NBN Co to count on TransACT fibre for quick win

NBN Co, under Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, will soon count existing premises passed by the TransACT fibre network as 'premises passed', without requiring any additional construction work.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

NBN Co's December low forecast for 357,000 existing premises passed by the National Broadband Network (NBN) fibre now includes TransACT premises that were excluded from previous forecasts under the Labor government.

Commercial-in-confidence documents issued to NBN Co's retail customers — and obtained by ZDNet — reveal that 7,800 of the 8,500 premises connected to the TransACT fibre network will be added to the NBN in March through iiNet's AU$9 million deal made with NBN Co prior to the election.

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Image: Screenshot by Josh Taylor/ZDNet

The premises were not previously included in NBN Co's targets made before the change of government and the overhaul of NBN Co's board and management, ZDNet understands. The document states that "a substantial number" of the premises will be classed as "service class 0", meaning they will be unable to order a service until NBN Co can integrate those premises into the NBN.

ZDNet's earlier analysis of NBN Co's forecast revision made as part of the strategic review revealed that NBN Co is easily on target to reach the 357,000 premises passed by June. As of February 9, NBN Co passed 300,660 existing premises with the fibre network, with 207,334 premises able to order a service. NBN Co confirmed to ZDNet that the TransACT premises are included in the 357,000 premises passed target for June this year.

The revelation suggests NBN Co will need to undertake even less construction in order to meet its June target. NBN Co has said that construction of the fibre network will continue until the end of 2014, but including the initial 7,800 premises, NBN Co will only need to pass 48,540 additional premises between now and the end of June to meet its target. NBN Co has indicated that construction will ramp up in the next few months, and NBN Co is passing approximately 5,000 premises per week on current trends.

ZDNet understands that although NBN Co only revised its rollout target in December, a new target for the end of June will be included in NBN Co's new corporate plan due to government by June.

As part of iiNet's deal with NBN Co, TransACT will complete the construction of the fibre-to-the-premises network in Canberra to another 4,500 premises.

NBN Co also revealed in the document that TransACT's TV network running on the fibre network will be shut down when NBN Co takes over the network.

"We will be providing the same NBN Co standard products to premises in the current TransACT footprint as are available for all other areas within the NBN fibre footprint. TransACT currently provides an RF TV overlay service which will cease when a premises is migrated to the NBN network," NBN Co said.

TransACT also has a fibre-to-the-node network in the nation's capital that was not part of the original deal.

A second commercial-in-confidence document obtained by ZDNet also revealed NBN Co has made significant ground on servicing multi-dwelling units where the company has historically found it difficult to connect via fibre. The company has begun deploying multiple network terminating devices (NTDs) in the Stockland Shopping Centre in Townsville to allow a number of retail shops in the mall to connect to the NBN.

A third document also announced to retailers that there is an AU$50 bonus per new customer migrated onto the NBN fibre network in fibre serving areas in Coffs Harbour, South Morang, and Toowoomba.

It comes as NBN Co is due to have its first ever half-year results briefing with journalists on Friday.

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