SYTHEO, one of NBN Co’s biggest contractors, responsible for rolling out the $37.4 billion national broadband network in South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, has suffered significant delays and failed to meet targets.
NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley admitted to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committe in Senate Estimates on Tuesday evening that an earlier forecast for just under 300,000 premises to be passed by June 2013 had been downgraded to almost 286,000.
Premises are said to be passed when construction work to the property is complete and residents can request a broadband servic, The Australian Financial Review reports.
Syntheo is a 50-50 joint-venture between Lend Lease and Service Stream.
“In a project like this there are some ups and downs,” Mr Quigley said. “In October we were forecasting just under 300,000 premises passed and we’re now forecasting ... almost 286,000.
“The reason for the change is one of our construction partners has reduced significantly their forecast since we presented back in October timeframe.”
Mr Quigley said Syntheo was responsible for Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. He added the company was responsible for 17 per cent of the national target of 286,000 premises passed by June 2013.
When Coalition Senator Simon Birmingham asked if any premises in WA and the NT were able to use the NBN, Mr Quigley said “no”. Of the 25 areas being worked on by Syntheo Mr Quigley said none were active.
“(It is because) the contractor we are using there is ramping up and obviously facing some challenges and we’re working with them to try and overcome those,” Mr Quigley said.
“We’re working closely with Syntheo so we can overcome the issues. There’s a variety of reasons, there’s a range of issues.”
Simon Birmingham said: “Once again NBN Co have revised down targets, this time having failed to deliver a single connection from 19 months of construction in 25 areas across three states.”
When asked how much Syntheo had been forced to write down in its expectations, Mr Quigley said it would not be appropriate to say.
“There’s been a significant reduction ... but to talk about a specific contractor and the actual shift in the numbers would be inappropriate because we are in discussions with them,” he said.
Shadow minister for communications and broadband, Malcolm Turnbull said: “After 19 months of the so-called ‘volume rollout’ in Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory, the NBN Co has not been able to offer any additional services in those states.”
“Not only has the Syntheo rollout failed to deliver a single activated service in 19 months, the NBN Co has also acknowledged that most of the premises in multi dwelling units passed by the NBN fibre cannot be connected to the service.”
An NBN Co spokesman said the company was still on track to meet its corporate plan targets.