But the NBN Co has again failed to raise the level of a metric it has long touted as having to reach $52 before it breaks even – its average revenue per user or ARPU. This remained stuck at $45 for the nine months.
It is fair to assume that NBN Co registered another loss for the third quarter, although this was not explicitly stated. When it reported results for the first six months of the current financial year, the losses were $2.113 billion, a drop from the $2.817 billion for the first six months of 2019-20.
Going by the results for the first six months, the revenue figure for the third quarter was $1.24 billion.
The EBITDA for the nine months, including subscriber costs, was $895 million, a $1.6 billion improvement on the figure for the nine months in the previous financial year, the company claimed.
NBN Co paid $1.054 billion in subscriber costs to Telstra and Optus, a 47% drop compared to the $1.985 billion paid for the first nine months of 2019-20.
A total of 835,000 new customers have connected to the network in the nine months to March 31, making a total of 8.1 million for the nine months. This means that 200,000 have been connected during the third quarter alone, given that the figure for connected premises in the first six months was 7.9 million.
NBN Co chief executive Stephen Rue said: “We are pleased with the solid progress we have achieved and recorded across all of our key financial and operating metrics in the third quarter.
"Revenue was particularly strong, largely due to new customer activations on the network and upgrades to higher speed services. We are well placed to achieve our FY21 total revenue target of $4.5 billion, as outlined in the Corporate Plan.
“Our EBITDA performance showed a significant improvement over the previous corresponding period as a result of high revenue growth, which will support our long-term reinvestment in the network, and a 28% decrease in total operating expenses, including subscriber costs. We expect to achieve our FY21 EBITDA target of $1.3 billion.
“We have continued to invest in supporting the industry and end user customers through initiatives such as the COVID-19 CVC Credit Offer, which came to an end after almost a year on 31 January 2021.
“Our Focus on Fast initiative, which commenced on 1 February 2021 and offers rebates to retailers to incentivise sales of higher speed tiers, has helped to lift more customers to higher speed tiers with approximately 10% of customers now on plans based on wholesale speed tiers of 100 Mbps and an additional 7% of customers on plans offering download speeds of 250 Mbps and close to 1 Gbps.
“We are making excellent progress on our $4.5 billion network investment program, having identified and announced the suburbs and towns that will comprise the first 1.1 million of 2 million premises that will benefit from our extension of fibre deeper into communities with greater access to higher speed services, on demand.
“To date, about 3.5 million premises can access our Home Ultrafast plans offering download speeds of close to 1 Gbps and by June 2023, we’re forecasting that 75% of premises on our fixed line network – or around eight million premises – will be able to access our highest speed Home Ultrafast services.”
In April the NBN Co had a successful, inaugural US$2 billion (A$2.6 billion) bond issue in US capital markets. Including this, since March 2020, the company has raised more than $12 billion in new debt, including $8.5 billion in private bank debt and $1.6 billion through five and ten-year domestic bonds.
NBN Co intends to refinance the remainder of its $16.5 billion debt facility from the Australian Government with private debt by 30 June 2024.