Sydney suburbs stuck in NBN limbo
Despite promises the National Broadband Network will be completed next year, documents show thousands of Australian households and businesses don't even have a date for its arrival.
More than 120 Australian suburbs are still in NBN limbo, with the company behind the $51 billion infrastructure project unable to reveal when it will be ready to deliver broadband in the areas.
And the towns in question are not beyond the black stump - many are in our capital cities.
The news comes just days before NBN Co is due to release its 2020-2023 Corporate Plan, and after chief executive Stephen Rue last month promised the project was "on schedule".
Telstra Wholesale NBN planning documents list 123 suburbs across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia under "dummy" dates as they have received no guidance from NBN Co on a delivery time frame.
It's understood the areas were to be connected to the NBN using existing pay-TV or hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) cables, but the infrastructure is not yet up to an acceptable standard.
An NBN Co spokeswoman said "work" would continue in the 123 suburbs as part of an HFC optimisation program and services would be "progressively released to market".
"Existing telephone and broadband services will remain in place until optimisation works are completed and residents can order a retail service over the NBN access network," she said in a statement.
The lack of NBN delivery dates follows extended delays on the sale of NBN services over HFC connections, starting in November 2017 when then CEO Bill Morrow halted the rollout due to technical problems and slow, unreliable connections.
Telecommunications analyst Paul Budde said the latest NBN problem showed the project continued to struggle with old infrastructure that was not up to the task.
"They've had problems with HFC and they still can't get it right," he said.
"If you start with the wrong infrastructure, you're always trying to catch up. This is a problem that will be with us for the next decade."
But Mr Budde said homeowners in the listed suburbs would not be the only people left out of the NBN's immediate rollout as he expected more homes with problematic NBN connections would be forced to wait years for connections or remediation.
"There are still hundreds of thousands of connections that are not satisfactory and they are being put in the too-hard basket," he said. "They will only start looking at them when (they deem) the rollout to be completed."
RMIT network engineering associate professor Mark Gregory said a growing number of so-called "service class zero" premises where NBN could not be delivered was likely to delay its true completion date by up to two years.
"We're really talking about, at best, as mid to late 2022 before you could say the NBN is fully built and operational, and even then it will be with caveats," he warned.
NBN Co is due to launch its plan for the next three years on Friday.
LAST ON THE LIST FOR THE NBN IN NSW
Lane Cove North
Lane Cove West