IT Web — NBN will give developers the opportunity to ditch aerial cables for free-to-air television in their greenfields developments by offering the infrastructure through fibre. The national network builder today revealed it was working on a TV infrastructure offering for new developments, which it is planning to make available in the first quarter of next year. NBN would charge for the service on top of the fees it levies on developers to connect their apartment blocks and estates with fibre.
IT News — The national network builder will soon be controlled by a new license condition dictating how it shares information on the rollout with retail service providers, despite protestations against the move. Earlier this year the government asked the ACCC to consult with the industry on whether to introduce a new carrier licence condition for NBN (formerly NBN Co), which would govern the rollout information it provides to RSPs.
The federal government is likely to face opposition over its proposal to increase the thickness of overhead cables erected as part of the national broadband network “to the size of your wrist” without requiring local or state planning approvals. Under schedule three of the Telecommunications Act and related regulations, carriers currently have limited immunity from local, state and territory planning and environmental laws when installing overhead cables with a diameter of 30mm or less.
Australia’s national broadband network builder is on track to meet its target of delivering one million serviceable premises and reaching $150 million in telecommunications revenue by the end of the financial year. The company today said its serviceable broadband footprint had reached nearly 900,000 premises as of the end of the March quarter. NBN’s telecommunications revenue cracked $100 million for the March quarter to reach $106 million, its strongest result to date.
A government research bureau has suggested a new levy on Australia’s biggest telcos to help fund the satellite and wireless components of the national broadband network. In its response to the Vertigan review last December, the federal government said it would task a newly-formed research group within the Department of Communications with looking into alternate ways to fund the rollout of the NBN to unprofitable regional and remote areas.
The national broadband network builder is proposing to charge service providers for instances when end-users miss appointments, make late cancellations or want to reactivate their service. NBN today released a list of proposed charges for the LTS – which is scheduled to launch commercially in the second quarter of next year – as part of industry consultation on the fees. A $15 reactivation fee will be charged to cover the cost of each individual reactivation.
TPG has successfully defended itself against NBN (formerly NBN Co) over misleading and deceptive conduct claims arising from its rollout of fibre-to-the-basement. In October last year NBN took Pipe Networks’ parent company TPG to court in NSW over its plans to use the power supply in apartment blocks to roll fibre into the buildings. NBN had claimed the telco was misleading strata managers and building owners by informing them it was legally able to access and draw power from existing sockets.
NBN Co will start offering active services to premises within its 1000-node construction trial of fibre-to-the-node technology from September. Last June, the network builder announced it had partnered with Telstra to test out the planning, design and construction of FTTN in 1000 nodes across Queensland and NSW. The pilot has been designed to inform the best way to tackle a large-scale rollout of FTTN, which has become the default access technology of choice under the Coalition’s multi-technology mix NBN.
NBN Co has embarked on a second trial of fibre-to-the-node technology for 200 end-users to test the network ahead of the commercial launch of an FTTN product. The trial follows NBN Co’s first pilot of FTTN technology at NSW’s Umina Beach. In a test agreement published today – as first reported by NBN watcher jxeeno – NBN Co revealed it had begun work on a new FTTN trial on March 31. The trial will run until November 31 unless extended, the company said.
NBN Co will next month begin a trial of faster speeds on its fixed wireless network in regional areas, offering retail service providers a new speed tier of up to 50Mbps down and 20Mbps up. The trial represents a doubling of the highest wholesale speed tier – capped at 25Mbps – currently on offer for those selling services on the fixed wireless network. The new pilot speeds will be available to all customers on the 25Mbps plan, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the CommsDay Summit in Sydney today.
Telstra and NBN Co have settled a pricing dispute worth $200 million out of court after pulling out of scheduled court hearings this week. A Telstra spokesperson today confirmed the pair had reached a “commercial resolution” on when the consumer price index for payments covered by the 2011 definitive agreements should kick in. The difference between the dates at which NBN Co and Telstra argue the CPI should apply is worth around $200 million. The Telstra spokesperson declined to comment on how the issue had been resolved.
NBN Co and Telstra are attempting to resolve a disagreement over how much NBN Co should pay for access to Telstra’s pits, pipes, ducts and exchanges out of court. Last July Telstra won its case against NBN Co over when the consumer price index (CPI) for payments covered by the pair’s 2011, $9 billion definitive agreements should kick in. It had taken NBN Co to the NSW Supreme Court in late 2013, arguing that the CPI, which is refreshed each year in January, should apply for payments effective from January 1 2012, given that the NBN Co contract was signed in 2011.
The Department of Defence has raised concerns that a critical radar system could interfere with planned deployments of NBN Co’s fixed wireless network. The concerns were raised in a brief response by Defence to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which has been directed by the Government to make 75 MHz of spectrum in the 3.4 GHz and 3.5 GHz bands available to NBN Co.
NBN Co has earmarked a further 550,000 premises across Australia where work is to be started by September 2016. It brings the targeted number of premises where work will commence by September next year to more than 3 million, as outlined last year in NBN Co’s 18-month construction plan. At its most recent financial results briefing, NBN Co had over 748,000 serviceable premises, with an average weekly run rate of 10,200.
NBN Co today announced the commercial launch of its fibre-to-the-basement technology, with 2000 premises across Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne set to receive the first connections. More than one million premises are slated to receive FTTB technology, with 44 retail service providers now able to sell services on FTTB, the company said. Around 2000 premises in apartment blocks across NSW, Victoria and the ACT are ready for service today.
The federal government is seeking to remove any perceived or actual advantage to Telstra as a result of the information it receives from NBN Co on the network rollout. Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has asked the ACCC to consult with industry on a proposed carrier license condition for NBN Co which would govern the way it provides rollout information to Telstra and retail service providers (RSPs).
NBN Co will allow users to choose the type of technology to be rolled out to their home or community, for a price. The company’s new ‘technology choice policy, released today and first spotted by NBN watcher Jxeeno, will allow either individual customers, communities or local governments to opt against a rollout technology designated by NBN Co. NBN Co first indicated plans to release such a ‘fibre-on-demand’ product – allowing home and business owners to purchase fibre-to-the-premise – late last year, but declined at the time to comment on cost.
The price of mobile, broadband and fixed-line voice services is continuing to decline in Australia, while the cost of plans for the national broadband network increases, the competition regulator has revealed. In its annual telecommunications report for 2013-14, published today, the ACCC reported that prices for telco services fell by almost 3 percent over the past year, with the exception of the NBN. The fall represented the largest decline in costs for telco services since 2010-11, the ACCC said.
NBN Co has ordered all retail service providers on the interim satellite service to enforce a 50GB four-week usage threshold for customers to combat ongoing congestion on the service. In communications sent to RSPs late last month, sighted by iTnews, NBN Co warned any customer who breaches the 50GB limit during any four-week period will have their speed slowed to 128Kbps for two weeks from when they first exceeded the limit.
RMIT senior research fellow Dr Ian McShane expects Australia to experience a resurgence in community-based telecommunications as the ambitions of the national broadband network are gradually scaled back. McShane and his RMIT colleagues are 12 months into a multi-year study on the rollout of public wi-fi in Australia and its policy and economic implications, funded by a grant from the Australian Research Council.