Telstra, NBN showdown over Tassie devices

Telstra, NBN showdown over Tassie devices

Summary: Telstra will not offer commercial services on the National Broadband Network (NBN) in Tasmania until NBN Co upgrades the network-terminating devices (NTDs) in all premises to be the same as those available on the mainland, but NBN Co is not too worried.


Telstra will not offer commercial services on the National Broadband Network (NBN) in Tasmania until NBN Co upgrades the network-terminating devices (NTDs) in all premises to be the same as those available on the mainland, but NBN Co is not too worried.


(Credit: NBN Co)

Tasmania was the first state in Australia to receive the NBN roll-out. As such, it was treated as a pilot site for the $35.9 billion network, as NBN Co tried to work out the best technology and construction methods for the national roll-out. Installed in each of the Tasmanian premises in the initial stage of the roll-out was an NEC Ethernet network-termination unit (NTU) with a maximum download speed limited to 100 megabits per second (Mbps), while NBN Co plans to offer speeds of 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) in the future.

NBN Co has since been using Alcatel-Lucent interfaces in premises in the mainland roll-out sites, which can support 1Gbps download speeds.

According to the government, the NEC units for the 4000 Tasmanian residents in the first three roll-out sites will be "progressively migrated" to the Alcatel equipment, but, until then, Telstra has said that it will withhold offering commercial services in Tasmania until that has been completed.

"Telstra needs to wait until the technology in Tasmania is upgraded, and the NBN systems and processes that support serving our customers provide the same levels of service to all customers, no matter where they live," Telstra told ZDNet Australia.

Telstra said it doesn't want to commence commercial services in the Apple Isle while the migration is underway.

"Telstra is concerned that this migration would result in customers experiencing unnecessary disruption to their services.

"The conversion of the technology to national NBN standard is a matter for the Tasmanian Government and NBN Co, and we hope it will be possible to provide Telstra services on the NBN to customers in Tasmania later this year."

But NBN Co said that Telstra has never raised this as a problem with the company, and that none of the other service providers in Tasmania — Primus, iiNet, Internode, Exetel and Aurora — have said that this is an issue.

"The infrastructure used and the type of equipment in the home makes no difference to a company's ability to provide commercial services over the NBN in Tasmania. People in the old sites with the old equipment, and people in the new sites with the new equipment will receive the same packages and same speeds," NBN Co said. The company added that if Telstra isn't willing to offer commercial services, then there are other choices for consumers in the state.

"The good news for people in these communities is that they don't need to wait for Telstra before receiving the benefits of superfast broadband. There are plenty of choices from plenty of other internet service providers that are offering very competitive NBN-enabled services right now."

NBN Co plans to commence a project by the end of the year to replace the NEC units, and, in a Senate Estimates hearing late last night, NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley said that NBN Co will wear the cost for replacing these units.

Telstra is currently offering trial services around the country, including Tasmania, but it has yet to sign a wholesale broadband agreement with NBN Co, and, as a result, has not announced pricing for NBN commercial services. It is expected that pricing will be announced when the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) approves Telstra's structural separation undertaking (SSU) and the $11 billion deal with NBN Co.

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Telcos, Telstra


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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  • Talk about the bride bartering at the altar! I know that Telstra has some pretty flinty negotiators, but this is getting ridiculous.

    The real question is: what does Telstra expect to get in exchange for dropping this absurd requirement? Just to be clear, it's absurd because NBN Co is not planning to offer 1Gbps wholesale services this year. They could, but there are some other technical as well as marketing reasons why not. They want the market to settle down around the 100Mbps peak speed before adding the super-rich gigabit dessert to the menu.

    Oh, and I imagine that some of the RSPs would not be able to handle gigabit services en masse, just yet. They will soon enough, but there are sound reasons for choosing a safe, manageable speed for launch before supercharging the network.

    So why is Telstra throwing up this objection now? What little concession are they hoping to wring? And why are they willing to let the market go to their competitors while they sit on their hands?
  • Well as Telstra stakeholders have said to their wholesale customers for years... "if you don't like it, why don't you invest in your own"...

    What do they say about leopards and spots and also chooks and roosting!
  • Perhaps Telstra is trying to play the long game here, by seeking to utilise the demonstrated ignorance of the opposition about NBN issues.

    If the government changes at the next election, the incoming mob may decide to go back to the future by handing over control of the national network to Telstra, which would ensure continuation of the monopolistic legal and regulatory gaming that has held back our comms scene for at least twenty years.
    • Exactly their plan according to Citigroup.

      Split Telstra into Network Co and Service Co, give them the NBN already built. Gift them further taxpayer/non refundable subsidies and wash their hands of Australia's comms.

      Then of course they add, but it doesn't have to be Telstra it could be any company. Which means any company who own an Australia wide PSTN (for their 40% FTTN plan to succeed) with ADSL2+ capacity, and of course HFC networks.

      Hmmm, don't know of too many who can fulfil all of this such criteria
  • I find it very hard to stomach hearing Telstra state that NBN must "provide the same levels of service to all customers, no matter where they live".

    Telstra have never applied such a requirement to their own network.

    I am currently stuck on a Telstra CMUX (Zone 3 regional) which only provides ADSL1 with 8Mbps of shared backhaul! I have even offered to cover their costs to upgrade their backhaul, and they told me it was never going to happen!
  • Sadly one of the reasons the Minister has given for foisting this NBN Co on us is to provide elverage over Telstra and get thme to behave. So far he has gifted them with taxpower money to provide preferential treatment to NBN Co and granted them exemptions to the so called cherry legislation. Maybe his next act should be to amend his open network legislation and also require RSP's to provide servcies on a network where standard are acceptable.
    • He could totally submit like your hero Mal and gift Telstra the entire network... again!
  • NBN co has 4000 users in Tas? I suspect Telstra do not see much money to be made, so put in a few delaying tactics and leave the rest to fight over the bones.
    Knowledge Expert
    • Lo and behold I agree Doubt, nicely surmised.
  • Its not an NBN with the speed stuck at 100megs, Telstra already delivers that speed on its cable3.0 mainland network. Why should Telstra and Tasmania agree to a restricted NBN network at the same price as the 1gig speeds on the mainland when it will only operate at a tenth the speed. I suspect Telstra also doesn't want the hassle of dealing with NEC equipment which has miniscule market share compared to Alcatel. NBN is already providing a patchwork quilt of end user equipment which is not a great start, particularly as it bottlenecks the speed at the customer premise. Whoever the daft muppet was in NBN that wasted our taxpayers money on 4,000 obsolete network units should be fired.
    • You think 100Mbps is slow, despite Australia, and specifically Tasmania having nowhere near the backbone and transnational infrastructure required to actually support any real use of that kind of speed? The Seocho district of Seoul in South Korea boasts the highest average internet connection speed on the globe with an average connection speed of 33.5Mbps... I can definitely see Tassie suffering by only having 100Mbps capable infrastructure for the one year until NBN Co. replace the units, even though most of the country won't have any connection to the NBN for many years yet...........................

      Are you sure you even live on Earth?