NBN Co open to buying iiNet's FttN network

NBN Co may consider buying iiNet's fibre-to-the-node network in Canberra, as part of the revised NBN rollout.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

NBN Co may follow up its purchase of iiNet's fibre-to-the-premises network in Canberra with the purchase of the company's fibre-to-the-node network if it is deemed suitable for the new multi-technology model, according to NBN Co's chief operating officer Greg Adcock.

iiNet sold TransACT's fibre network covering around 8,500 premises in the nation's capital to NBN Co in 2013 for AU$9 million, and at the time, then-CEO of iiNet Michael Malone said he was open to selling off the company's FttN network, which has recently been upgraded to VDSL2.

"If there is a change of government in September, I think our fibre to the node infrastructure in Canberra in particular is of particular interest," he said at the time.

"There's 130,000 households that are presently getting, I'd say 80Mbps. I'd hope that the assets we have in the other locations, we could cut a deal with NBN Co. There's no point in overbuilding us."

At the time, the Labor government's policy was solely for fibre to the premises, and the purchase of TransACT's fibre network was to avoid duplication. Now with a Coalition government in place, and an overhauled NBN Co tasked to pursue Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull's vision of a multi-technology mix NBN that includes FttN, the company may look to avoid duplicating other networks consisting of other technologies, including fibre to the node.

Speaking before the NBN Senate Select Committee in Canberra today, Adcock indicated that NBN Co may look to purchase existing networks, including specifically the TransACT network, as part of the revised rollout.

"There is an amount of planning going on at the moment based on the selection criteria around the multi-technology mix at which point in time, once an optimum technology deployment for a particular area is recommended we'd have a look at the existing assets of all carriers and make a commercial call on whether it would be best to acquire existing assets or not," he said.

He said that much of what NBN Co decided to acquire would ultimately depend on the renegotiations with Telstra for access to its copper network assets for a fibre to the node network.

He said that subject to the Telstra deal, NBN Co wouldn't be limited to just buying fibre networks, and would potentially consider other network technologies depending on what the company believed was best suited to a particular location.

"The latitude that has been given to NBN Co under the current policy is to explore what is the most cost effective way to deliver high speed broadband to all Australians," he said.

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