ACT News

Thousands of Canberrans misled, says NBN Co heavyweight

Public misled: NBN Co chief operating officer Greg Adcock.
Public misled: NBN Co chief operating officer Greg Adcock. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Tens of thousands of Canberrans were misled by original maps published by NBN Co showing broadband construction had started when in fact it had not, the company's chief operating officer says. 

A parliamentary hearing involving NBN Co on Monday finished with a loud verbal sparring match between the ACT's two senators and revealed in glaring detail how the hopes of territory residents have been dashed.

NBN Co chief operating officer Greg Adcock said the company's rollout maps during the era of the federal Labor government did not use the mainstream definition of the word "construction". 

"The maps put up there on the NBN Co website ... were put up there when very very preliminary design had been contemplated but the label given was 'construction commenced'," Mr Adcock said. 

"'Construction commenced' led people to believe there was building in the streets and that was incorrect.

"In the traditional meaning of the word 'construction', meaning people were actually out there building stuff, that was not the case."


Mr Adcock is a former Telstra executive who has been in the job for seven months. He was brought into the organisation after the Coalition took power. 

Labor Senator Kate Lundy chaired the hearing and dominated the hour-long session with Mr Adcock with questions about Canberra, about few of which could provide much new information.

At one point Ms Lundy told him there were some "very bandwidth-hungry people in Canberra" who had been waiting a long time to have their needs met. 

On another occasion she accused Liberal Senator Zed Seselja of verballing the witness when he asked whether Canberrans had been misled by the previous rollout maps.

Mr Seselja responded with: "You now directing me how to ask questions now? Is this the nature of these hearings? I can understand why you are sensitive on this, Senator Lundy."

After the hearing Ms Lundy said territory residents were still in the dark about when they would receive broadband. 

She said almost 110,000 homes and businesses in the ACT were on the NBN Co three-year rollout maps and did not know if they are still in the NBN Co plans to be connected after maps were removed from the NBN Co website in late October.

NBN Co told the committee fibre had been put down in streets passing 25,547 ACT premises, of which 39 per cent was activated,  mostly in Gungahlin. 

Construction had started in parts of Civic. Detailed design work is being done in four other areas servicing the suburbs of Campbell, Turner, Braddon and Reid, although NBN Co could not provide a time frame for the completion of that detailed design work and when construction would start.

“NBN Co could not provide any information regarding how the existing Transact network would be incorporated within the Coalition’s multi-technology network, nor could they identify what areas of Canberra will receive a fibre-to-the-premise connection compared to fibre-to-the-node," Ms Lundy said. 

“What we have learnt however is that the rollout of the NBN in Canberra has slowed to a snail’s pace under the Coalition – clearly Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull’s pre-election commitment to deliver the NBN faster did not apply to Canberra households and business”.

Earlier in the day IT expert Pascal Grosvenor, from the Twitter group My Broadband vs Reality, said an unscientific survey of hundreds of respondents found the government's My Broadband website was consistently over-calculating people's median internet speeds. 

Mr Grosvenor also said the weather and how it affects internet speed should be taken into account more often.