NBN Co strikes back against TPG

NBN Co has announced it will target apartment blocks and offices in CBD's in a "commercial response" to companies like TPG planning large-scale network rollouts to those areas.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

NBN Co has fired a shot across the bow of TPG with new plans to speed up its rollout of fibre to inner city buildings across Australia in response to TPG's fibre to the building plans for 500,000 apartments.

Apartments and offices in Haymarket in Sydney, Newfarm and Fortitude Valley in Brisbane, and South Melbourne will be the first to get upgraded under the plans fast-tracked by NBN Co today.

The services in those areas are expected to be up and running by the middle of this year, in direct response to TPG's plans to provide fibre to the building project to 500,000 premises across metropolitan locations in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Perth.

NBN Co said today that the rollout to inner-city premises will be run in parallel to rolling out the network to under-served areas in Australia.

NBN Co will roll out fibre to the premises in those areas initially targeted by the company, and construction crews are expected to be available to build the network based on the construction lines NBN Co has put in place since the Strategic Review.

NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow said today that the company was reacting to concern that TPG and others might require building owners to sign agreements locking those commercial providers in as the only supplier of broadband services to a building. He said that NBN Co would offer a better deal to consumers.

"The NBN levels the playing field for Australian telecommunications and creates real and vibrant competition. We can make this statement because the NBN doesn't sell directly to consumers and is open to all retail service providers to use on equal terms," he said in a statement.

"Vertically-integrated carriers — companies that both own networks and market to consumers — cannot offer those same guarantees. A building that signs up to TPG runs the risk of being left with only one retail service provider – TPG itself.

"We believe NBN represents the superior solution for building owners and the families and businesses they house. There are 44 retail service providers operating over the NBN, representing more than 90 per cent of the retail broadband market."

NBN Co chairman Ziggy Switkowski has previously flagged that NBN Co would have a "commercial response" to TPG's proposal, and the government is considering closing a loophole in the existing anti-cherrypicking legislation that has allowed TPG to expand its network.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that it is unclear whether TPG's actions are even exempt under the Act, and has said that the Michael Vertigan panel conducting a cost-benefit analysis into broadband will address the concerns of NBN Co.

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