How Does The NBN Rollout Workout?

With today’s release of the much anticipated NBN 3-Year Rollout Plan, there have inevitably been some people who are excited, and some who are disappointed.

While so many people would all love to be first, as reiterated by NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley at today’s announcement, it is simply not possible to build the fibre out to all twelve million locations in just three years.

Someone has to be first, and someone has to be last – an unfortunate consequence of a project of this magnitude.

But what of the areas that were announced today?

How were those boundaries defined? As someone who has worked in the telco space for many years, it is quite simple to see that they have drawn those boundaries based on existing exchange boundaries of the copper network.

This makes perfect sense.

The just completed Telstra deal allows NBN Co to use all of Telstra’s existing underground infrastructure to haul the new fibre through – logically, that means the areas are based on the old exchange boundaries, and the individual modules of the network are based on the old copper concept of the “DA”, or distribution area.

Within the copper network, a DA services about 3000 premises. Lo and behold, in NBN land, a network module services about 3000 premises. This pretty clearly defines that the fibre goes exactly where the copper is now, with very few exceptions.

In deciding where to build in any given 12 month period, it seems NBN Co are covering two existing exchange areas at a time.

For example, in my local Geelong area, there are two areas listed in the 3-year plan. The first covers:

“Bell Park, Bell Post Hill, Breakwater, Drumcondra, East Geelong, Geelong, Geelong West, Hamlyn Heights, Herne Hill, Manifold Heights, Newtown, Norlane, North Geelong, North Shore, Rippleside, South Geelong, Thomson”.

If you look at the maps of the two exchange areas – (Geelong [GEEM] and North Geelong [NGLG]) – serving those suburbs, they exactly match the above group of suburbs:

The same happens when you look at the second area to be covered:

“Batesford, Bell Post Hill, Corio, Lara, Lovely Banks, Norlane”

…and then look at the maps of those two existing exchange areas – (Corio [CORI] and Lara [LARA]):

While the southern areas of Geelong have been left out so far, if they stick to the “two exchanges areas at a time” methodology, at the next update, the adjacent Belmont [BELM] and Grovedale [GROX] exchanges are pretty likely to be included.

So if your area missed out today, take heart that if a nearby area was included today, your area is not likely to be too far behind.

There is a method in the madness. Just try and control your madness if you did miss out today.

We all want it, and it will come.