The nation's second-largest telco Optus has again stated it is still considering whether to provide retail fibre-to-the-home services over the Tasmanian leg of the fledgling National Broadband Network (NBN), despite its biggest rival Telstra joining the party.
Yesterday, Telstra revealed plans to hold a three-month free trial of fibre services in Tasmania. The telco will sign up to 100 customers and won't charge them for the duration of the trial, which will last from October to the end of the year.
Telstra's participation brings the number of broadband providers using the Tasmanian NBN to five, with most of Australia's other major ISPs — iiNet, Primus, Internode and Exetel — also involved. But Optus has not yet gotten its feet wet.
"We're continuing to evaluate offering retail services over the Tasmanian NBN," a spokesperson for the SingTel subsidiary said via email yesterday. "We remain very supportive of the NBN and it is our intention to be a major customer of the network as it is rolled out in the future."
Another major ISP not to have yet signed up to the NBN in Tasmania is TPG Telecom.
Optus did, however, provide a hint of where its intentions regarding the NBN may lie in a financial results presentation yesterday, noting that it saw opportunity for growth in regional areas, where the NBN will be rolled out first following Labor's deal with independent MPs Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor.
NBN Co has not yet outlined what the consequences of the regional roll-out will be for its schedule, although some sections of the industry, notably, NBN critic and Pipe Networks co-founder Bevan Slattery, expect the regional focus to change NBN Co's focus to wireless solutions in the near term.
So far, NBN Tasmania has laid more than 200km of optic fibre around Tasmania, employing over 200 people during the project to do so. Hundreds of service orders have been received by local customers to date, and over half of residents in the target towns of Midway Point, Smithton and Scottsdale have signed up for the NBN.