NBN Co sneaks out gigabit speeds

NBN Co sneaks out gigabit speeds

Summary: NBN Co is now offering gigabit services to its retail customers, but never announced to the public that the service is now available.


NBN Co delivered on its promise of making 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) download speed services available on the National Broadband Network (NBN) fibre network before the end of 2013, but the company did not announce the availability of the service until questioned about it by a Senate Select committee.

The 1Gbps down, 400Mbps up service sells at a wholesale price of AU$150 per month, excluding the connectivity virtual circuit capacity charge. NBN Co executive chairman Dr Ziggy Switkowski revealed that NBN Co had met its April promise to have the plans in the market by the end of 2013. He said the services were made available to retail service providers this week, but that he had not made any announcement to the public.

"I'm not aware that we've made an announcement. We're not expecting to be bowled over," Switkowski said.

The connectivity circuit charge will likely lead to a higher cost for the service per month than the basic AU$150 per month. NBN Co has been waiving the fee charged to ISPs for the first 150Mbps of capacity required at each point of interconnect.

ZDNet has asked a number of ISPs whether they plan on offering 1Gbps services in the near future. Optus has said that it has no plans to launch 1Gbps plans in the market. Telstra also said it had no current plans for 1Gbps services.

iiNet's chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby said iiNet had no launch date but was looking to offer a range of services including 120Mbps down, 10Mbps up; 250Mbps down, 50Mbps up; and 500Mbps down, 200Mbps up.

"We have no launch date for an iiNet Gigabit service but we expect demand for a range of services using the Gig port, from our business customers if NBN Co get the CVC pricing right," he said.

NBN Co will also not guarantee that end users will receive the full 1Gbps service at their premises, with Switkowski stating this morning that speed guarantees are only for the retailers, and not the end-user premises.

In response to hours of questioning from committee chair and former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy on the decision to write down a forecast brownfields target for June 2014 from 450,000 premises down to at least 357,000 premises, Switkowski fired back, stating that the former minister's vision for 93 percent of premises to be passed by fibre was not realistic.

"The reality is that trying to get to 93 percent of the population in a reasonable time was always a really big stretch," he said.

"At the end of this year, the fibre rollout will have passed 260,000 fibre premises. We have 1 million out of 13 million passed by the end of 2014; 1 million of the remaining are meant to be in the satellite and fixed footprint. That still leaves 11 million premises to be passed.

"[Over] 10 years, that's 1.1 million premises passed per year. That's 100,000 premises per month. How is that going to happen from where we are today?"

It is not possible to meet a run rate that high, he said.

"It's not going to happen. It was never going to happen."

Despite his pessimism, the executive chairman said he hopes to return to the committee early in the new year, and report that more premises could be passed by fibre by the end of June. He said that much of this will depend on NBN Co negotiating with some of the existing construction partners where he believes the relationship has been damaged.

Topic: NBN


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.

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  • They don't want you to have it

    Those who were trained for the priesthood, and not trained in IT, may think that technology like Gigabit optical fiber could only be used for immoral purposes, like downloading rude pictures and videos.

    They also don't want you to get access to a technology that would destroy Rupert Murdoch's Fox cable network. People may stop using that walled-garden cable network, and instead watch streaming video from thousands of other program producers who would be able to transmit via the Gigabit NBN optical cable.

    So, Gigabit cable? No, you can't have it!
    • The Golden Goose

      is SPORT
      NBN permits active competition for sporting rights in the future.
      SKY Sports channels could lose their monopoly, thus decreasing Foxtels competitive advantage
      Abel Adamski
  • Dog's breakfast....

    Ziggy's too busy driving Australia's telecommunications to ground like he does at Kodak, "There's no real need for digital cameras". Now he's saying there's no real need for 100Mbps in Australia.

    He's trying to sell a dog's breakfast NBN version, why should he make the public aware that the ALP's NBN version can offer Gbps now, and the dog's version won't be able to offer gigabits until after 2030???
    Salami Chujillo
  • Sounds like the coalition clowns have it all figured out, I mean when your obsolete patchwork plan is already looking pathetically slow compared to the real NBN this early on you wouldn't want to take any chances by making even faster speeds known. Expect GimpCo to obstruct as much as possible here so Turnbull and his zoo crew chums can have a chance to say "See faster speeds are not needed, FttN and copper is great, we've had theses speeds available on fibre for a year now and there is virtually no take up at all" sometime in the future... Only 1109 days to go!
    Hubert Cumberdale
    • Dack the bastards

      Time for a fresh election in coalition held seats only.
  • Ah, the defeatism

    This comment from Ziggy is just gold - "The reality is that trying to get to 93 percent of the population in a reasonable time was always a really big stretch," he said.

    Ah, so rolling out fibre is hard, so let's make up a bunch of assumptions to make it look unaffordable so we can just throw billions of dollars on an inferior, more expensive (over the long run when you take into account maintenance, lower revenues and future upgrades) but slightly easier to roll out technology.

    The whole hearing today was a joke. The arguments from the new board (Mal's mates) were weak and did not stand up to scrutiny.
  • Outlaw potical parties which fail to give us FTTP.

    Religious political parties like the LNP which don't allow people to have access to gigabit broadband FTTP should be outlawed.

    tHE cost of this 21st century infrastructure is irrelevant.
  • Worthy Praise

    They can't possibly announce this as it is a triumph of the old/real NBN before the puppet master got involved.
    Luke Warm
  • Good summary of the Senate hearing at Delimeter


    Here’s the Hansard. It’s a long read…

    Abel Adamski
  • Gigabit fibre was "sneaked out"?

    The number of activated NBN services has risen 39.4% in the 100 days since the election, according to the new weekly metrics published by NBNCo to Mr Turnbull's revised definitions. a few thousand extra activated services per week, and across all three technologies, fibre, wireless and interim satellite.

    The fact is that the FTTN plan cannot be initiated, merely piloted, until at least late 2014, more likely 2015, when the VDSL technologies are due to be commercialised by their manufacturers, and after contracts have been renegotiated with Telstra and Optus and approved by the ACCC.

    Consequently, NBNCo continues its programmed work on the NBN for the next 12-18 months, according to Mr T. more than once in recent weeks.

    The programmed work included swapping 2.5 Gbps GPONs for 10 Gbps ones - where feasible, and where demand had been established - which are capable of sustaining gigabit services for those in the 28-ish downstream premises connected to that GPON.

    It's all in the program. Nothing sneaky about it, unlike the sneaky abandonment of the coalition's core promise that every premises would have 25 Mbps delivered by 2016 for $29 billion.