Back to the future: Tasmania's power pole plan to save FttP NBN

Back to the future: Tasmania's power pole plan to save FttP NBN

Summary: Tasmania is hoping to resurrect an old plan to use Aurora Energy's power pole infrastructure to deliver the fibre-to-the-premises NBN to ensure that the state does not get fibre to the node instead.


Jumping on the uncertainty of the future of the Tasmanian National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout, Tasmanian Labor Premier Lara Giddings has asked Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Prime Minister Tony Abbott to consider using Aurora Energy's power poles.

As the Australian government and Visionstream argue over whether to complete the fibre-to-the-premises National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout going in Tasmania at the current price, Giddings has sought to resurrect an old plan to use Aurora Energy's infrastructure, put forward by the state in the early stages of the NBN rollout in 2009.

Aurora Energy was originally going to come on as a joint-venture partner in a separate Tasmanian NBN company, but this plan was abandoned when the federal government decided to push ahead with its plans to use Telstra's pit and duct infrastructure instead.

Following the change of government, and a potential shift to fibre to the node, the plan appears to be back on the table. Giddings confirmed to ZDNet on Wednesday a report that appeared in The Australian stating that she had met with Turnbull and Abbott about using Aurora's power poles to deliver the NBN aerially rather than in the ground in order to cut costs.

"I have asked Aurora to prepare a brief on using its existing power pole network to deliver optic fibre, which we will provide to the Australian government. This technique has the potential to ensure that the NBN can continue to be rolled out in a cheaper and more efficient way," Giddings said in a statement given to ZDNet.

"I have raised this idea in my meetings with both the Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and they have been open to receiving a proposal.

"This has the potential to be a win-win for all of us, allowing the Coalition to honour its pre-election pledge, reducing rollout costs for NBN Co and its contractors and ensuring that Tasmania continues to realise the benefits of having super-fast broadband delivered to the door."

ZDNet understands that the Tasmanian government has not yet indicated to Turnbull how much cheaper the cost of the rollout could potentially be under the proposal.

Under the current NBN design put in place by the former government, approximately 25 percent of the entire NBN fibre network is set to be delivered to existing premises via the use of power poles. Most recently, NBN Co invoked powers granted in the Telecommunications Act to get access to Ausgrid's power poles in New South Wales after commercial negotiations over access to the poles had failed.

Topics: NBN, Government, Government AU, Australia


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Power pole nbn

    About time this has been raised. I live in a suburb in Hobart that Aurora rolled fibre to most of the houses several years ago, and I have a fibre cable attached to my house, but it's not connected to anything - at the time they hobbled it to 1.5mbps, it was better to stick with adsl.

    Wouldn't make sense for nbn to take over the fibre in our area?
  • Negatiations with Austgrid

    Those negotations took 18 long months before NBN Co *finally* just invoked it power to use the poles and pay a small amount of competition.

    Too many LNP saboteurs within and without NBN Co plus Telstra are why the rollout was some weeks behind.
  • Power Pole NBN

    Even though Aurora made record financial results I heard a lot of the contract guys are being let go because of cost cutting measures. Evidently Lara now wants to influence Aurora to retain these workers. So I guess it is a WIN for employment and a WIN for the NBN if she succeeds with the plan.
  • HHmm

    Is this not a possible solution for all of Australia? It will undoubtedly be heaps cheaper to do, and although I already hate what happens in thunderstorms/cars crashing in to poles I'm so desperate for Malcolm not to give up on fibre to the premises I would certainly compromise.