NBN Co fibre-on-demand product due this month

By the end of March, NBN Co will launch its fibre co-contribution and fibre-on-demand products, Senator Mitch Fifield has said.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

NBN Co will this month begin offering residents not living in designated fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout areas other avenues and products to receive FttP, Australian Senator Mitch Fifield has said.

"NBN Co expects to launch its co-contribution product in calendar Q1, 2015," Fifield said. "NBN Co expects to launch its fibre-on-demand product in calendar Q1, 2015."

Answering questions put on notice as the minister representing the minister for communications, Fifield said that funding arrangements for communities looking to contribute towards an FttP rollout would be known when the "Technology Choice" policy is publicly announced, also due sometime in the first quarter of this year.

Fifield confirmed that the FttP architecture currently used within the NBN would also be deployed for any on-demand product, and would not be connected via a fibre-to-the-node cabinet.

"Fibre on demand for individual premises will be delivered via a multiport spliced from the distribution fibre path at the same location of the node cabinet," he said. "The installation of an OLT [optical line terminal] will be required in the FAN [fibre access node] site to facilitate the FttP services.

"The number of individual premises switch subscribers that can be delivered from each node location is dependent on the amount of available distribution fibre allocated to that location."

The idea of a user-paid, fibre-on-demand scheme has been supported by the current Australian government for some time. In February 2013, then-Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull backed the idea and highlighted BT's similar rollout in the UK.

"I don't see why you wouldn't do that. If you can offer fibre on demand, and the reason you've got that is you've got in these modern [full service access networks], you've got ports that are capable of supporting GPON and VDSL," Turnbull said.

"And so if you've got a customer that wants fibre for whatever reason, then there's no reason, technically, why you shouldn't make it available."

However, in the time since Turnbull made those comments, BT Openreach increased its prices for an on-demand connection by up to £2,625 (AU$5,158). In its January 2014 price increase, Openreach said it would begin charging £300 (AU$590) for a fibre upgrade for a premises that is less than 200 metres from the node, right up to £6,125 (AU$12,037) for a premises close to 2km from the node.

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