NBN Co to rent Telstra copper for fibre-to-the-node trial

NBN Co has confirmed that it will rent Telstra's copper lines as part of a trial of fibre-to-the-node technology.

NBN Co chief operations officer Greg Adcock has said that NBN Co will likely rent copper lines from Telstra as the company trials fibre to the node ahead of a wider rollout of the technology.

In NBN Co's first half-year results meeting held in Sydney today, the company revealed that there would be a fibre-to-the-node pilot in Umina, near Woy Woy, on the New South Wales central coast, and in Epping in Melbourne's north. For the pilot, NBN Co will build two small-scaled copper serving area modules with kerbside nodes connecting to spare copper pairs in a Telstra pillar.

Each trial site will serve up to 100 premises as part of the trial, NBN Co said.

To get access to the copper, NBN Co is negotiating a separate agreement outside of the existing AU$11 billion Telstra agreement to lease the copper lines from Telstra until the existing agreement with the telco can be renegotiated. NBN Co executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski said it is important that the whole deal be renegotiated, rather than just negotiated in parts, such as only access to the copper network, or use of the cable network.

"At this stage, there feels like there are a lot of interlinked issues. We are not designing the negotiations to compartmentalise that."

Adcock said that the aim for the trial would be to get higher speeds on fibre to the node than what was projected in the strategic review.

"Clearly, we would want to better than 50Mbps."

NBN Co will also be conducting a fibre-to-the-basement trial in office blocks and apartment complexes in Carlton, Brunswick, and Parkville in Melbourne. NBN Co chief technology officer Greg McLaren said the trial involves 10 buildings and five internet service providers. iiNet told ZDNet earlier this week that it has 15 customers taking part in the trial.

In NBN Co's half-year results for the six months to the end of December 2013, it reported a 63 percent increase in revenue to AU$47.8 million, with telecommunications revenue up fourfold. NBN Co reported an operating loss of AU$715 million for the half, with capital expenditure up AU$396 million for the half to AU$1.19 billion.

Average revenue per user for the half was AU$36.50

NBN Co ended the year passing 4,500 premises by fibre per week on average. Adcock said that at the end of this year, NBN Co will be passing 6,000 premises per week. Switkowski rejected suggestions that the fibre rollout is slowing down.

"We go as hard and as fast as we can until such time as we need to talk about it," he said.