The National Broadband Network (NBN) has had to delay its next major upgrade to the network for the first time since its launch in 2013.
The delay comes as a result of a “critical engineering and quality assurance test”, NBN Co said in a statement on Thursday.
“NBN Co’s engineers are continuing to perform the required work and we expect to have a full report on this next phase of work within 24 hours,” it said.
“This is an important milestone for our rollout, as it will enable us to make the next major step in the network rollout by early 2019.”
The delay means the next phase will not start until early 2021, a full three years after the NBN’s launch.
“It’s a critical milestone for the rollout of the National Broadbands,” NBN Co chairman Ziggy Switkowski said.
“As we move to the next stage of the rollout we will be able to identify and address the most significant issues and make sure we deliver a network that is secure, resilient and capable of delivering the best quality for our customers.”
He said the next step in rollout would be the rollout to “small businesses”.
NBN says its next phase is ‘critical’ The delay in the rollout will come as NBN Co is working to complete the next round of the Network Upgrade Workforce Assessment (NWA), which involves identifying the most critical issues to be addressed, according to the company.
It said the NWA had to cover “a wide range of issues” that NBN Co had identified during the first stage of its work, which involved “further testing, finalisation and design”.
The second stage, which covers “major infrastructure and critical infrastructure,” was due to be completed by the end of the year.
The company said NBN Co has been working on the second stage since early 2016, and that it would be completed in the next few months.
Nerealink chief executive Greg Hywood said in an interview with News24 that NBN’s next phase would be “critical” for the network.
He said the company is now working with NBN Co and other stakeholders to ensure the network is “capable” of delivering fibre to the node.
“[NBN] is working hard with other organisations, and with other parties, to identify all the critical issues that are impacting the rollout,” he said.
NBN Co says ‘next phase’ is expected to be complete by end of 2020 “We’re working very closely with the Government, with the other parties and the industry to make sure that we can deliver the best, the most resilient, the best value for our customer,” Mr Hywood added.
Hywood said that it was important to note that the NBN rollout was already “extremely successful”, but that the next milestone was expected to “make the NBN even better”.
“The next phase’s critical is to make it as strong as it was before.
So, that’s really important to the customer, that they get the best of the network, the highest speed, the lowest cost and the most reliable service,” he added.