NBN Co today announced a "pause" in new orders for HFC services as it scrambles to implement a remediation programme for existing and future users of its troubled HFC network.
A new HFC "customer experience improvement programme" announced by the company involves "advanced network testing and remediation where needed, wholesale connector replacements, signal amplification calibration, and lead-in work as required".
They don't sound like "customer experience" issues to us, but rather "network quality" issues.
But while the new programme is being implemented, no more new orders for services over HFC will be accepted, leaving some households and businesses on their existing non-NBN broadband services for longer than they may have expected.
The change of timing will be reflected by the "check your address" feature of NBN Co's website in the coming weeks, but chief executive Bill Morrow said he was still confident of completing the build by 2020.
According to NBN Co, the programme will "help improve end user experience and retailer satisfaction", which is tantamount to an admission that the experience has not been satisfactory and that retailers are dissatisfied.
The company said while its management was pleased that many end users served over its HFC network were satisfied, too many were not having the experience they deserved when getting connected and some were not experiencing the full potential of the network.
"So we can provide a better experience to our customers and their end users, NBN Co will immediately implement new initiatives designed to improve the quality of service for end users on our HFC network," said Morrow.
"In order to deliver an improved experience on HFC, NBN Co will be performing additional work ahead of end users being able to connect to NBN services on the HFC network.
"With the incremental work now required before a home is declared ready to connect, we are focused on providing a better service to our customers (the internet service providers) and thereby improving the experience for the end user.
"While the good news is that we are working on a better experience for the internet providers and end users, the improvement efforts will take additional time and therefore a delay of schedule will occur for most of the remaining HFC premises that have yet to switch to services on the NBN access network."
He added "There are so many elements of this industry transformation that we cannot directly control, but we are serious about improving that which we can. This is a deliberate change to demonstrate NBN Co’s focus on putting the customer experience as a priority over all else.
"The HFC access technology is used around the world to deliver reliable high speed broadband services. This technology is an important part of NBN Co’s technology mix."
There was no indication of when NBN Co would start taking HFC orders again, but according to at least one report the delay will be between six and nine months.