NBN Co's gaze returns to Telstra's South Brisbane fibre

The approximately 20,000 premises on Telstra's fibre network in South Brisbane could soon be on the NBN, with the two companies set to recommence negotiations in the first quarter of 2015.

NBN Co and Telstra will recommence negotiations that could see the government-owned entity buy out Telstra's South Brisbane fibre-to-the-premises network.

In 2011, Telstra moved to replace its copper network to around 20,000 homes in the South Brisbane area with fibre optic cable following an agreement with the Queensland government to close the South Brisbane exchange and sell the land to the government for a new hospital.

Telstra offers a wholesale product for the network, and has always been of the view that it may potentially sell the network to NBN Co once completed. The two companies began negotiations in 2011 over the potential sale of the network to NBN Co, but never reached a deal prior to the 2013 election.

However, despite the change in government and the subsequent move away from a full fibre-to-the-premises rollout, negotiations continued for NBN Co to purchase the network. According to a response to questions on notice provided to Greens communications spokesperson Scott Ludlam, the last round of negotiations was in early 2014.

"NBN Co most recently had negotiations with Telstra over South Brisbane in early 2014, and subsequently, the parties agreed to postpone negotiations over the acquisition of South Brisbane until after the revised deal is completed," minister representing the Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield said.

Now that negotiations between NBN Co and Telstra have been completed, Fifield said the negotiations would recommence this quarter.

"NBN Co is reviewing the commercial and policy merits of an agreement with Telstra on South Brisbane, and anticipates that discussions with Telstra may recommence in the first quarter of 2015."

In responses to questions from the last round of Senate Estimates hearings in November, NBN Co also revealed much of the detail of its fibre-to-the-node trials on the Central Coast of New South Wales.

For the 192-port, 1,000-node trial, NBN Co bears responsibility and cost for remediating Telstra's legacy copper network pillars. It costs AU$5,500 to remediate each pillar, and AU$3,500 to replace a pillar.

NBN Co also released, for the first time, a breakdown of individual download speeds achieved across some of the 53 connections in the Umina trial (PDF).

The trial reveals that download speeds on the service have been as low as 10Mbps, and as high as 108Mbps.

The averages across the data set provided show minimum download speeds of 85Mbps, maximum download speeds of 91Mbps, minimum upload speeds of 34Mbps, and maximum upload speeds of 37Mbps.

The company also provided a detailed run rate comparison for the metric of "premises passed" that had changed internally in the last year. Now NBN Co only declares a premises to be passed when 90 percent of the premises in a fibre-serving area module are declared "ready for service".

The change was made to make it easier for retailers to know when to advertise to a specific area that those customers can now order an NBN service.

This means that under the old metric, as of the end of last year, NBN Co would have passed around 611,407 premises, while under the new metric, it is significantly lower, at 469,111.