Home Telecoms & NBN NBN Co revenue up, but red ink still on balance sheet

NBN Co revenue up, but red ink still on balance sheet

NBN Co, the company rolling out Australia's national broadband network, has pulled in $405 million revenue during the first quarter of fiscal 2018, an increase of 124% over the $181 million generated in the corresponding quarter a year ago.

But the company is still haemorrhaging money just three years out from the scheduled end of the rollout. The loss recorded before interest and taxes was $1.26 billion, an increase of 54% from the first quarter for the previous financial year.

The average revenue per user has stayed more or less static since the previous financial year, rising from $42 in September 2016 to $43 during quarter one this year.

Last month, NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow said during an interview that unless the company received ARPU of $52 per user, it would be unable to break even.

Announcing financials for the quarter today, Morrow said: “Strong foundations have been laid by the hardworking NBN Co team, along with our delivery partners and retailers, playing a significant role in accelerating the rollout and activating services at an extraordinary pace."

head results

The company, which is wholly government-owned, saw the number of activated premises rise to a total of 2,963,552 during the quarter. A year ago, that number was 1,378,273.

The number of premises ready for services was 6,421,828 at the end of the quarter, which means that more than half the dwellings in the country are ready for service. This was 99% more than the 3,231.389 at the end of the first quarter of the previous financial year.

But of the six million-plus, 323,586 were not yet ready to connect, meaning that some problem or the other has been identified. The NBN Co has said in the past that it will tackle these premises after the rollout ends.

“With confidence we seek to take it a step further to deliver the biggest deployment year in NBN Co history, which will bring us to three-quarters of eligible premises ready for service by the end of fiscal year 2018," Morrow said.

The NBN Co's equity has risen to $29.5 billion, a rise of 35% over the corresponding quarter a year ago.

By 2020, the company aims to have 11.6 million homes ready for service, 8.1 million connected, and annual revenue of $4.9 billion.

Commenting on the results, Labor communications spokesperson Michelle Rowland said: "The results posted today are quite disappointing. Over the past 12 months 1 million new FttN services have been activated – more than all the other NBN technologies put together."

She said despite this, the flatlining revenue figures showed that consumers were giving copper a thumbs down.

“With every passing day, (Prime Minister Malcolm) Turnbull’s poor judgement on his second-rate technology-mix is being exposed," Rowland added.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.