Apartment dwellers to get FTTP by July as NBN Co fights TPG

Apartment dwellers to get FTTP by July as NBN Co fights TPG

Summary: NBN Co will begin rolling fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) services to "key" inner-city apartment buildings by mid-year as it brings forward its multi-dwelling unit strategy in an effort to fight competition from upstart TPG Telecom.


NBN Co will offer fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) services to residents of multi dwelling units (MDUs) in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane by July as the company fast-tracks an "accelerated rollout" to fend off the competitive threat from rival TPG Telecom, company executives have confirmed.

Chief operating officer Greg Adcock, speaking during testimony to the Senate Select Committee on the NBN, confirmed that the company is "bringing forward our offer of high speed broadband to those MDUs in areas that have been identified as a competitive threat" because TPG had or was expecting to roll out a competing fibre-to-the-basement (FTTB) offering in those buildings before NBN Co would normally have done.

NBN Co identified competitive threat from TPG: Morrow. Image: NBN Co

"We have taken steps to be able to accelerate service in those areas," NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow, who joined the company last month and testified alongside Adcock, told the committee.

“There is a potential problem to the model behind the NBN if we have this large-scale, material change of cherry pickers. We feel it is in the taxpayer's interest, and in the interest of NBN Co, to offer a competitive response."

The company had already been talking with building owners in key geographies to gauge their interest in an NBN Co FTTB service – which Adcock confirmed is not expected to be ready until October at the earliest.

Given TPG's rapid recent push to deliver its own FTTB service, NBN Co had brought forward its own efforts and would now use existing products to secure contracts with bodies corporate in what Morrow termed “key buildings” across Australia's largest city areas.

"The most cost-effective way to deploy in MDUs is through FTTB," Adcock explained, "but there is a competitive issue at the moment.”

“The response was to go to the geographies that have been identified and speak to various building owners, and offer the product that we have available to them at the moment."

Since NBN Co's FTTB product won't be available until October and the accelerated rollout would see NBN Co delivering live services to MDUs by the end of June, those MDUs connected by NBN Co would receive FTTP services in the interim.

“The product – the only product – that we have available today is fibre to the premise and that will be the product which we are offering.”

That product, Morrow confirmed, would be FTTP. "The trial of FTTB is still ongoing and we don't have a publicly available FTTB product," he said.

“The product – the only product – that we have available today is fibre to the premise and that will be the product which we are offering.”

Last September, TPG announced that it would undertake an ambitious FTTB rollout that would exploit a loophole in anti cherry picking legislation to run fibre connections directly to MDUs in Australia's most profitable areas.

It began live trials of the technology in March, offering services to customers in Pyrmont, Ultimo and the Sydney CBD; Southbank, Docklands and the Melbourne CBD; and Fortitude Valley and the Brisbane CBD.

The move directly challenged the financial viability of the government's multi technology mix (MTM) model for the NBN. Two weeks later, communications minister Malcolm Turnbull issued a revised statement of expectations (SoE) that enabled NBN Co to begin planning to offer FTTB and other types of broadband services.

Adcock and Morrow sought to dispel suggestions that NBN Co was specifically targeting the buildings where TPG had already rolled out its FTTB service. “We are not trying to identify where TPG is,” Adcock said.

“FTTB was the plan for a lot of these already, but they had a different date than what TPG was actually targeting,” Morrow addded. “We have been told by customers – the building owners, and RSPs – that they like the fact that we are doing this.”

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Fiber, Government AU, Telcos, Australia


Australia’s first-world economy relies on first-rate IT and telecommunications innovation. David Braue, an award-winning IT journalist and former Macworld editor, covers its challenges, successes and lessons learned as it uses ICT to assert its leadership in the developing Asia-Pacific region – and strengthen its reputation on the world stage.

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  • Time to up the ante TPG!

    It seems TPG has hit on the answer to get the network we actually need for the future.

    It's time to up the ante TPG, and offer FTTP where MalCo are only offering FTTN!
  • NBN has alway been anti-competitive

    The fact that the NBN needed anti-competition legislation, demonstrates just how flawed the whole premise is.

    Let's call it as it is. The NBN is yet another type of welfare, let's face it Australia is a welfare state.

    If the NBN was a commercially viable solution that could be delivered at a reasonable cost, in a reasonable time frame, they would fear competition. Since it's not, the first sign of competition and they have to run scurrying for a new strategy.
    • correction

      Should read: "they wouldn't fear competition"
    • you are wrong

      Sure, if you want cherry picking, then go for it. Anyone not living in a densely populated city center are just leeches anyway. Let's ignore that fact that a ubiquitous network will improve the economy for Australia all round (not just in direct profit) and let's ignore peoples right to a functioning telecommunications network. While we are at it, lets just maintain the drinking water, sewerage, roads, hospitals etc for the densely populated areas. If they were worthwhile to do elsewhere, private business would have sorted it.

      Cross subsidising makes perfect sense, and despite what some people seem to think, competition in a natural monopoly (ie infrastructure) RARELY benefits the consumer. By having an even play ground the competition on the RETAIL level would be much more fair and beneficial for everyone.

      That said, current solution makes no sense anyway. FTTN is a huge waste based on ideology, anyone in the IT industry who has followed the NBN development would tell you the same. Had they followed the FTTP plan as they should have, this would have been a non issue. Just because Labor mucked up the execution doesn't change the fact that the design is far superior and economical and the only path worth following.

      Also can't help noticing that they are now prioritising areas already getting served with FTTB despite all the political games about how underserved areas needs to be done first. Just another hypocritical stance amongst hundred others on this topic I suppose.
  • Nothing but highly optimistic spin

    "Apartment dwellers to get FTTP by July" and NBN Co will begin rolling out FTTP services to "key" inner-city apartment buildings by mid-year are miles and miles apart.

    Making a statement like this is just spin and tactics. Why not make a realistic statement like

    "NBN Co will start the rollout process FTTP to one inner-city apartment by mid year. They will finish the roll-out sometime in the future, maybe by 2015. When they finish, Mr Turnbull will announce that this has been a major success and everybody should just now shutup, they may roll out another one."

    I don't believe any of this but since the year is not mentioned, you be talking about Mid Year 2016?

    I hope TPG dominate and kill the market for NBN
  • This field is required

    Chasing tails again.

    Wrong solution to a problem that shouldn't have existed in the first place.
  • Fibre to the "premise"

    Seriously where do we get these people...
  • FttP for all not just Apartment dwellers in CDD's

    Fibre to the Premises is the only way for the future for all & not just a few. NBN Co should expedite FttP to all area's already planned before doing FttP to apartments. Furthermore all Greenfield sites should be completed before the CBD Apartrments. Fibre for all is our entitlement.
    • Age of Entitlement is over

      It's really not helpful to any argument - this 'entitlement' idea does not fly - why are country people not 'entitled' to FttP, because it costs too much.
      Why is anyone 'entitled' to it ?
      NBN should this and that - please - NBN should have been doing 'this and that' for several years now and really it's made very little progress.
  • Progress.......

    So, because FTTB isn't ready early customers will have to make do with FTTP. Who will want the new product when its available?
  • Don't believe a word of it

    More spin from Morrow - First it was October, now it's June in the space of few weeks, next it will be April.
    Morrow 'fixed' Vodafone, I know how that's working out - not at all. All spin and fud on the run.
    NBN hadn't spoken to our building in Pyrmont of 200 people earlier in the week, I wait to find out when they get round to it.
  • Nice to have Tax $ to fund you

    Gosh - nice to have tax $ behind you to beat up the private sector who were there first. The only cherry pickers are NBN Co. Maybe Tony could rather trim those $ ?