Positive news from the gang at NBN today, with the National Broadband Network now available to five million homes and businesses across Australia.
While this doesn't mean that five million premises are actually connected to the NBN - that number is actually only around 2.2 million - it does refer to the number of retail locations and houses that are now able to access high-speed broadband through the network. NBN is hoping to expand to more than eight million homes and businesses across the country by 2020.
In the short term, NBN plans to make a further million premises serviceable between April and June, with a mid-year target of 5.4 million locations. Chief Network Engineering Officer, Peter Ryan, has stated that NBN is currently making over 60,000 premises serviceable each week.
According to the company, the rollout milestone is in part due to the deployment of Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) and Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) technologies, which now cover around half of the five million connectable locations. NBN expects between 43% and 54% of premises to eventually connect via FTTN, and between 21% and 27% to HFC, mostly in capital cities.
Despite the not-always-positive media coverage of the network rollout, activations continue to be on the rise. NBN reports that around 130,000 new premises are signing up to its broadband via resellers each month, with nearly one in two Australians now able to access retail service.
Do Aussies want fast broadband?
Interestingly, data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics seems to support recent claims by NBN CEO Bill Morrow that broadband customers aren't looking for high-speed connections. The ABS reports that 56.1% of surveyed broadband internet subscribers are on plans of between 24Mbps to less than 100Mbps, as of December 2016.
Earlier this year, Morrow stated that NBN data shows most customers order service with maximum download speeds of 25Mbps or less. Obviously, the higher cost of ultra-fast broadband speeds, plus the prevalence of ADSL, means many Australians are using slower services. But it also seems a lack of awareness of - or interest in - faster options may also explain the reluctance to move to 100Mbps speeds.
Super-fast broadband is especially useful for businesses, which is why Tasmanian telco Launtel is set to launch Australia's first-ever gigabit NBN service in Tasmania. We've got more on the launch in this article, but the business-only plans are expected to cost around $1000 per month.
Fortunately, if you're just looking for a good home broadband connection, you won't pay nearly as much. To find out if your home is covered by the NBN, head to our up-to-date rollout map and enter your address. And to shop for the best fast broadband plans in your area, start your search here.