Optus announces state-based wholesale NBN access, HFC product

Optus' wholesale HFC product is now available following a successful commercial trial, and Optus is also now offering state-based access to NBN's 121 POIs through AGVCs in eight datacentres.

Optus Wholesale has announced that it has implemented aggregated virtual circuits (AGVCs) in several datacentre locations across the country, allowing it to expand its wholesale National Broadband Network (NBN) offering by providing state-based aggregation models, as well as announcing the launch of wholesale access to NBN's hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network.

The AGVCs now present within eight commercial datacentres in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth can connect providers to all 121 points of interconnect (POIs), reducing latency by connecting them with their nearest datacentre.

The telecommunications provider also announced that it is planning on providing connectivity through AGVCs in an additional datacentre in Adelaide.

"Optus' wholesale NBN offering provides Optus Wholesale customers with cost-effective access via a single or multiple aggregation points around the country over our Carrier Ethernet network," Optus Wholesale head of Marketing and Strategy John Castro said on Tuesday.

"This means wholesale customers can realise improved efficiencies, and offer lower latency for end customers, for example a WA-based wholesale end user will experience better latency from a WA-based datacentre, rather than one previously based in Sydney due to the datacentre's proximity to the end customer."

Optus said its datacentre POI offerings will be provided through NBN retail service provider (RSP) Grex Group.

Optus also announced on Tuesday that its commercial pilot for HFC services was successful, and that it will now be offering wholesale access to this NBN network technology.

NBN's HFC network will provide connectivity to between 21 to 27 percent of the population, according to its 2017 Corporate Plan, significantly down from the 34 percent earmarked in the original plan, with the government announcing that it would be replacing the HFC network it bought from Optus for AU$800 million with fibre to the distribution point (FttDP).

The news of replacing the Optus HFC footprint followed a leaked NBN draft in November 2015, which revealed that Optus' HFC network was "not fully fit for purpose". The entirety of Optus' HFC footprint, apart from the already activated 18,800 premises in Redcliffe, is hence being moved to FttDP.

Optus began offering its wholesale residential NBN product through all 121 POIs in July last year, at the time also signing a deal to provide wholesale access to SpinTel's residential broadband customers.

Optus provides Layer 2 wholesale aggregation to the 121 POIs, along with access technologies available from NBN, allowing smaller service providers to provide NBN services across Australia without having to build out their own infrastructure.

Optus Wholesale argued last year that the emergence of the NBN will revitalise the wholesale broadband industry by bringing with it the principles of ubiquity, simplicity, and creating a level playing field.

"There is a change agent: It is NBN," Castro said in July.

"It has always promised to shake things up, it promised that when it was first announced in 2007, it's just taken longer to get here than we all had hoped. That's not a slight on NBN, that's not a political statement, not a reflection on anyone at NBN, our colleagues there on their ability to roll out networks, or what the multi-technology mix may have done to their original rollout plans. It's just a simple realisation that until last year, until 2015, NBN was something of a sideshow."

The NBN was not part of the mainstream discussion until it began permanently outpacing retail and wholesale legacy copper customer access networks in 2015, Castro said.

"[NBN] is a change towards ubiquity by definition -- most obviously, that's what NBN will bring to the Australian fixed wholesale market," he explained.

"It is a change towards simplicity; the days of multiple access networks -- one for your on-net services, one for your off-net services, one for your business services, one for your residential services -- are gone. The NBN will simplify all of our businesses as it moves us all to one access interconnection providing access to the entire nation and subject to any quality of service or SLA that the end user may require.

"It is also, finally, a change towards a level playing field. Those non-contestable revenues I talked about ... will disappear, and the NBN complete will level the economic playing field that the rest of us wholesale participants are subject to. Optus welcomes its arrival."

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