NBN to trial council-subsidised fibre

NBN to trial council-subsidised fibre

Summary: The National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) will allow communities in Tasmania to fund a "network extension process" in a trial that would see NBN fibre delivered to areas outside the 93 per cent footprint of the fibre component of the network.

TOPICS: NBN, Broadband

The National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) will allow communities in Tasmania to fund a "network extension process" in a trial that would see NBN fibre delivered to areas outside the 93 per cent footprint of the fibre component of the network.

At a Parliamentary inquiry in Sydney this morning, NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley revealed that the seven sites in Tasmania — at which NBN Co announced yesterday Conneq would start construction in May — will be part of the trial where councils outside the 93 per cent could opt to pay to have fibre installed.

"We are going to be trialling what we call a network extension process. That is, if an individual or a group of people say 'look we're not inside the fibre footprint but we would like to get the fibre anyway, what is the process for doing that?' and we have had approaches from some councils that have said 'we are prepared to fund the difference'," Quigley said.

The executive warned, however, that the costs for fibre connection outside the 93 per cent footprint are "very expensive", and went in to bat for the wireless and satellite services that will cover the remaining 7 per cent of the population.

"These are radically improved services from what people are getting today," he said. "People in the bush ... will get services that are at least equivalent to what they can get in the cities on ADSL2+ today."

Quigley stated today that NBN Co is restricted by engineering limitations from reaching every community, but said that it is unlikely that regional towns near NBN fibre backhaul will miss out.

"If there's 1000 or more premises then we will fibre it; if a town is on one of the backhaul routes and it has more than 500 premises we will fibre it," he said.

At a similar inquiry held in Brisbane earlier this month, the government's own Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee expressed disappointment that the fibre is only being rolled out to 93 per cent of premises.

The committee said that a pay-for-connection process had been discussed, but that it had concerns over whether communities that funded the fibre extension will own that fibre, or whether NBN Co would retain ownership.

When asked about whether NBN Co will own the fibre for the extension, NBN Co told ZDNet Australia today that as the communities are only paying the difference in the cost to install fibre compared to the cost for installing fibre to the rest of Australia, the ownership will remain with NBN Co.

Topics: NBN, Broadband


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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  • Makes sense. This plan is a step in the right direction.
    Hubert Cumberdale
  • The 1st step in user pays,just like paying to have the electricity network extended to your property boundary,then they resume the assest,you pay a connection fee & a monthly access fee to access the infrastrucure you paid for and they now own.
    talk about being scre*** twice,every month , something like a cake and eat it scenario to me
    • 1. They pay the difference, not the total cost
      2. They don't pay for operational and maintenance costs.
      3. Presumably they're only paying part of the installation costs, not for the actual fibre or line equipment. So your argument about owning the infrastructure falls flat there too.
      4. Hmmm, i paid for Optus to connect me to their HFC and pay-tv network. Are you saying I therefore own the infrastructure and shouldn't have been paying access fees?
    • FIBRE TO 100% .. ERRRR ... ~96% OF AUSTRALIA!!!!!! (it's getting closer though ... surely you must approve and yes, i'm just guessing the 96 part)
      • my arguement doesn't fall over I've had this exact situation with having power to a property I have,1.5km extention and then 500m across my property.was going to cost about $100k to have 240v connected, stand alone solar came in at $50k,guess which way i went?
        • 100k does seem a bit steep for digging some trenches and laying some cables. Perhaps because of the distance they would have had to install extra line equipment to mitigate attenuation? But my questions in relation to your argument are:
          a) What sort of mark up do you think the electricity company is applying to the actual cost of extending 240v to you?
          b) Do you think the majority of the cost is line equipment on your property or labour getting it to there? If it's the latter how do you really justify arguing that you own the infrastructure?
  • 100% on cost is average,a trans former was to be placed on the last pole near my house.All cabling was to areaial,not underground.
    That section nearest my house that I paid for,( if you buy a car do you own it, or does the govt because you use their rd's ?),also i pay to extend a network and some one else extends it to connect,so the peice i extend makes it possible for them to supply futher out, should i not be compensated for their newly acquired ability to supply others over what i paid for.
    Happy to for my consumption
    • Utilities should be providing extension services for cost or not much more. But that's a side issue.

      The fact is you want to access a utility grid while living outside it's universal service obligation boundary. You can argue that the taxpayer should foot the bill but in that case they're paying 100k to subsidise a single individual .. it doesn't seem right.

      Regarding your argument about "the newly acquired ability to supply others" I guess that's the whole root of what defines the USO boundary. In the case of an urban environment where the taxpayer or company foots the bill for connecting people the revenue from the volume of customers and bulk connection labour offsets the cost. The reason they didn't connect you in the first place was because that scenario wasn't in place and it would be exhorbitantly expensive. It seems mostly reasonable to me. It's not like you didn't buy the property not understanding that you would be responsible for connecting to utilities.

      However I do see your point that someone could build a house on the neighbouring plot of land to yours and pay a much smaller fee to connect to the grid because the extension was already there, paid for by you. It seems a bit unfair. I'm not sure what the way around that would be .. for one thing you can't know in advance if anyone would do that, or when.