TPG begins live trials of fibre to the basement

TPG begins live trials of fibre to the basement

Summary: While the Australian government decides the fate of NBN competition, TPG is already building its fibre to the basement network and has live trial customers.


As Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull's cost-benefit analysis panel mulls options to close a loophole in telecommunications network legislation that is allowing TPG to build out its fibre-to-the-building (FttB) network in metropolitan locations across Australia, the company has announced it is already conducting live trials with customers.

TPG announced the plans in September last year, to deliver FttB services to 500,000 units across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth, which would place it in direct competition with the government's National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout.

TPG told investors today that the rollout was "progressing", with construction already underway in Pyrmont, Ultimo, and the Sydney CBD in New South Wales; Southbank, Docklands, and Melbourne CBD in Victoria; and Fortitude Valley and Brisbane CBD in Queensland.

TPG also noted it has live customers testing out the service. TPG declined to comment further on the trial.

TPG also announced its NBN plans, starting at AU$59.99 per month for unlimited data on a 12Mbps down, 1Mbps up service. Including installation and delivery, the first month's charge is at AU$189.94.

For a 100Mbps unlimited data service, customers can expect to pay AU$89.99 per month, and AU$219.94 in the first month.

The proposal is exploiting a loophole in NBN legislation that was implemented to prevent companies from rolling out new high speed networks in places where it is cheap to do so, and therefore be able to undercut the NBN's pricing model, which evenly distributes the cost of services between metropolitan and regional Australia. TPG is believed to be using a loophole that allows it to use its existing fibre assets without actually expanding the existing network.

The government has indicated it is considering closing this loophole, but will wait for the completion of the Michael Vertigan cost-benefit analysis report due to be handed to the government mid-year.

In a submission to the Vertigan panel, TPG said that its plans will bring a speedy and positive outcome for users, and would not prevent NBN Co from rolling out its own network in those locations and competing against TPG.

"In the case of the TPG FttB build, TPG anticipates reaching a potential 500,000 premises. Many of those premises will be entrenched HFC customers, due to their requirement for Foxtel Television. Of the remaining addressable market, TPG might reasonably only expect to be successful in securing a percentage of the customers," TPG said.

NBN Co has said that the move potentially undermines NBN Co's business model where TPG could woo low-cost, high-use customers in metropolitan areas, while NBN Co picks up only the customers in uncompetitive areas of regional Australia where population size is lower, and cost to deploy is significantly higher.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has said, however, that infrastructure-based competition benefits consumers.

"Where it is economically efficient, infrastructure-based competition is likely to promote the long-term interests of end users. Where efficient network duplication can occur, competition between networks can drive dynamic efficiencies in terms of product differentiation, innovation, and timely investment," the ACCC said.

It comes as the Vertigan panel last night released a second discussion paper (PDF) outlining proposed changes to fixed line access regimes, and NBN legislation, including calling for a review of the law requiring NBN Co to only operate on layer 2 of the OSI stack, and whether it would be more efficient to replace the legislation with oversight from either the ACCC or the minister to ensure NBN Co doesn't creep into other layers in providing services to its customers.

Topics: NBN, Government, Government AU, Telcos, TPG


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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  • The end

    of any hope of a reasonable National Broadband infrastructure. The Vic Government is wating it's advertising to encourage business's and business people into rural Vic is dead in the water.

    Actually don’t forget the other providers such as M.T’s close friends at Opticomm who also do Business/Industrial parks and Shopping Centres and some business premises. Obviously they will have Fibre serving them which can be extended, and they are not the only ones.

    The Land Rush of the old Wild west is on.

    Infrastructure competition in premises is technically not viqable, accountants and ideological fanatics do not understand this, they will have to learn the hard way

    However I and I hope everyone else stands up and refuses to permit taxpayer subsidies of any form to support the unprofitable and rural areas.
    THE LNP will have to come up with some solution that does not involve fleecing the taxpayer for eternity
    Abel Adamski
  • its still All about PowerTel

    I don't know why journalist aren't question where the hell TPG got access to 50,000 customers without rolling out an inch of fibre?

    It was through AAPT and the fact that PowerTel through conduits leased from an exclusive deal with EA and other conduit owners, allowed them to provision NTU's in the basement of all CBD and out CBD dwellings.

    Its not like TPG even had a product that would them to sell via NTU in a basement.

    However TPG aren't just looking for a percentage of 50,000 customers.

    They're planning to sell it, just like the HFC and other NBN competing services are going to be, to the government. With Turnbull signalling to the market that coalition will accept any dogs breakfast piece of crap fibre to the X solution and will pay handsomely the rush is on.