WORK has started to connect 3200 homes in parts of Beldon, Kallaroo and Mullaloo to the national broadband network.
Federal Communications Minister Mitch Fifield and Moore MHR Ian Goodenough were in Mullaloo last Friday to mark the beginning of network construction in the area.
Earlier in the week, NBN Co announced 2 million homes and businesses were connected across the country and more than 4.5 million premises were able to order the service.
It expects to reach the halfway point of the network build by the middle of the year, with the ultimate goal for all Australians to have access by the end of 2020 at a forecast cost of between $46 billion and $54 billion.
Prior to the 2013 election, then Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the project would cost $29.5 billion and be completed by 2019, with download speeds of 25mb/s available to everyone by the end of 2016.
Mr Fifield said about 6000 premises were being activated each day nationwide.
“In WA the rollout is closer to 40 per cent complete so our focus and the focus of NBN is keeping the rollout on track and so far, since we’ve been in the saddle, NBN has hit every budget milestone and hit its rollout milestone,” he said.
Despite fewer than half of people with access to the network signed up, he described the take- up rate as “good” and attributed the disparity to the 18 months people had to connect.
Last month, Mr Goodenough told Federal parliament he had been contacted by residents in suburbs including Duncraig, Edgewater, Marmion, Kingsley and Woodvale, about inadequate access to broadband services.
“There exists an urgent and compelling need to upgrade the telecommunications infrastructure by implementing the National Broadband Network in a more timely manner,” he said.
Mr Goodenough told the Times NBN Co had control over operational decisions for the rollout and he was pushing them to complete it as quickly as possible but understood work crews were often met with unforeseen obstacles that slowed down the installation process.
He said it was a topical issue in the electorate, particularly in more established suburbs.
“They have been waiting a long time and its great to see that the rollout is happening,” he said.
But he believed it “could always be done quicker”.
“I think there are about 5500 premises that have the availability in Moore and we hope to get to about 55,000 premises by 2018, I think about 1800 premises have connected already so it’s something that’s a priority,” he said.
Mr Fifield said the network’s purpose was to address issues of inadequate service.
“There are people throughout Australia who aren’t getting the sorts of services that they should be entitled to so that’s the genesis of the NBN,” he said.
There’s a number of factors they need to take into account such as when exchanges are available and ready but they do endeavour to prioritise where they can, under serviced areas.
“Our objective is to get the NBN built as soon as possible so that the whole nation has it as soon as possible.
“Given the scope of the exercise and the complexity of it, I’m pretty happy with how it’s rolling out.”
Construction in Beldon, Kallaroo and Mullaloo is using Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) technology (via existing pay TV cables) and will next move to remaining parts of the suburbs, as well as Craigie, Heathridge, Hillarys, Ocean Reef, and Padbury, and residents can expect to connect to the network in the next few months.
About 7500 homes in Kingsley and Woodvale will also receive a HFC connection, with work delayed from the first half of this year to the second half of the year.
NBN Co spokeswoman Ebony Aitken said the delay was because the “sheer size and complexity of the network build means there will always be a need for flexibility and this can sometimes cause a change in rollout”.
She said the company planned to launch DOCSIS 3.1 technology via the HFC broadband, which would see deployment of the first gigabit speeds over cable broadband networks.
“It’s exciting news for locals who will soon be able to experience the benefits of super-fast broadband,” she said.
“As we move further into the digital age, fast and reliable broadband becomes more vital than ever in areas such as business, health, education, entertainment and leisure.”
The updated rollout schedule released in February shows people in Burns Beach, Currambine, Iluka, Joondalup and Kinross can expect to start switching on in early to mid-2018.
Residents in Duncraig, Sorrento, Greenwood, Marmion and Warwick, as well as on the Wanneroo exchange, which includes Banksia Grove, Edgewater, Pearsall, Mariginiup, Tapping and Wanneroo, will be able to connect in mid to late 2018.
NBN Co has moved from its three-year construction rollout schedule to an address checker function on its website, which provides expected availability of the service for each premises.