TPG defeats NBN in court fight over FttB power

TPG has won a fight against the government-owned company formerly known as NBN Co over the use of power plugs in its fibre-to-the-basement rollout.

TPG is allowed to use power supplies in buildings where it installs equipment for its fibre-to-the-basement (FttB) broadband network, the New South Wales Supreme Court has ruled.

TPG is rolling out fibre to the building to approximately 500,000 premises in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane in direct competition with the National Broadband Network (NBN). NBN isn't taking it lying down, however, promising a "commercial response" that will see the company aggressively target the lucrative markets picked by TPG.

NBN also took TPG to court in November last year, claiming that TPG subsidiary Pipe Networks was engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by claiming to apartment building owners and strata that under Schedule 3 of the Telecommunications Act, it had the right to power its telecommunications equipment installed in the buildings and to use the power without the consent of the building owner or occupier.

The New South Wales Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that the Act does authorise Pipe to install telecommunications equipment, including accessing the power supply of the premises, without the consent of the owner or occupier.

TPG welcomed the ruling.

"We are very pleased to have been successful in these proceedings," said Tony Moffatt, TPG's General Counsel, in a statement.

"Carrier rights have been in place since competition was introduced to the telecommunications market and were designed to place all competitive carriers in an equal position. This judgment is important for the industry, and confirms that TPG, NBN, and all other carriers have an equal entitlement to install and operate equipment in buildings, including by using electricity."

A spokesperson for NBN said the company welcomes the clarification from the court.

"That clarification is that the Telecommunications Act empowers carriers to plug their equipment into a power source on the property of a land owner without consent and draw power to operate that equipment. While we are still considering the impacts of the judgment, our initial view is that this decision will help the rollout of the nbn network [sic] over the coming years."

Costs have yet to be decided by the court, pending submissions from NBN and TPG.

Last week, NBN revealed that it had spent AU$700,000 to drop the "Co" from its name as part of a rebrand effort to spark renewed interest in the NBN rollout since its move to the multi-technology mix.

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