The national roll-out of the Federal Government's National Broadband Network (NBN) is unlikely to use the same equipment that has been installed in the first portion of the network's build involving three Tasmanian suburbs, according to the chief executive Mike Quigley of NBN Co, the company charged with building it.
In a brief video interview, ZDNet Australia asked Quigley whether kit used for the first three sites — Scottsdale, Smithton and Midway Point — would need to be upgraded to be in line with equipment choices for the remaining roll-out.
"In any trial that you do — pre-release trial — you're obviously deploying equipment, and in fact even more importantly systems, that are not quite the same as what you're going to do in the mainland in a national roll-out," Quigley said.
"I shouldn't say just mainland, but also for the rest of the sites we'll be doing in Tasmania. But I also want to stress that these are really minor issues."
Asked whether this would mean equipment would need to be swapped out at a later date, Quigley said that such equipment would "be upgraded as speeds improve".
"There is always going to be an evolution of the consumer end, of the premise end, of the equipment. So obviously even in stuff that is rolled out, in a year's time or two years time, ultimately that will — as technology moves — that will be upgraded as speeds improve also. That's part of the plan. So yes, there will be an evolution of that type of technology over time."
NBN Co had said in an earlier statement that no replacement would be necessary.
"From the beginning the intention has been to integrate NBN Tas with the national network. As previously pointed out, all equipment complies to international ITU [International Telecommunication Union] standards and is interoperable, so no replacement is necessary when the sites in Tasmania are integrated to the standard NBN Co roll-out."
The "big issue" was around systems, according to Quigley. "That's always for a big telco ... the Achilles' Heel. So clearly we didn't have those fully-featured OSS and BSS systems for the pre-release trial in Tasmania. But all of the backhaul that we're doing, all of the fibre roll-out, that all stays exactly in place. It's just we're doing somewhat of a sort of manual activation as you would expect."
According to a statement from NBN Co, Tasmanian operations will be folded into the automated OSS/BSS at a later date. NBN Co had also said in an earlier statement to ZDNet Australia that any changes would have "little or no impact" on end users:
"NBN Tas currently has contracts in place for the first stage roll-out, but from the outset we have included planning for the subsequent integration of the early works into the national network. With the Hobart Mercury calling for more 'plain English' explanations of what the network will do and why people should access it, there hasn't been a need to get deeply into the technical and operational aspects of the network. These will have little or no impact on the services end-user customers see. The Tasmanian NBN network uses reliable network elements and systems which have been previously trialled in our proof-of-concept environment."