NBN Co prepares to switch off copper network

NBN Co will start the 18-month transition period to switch off the copper access network, in 15 of the 18 initial roll-out sites for the National Broadband Network, in November.

NBN Co's head of product management, Jim Hassell, announced this morning that NBN Co will begin the process of decommissioning Telstra's copper access network in 15 of the 18 National Broadband Network (NBN) roll-out sites from November 23.

Hassell told the CommsDay Summit in Melbourne today that the education campaign for residents in those locations will begin in November, before the switch off of the copper network in May 2014. Residents will be advised of the switch-off and made aware that they will be required to either migrate to the NBN's fibre services for broadband and voice, or just switch to mobile voice and broadband.

NBN Co and the government negotiated with the incumbent fixed line provider Telstra to decommission its legacy copper network in a deal worth AU$11 billion .

Approximately 25,000 premises will be the first to be disconnected from Telstra's legacy copper network in Armidale (four sites), Brunswick, Deloraine, George Town, Kiama, Kingston, South Morang, St Helens, Townsville, Triabunna, and Willunga.

The three first release sites in Tasmania (Midway Point, Smithton, and Scottsdale) will not be part of this initial switch-off period. NBN Co told ZDNet that this network is still technically separate from rest of the NBN network, and it will need to be connected to the point of interconnect in Launceston before it can decommission the copper network in those areas. In addition to that, NBN Co will need to finish upgrading all on-premise network equipment to the national standard before the switchover occurs.

A number of existing business lines will also be retained in the interim, NBN Co indicated.

The average take-up rate in those first release sites is currently 15 percent, however, NBN Co said that it is as high as 44 percent in some of those locations. As the copper network is switched off, the take-up rate is expected to greatly increase, however NBN Co said that it could not project what rates it is expecting to get in these first locations.

Across the board, and as of September, NBN Co has 24,000 active services across fibre, fixed-wireless, and satellite. Of the fibre customers, Hassell said that 44 percent were on 100 megabits per second (Mbps) down and 40 Mbps up service; 32 percent were on 25 Mbps down/5 Mbps up service ; 15 percent were on the basic 12 Mbps down/1Mbps up service; 7 percent were on the 50Mbps down/20 Mbps up service; and 2 percent were on a 25 Mbps down/10 Mbps up.

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