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

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.


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