billion this year.

Nearly a third of last year's capital expenditure was on wireless and satellite, which only accounted for 7 per cent of NBN Co's total covered area.

The government is conducting a strategic review of NBN Co, which includes an analysis of the progress and cost of the roll-out.

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