Telstra will not offer commercial services on the National Broadband Network (NBN) in Tasmania until NBN Co upgrades the network-terminating devices (NTDs) in all premises to be the same as those available on the mainland, but NBN Co is not too worried.
An NBN NTU
(Credit: NBN Co)
Tasmania was the first state in Australia to receive the NBN roll-out. As such, it was treated as a pilot site for the $35.9 billion network, as NBN Co tried to work out the best technology and construction methods for the national roll-out. Installed in each of the Tasmanian premises in the initial stage of the roll-out was an NEC Ethernet network-termination unit (NTU) with a maximum download speed limited to 100 megabits per second (Mbps), while NBN Co plans to offer speeds of 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) in the future.
NBN Co has since been using Alcatel-Lucent interfaces in premises in the mainland roll-out sites, which can support 1Gbps download speeds.
According to the government, the NEC units for the 4000 Tasmanian residents in the first three roll-out sites will be "progressively migrated" to the Alcatel equipment, but, until then, Telstra has said that it will withhold offering commercial services in Tasmania until that has been completed.
"Telstra needs to wait until the technology in Tasmania is upgraded, and the NBN systems and processes that support serving our customers provide the same levels of service to all customers, no matter where they live," Telstra told ZDNet Australia.
Telstra said it doesn't want to commence commercial services in the Apple Isle while the migration is underway.
"Telstra is concerned that this migration would result in customers experiencing unnecessary disruption to their services.
"The conversion of the technology to national NBN standard is a matter for the Tasmanian Government and NBN Co, and we hope it will be possible to provide Telstra services on the NBN to customers in Tasmania later this year."
But NBN Co said that Telstra has never raised this as a problem with the company, and that none of the other service providers in Tasmania — Primus, iiNet, Internode, Exetel and Aurora — have said that this is an issue.
"The infrastructure used and the type of equipment in the home makes no difference to a company's ability to provide commercial services over the NBN in Tasmania. People in the old sites with the old equipment, and people in the new sites with the new equipment will receive the same packages and same speeds," NBN Co said. The company added that if Telstra isn't willing to offer commercial services, then there are other choices for consumers in the state.
"The good news for people in these communities is that they don't need to wait for Telstra before receiving the benefits of superfast broadband. There are plenty of choices from plenty of other internet service providers that are offering very competitive NBN-enabled services right now."
NBN Co plans to commence a project by the end of the year to replace the NEC units, and, in a Senate Estimates hearing late last night, NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley said that NBN Co will wear the cost for replacing these units.
Telstra is currently offering trial services around the country, including Tasmania, but it has yet to sign a wholesale broadband agreement with NBN Co, and, as a result, has not announced pricing for NBN commercial services. It is expected that pricing will be announced when the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) approves Telstra's structural separation undertaking (SSU) and the $11 billion deal with NBN Co.