NBN Co to run FTTP in TPG's FTTB buildings

By Andrew Collins
Tuesday, 13 May, 2014

NBN Co to run FTTP in TPG's FTTB buildings

NBN Co plans to run fibre-to-the-premises in some apartment buildings where service providers like TPG have already deployed fibre-to-the-basement, the organisation revealed last week.

The news surfaced from a meeting last week of the Senate’s National Broadband Network Select Committee.

NBN Co is currently running an FTTB pilot in Melbourne, involving several retail service providers (RSPs), in order to “gauge the consumer experience”, NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow told the committee. The first end users have already been connected in these trials.

According to NBN Co CTO Gary McLaren, these trials will continue “to the end of the financial year, if not a little bit longer”.

But the results of the trials may not end up being made public. McLaren told the committee that the results are “essentially for us to define our wholesale products”, and whether they are publicly released or not will be a decision for NBN Co’s customer team.

Morrow added, “It is our intent and our interest to disclose as much as feasible that does not damage any of the commercial relationships that we have.”

TPG conflict

The committee quizzed the NBN Co representatives on NBN Co’s response to TPG’s intention to deploy FTTB in particular multidwelling units (MDUs) in certain Australian capital cities.

The NBN Co representatives confirmed that in MDUs where TPG (or, indeed, any other organisation) had already installed FTTB equipment, technical limitations meant that NBN Co would not be able to offer FTTB in that building.

“So no-one has found a solution worldwide to competing FTTB boxes interfering with each other?” committee member Senator Stephen Conroy asked.

“No, not that I am aware of from different independent DSLAMs [run by two separate companies],” McLaren said.

This would not be an issue with multiple FTTB services deployed by NBN Co in the one building, however.

“If it is two services provided by us, that is a different issue because they are in phase with one another and therefore they do not cancel each other,” Morrow said.

They noted that vectoring does not seem to be a possible solution for this problem.

“What vectoring does is solve that problem when it is coming from the one DSLAM or box. When it is coming from independent DSLAMs, that advantage or cancelling out the interference obviously disappears, so it becomes a situation where it is more likely non-vectored service where it intersects,” McLaren said.

Adcock revealed that NBN Co plans to run fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) to some apartments in the broad geographic areas TPG is targeting - Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane - “by the end of this financial year”.

Morrow clarified: “The idea was that there is a potential problem to the model behind NBN if we have this large-scale material change of cherry-pickers. We felt it was in the interest of the taxpayers and in the interest of NBN Co to offer a competitive response.

“We have outlined which areas we will do that in and we have said that we will do it by the end of the financial year. The only product that we have available today is fibre-to-the-premise, and that will be the product which we are offering.”

He further clarified that NBN Co would be accelerating this service to “key buildings” in the broad areas TPG is targeting.

Adcock said “the current view” is that NBN Co’s FTTB product will be available to end users in October, “pending a successful trial which is looking positive”.

However, he noted that “that view could change: it could come forward; it could go back”.

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