NBN Co's multi-technolgy mix products set for 2015

NBN Co's updated product road map released today outlines plans to introduce fibre-to-the-basement and fibre-to-the-node commercial products in 2015.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

The first commercial products to be part of the new so-called multi-technology mix model for the National Broadband Network (NBN) are set to go live in the first quarter of calendar year 2015.

The announcement by NBN Co came in its updated product road map for October released to retail service providers today. In the first quarter of next year, NBN Co's commercial product for fibre to the basement will go live after the completion of tests and pilots in Melbourne.

The commercial product for fibre to the node (FttN) will not go live until the third quarter of 2015, however, according to the document. NBN Co's chief customer officer John Simon told ZDNet that the extra time for the FttN product is reflective of the time needed to complete the 1,000-node trial in New South Wales and Queensland, and time to finish renegotiating with Telstra over access to the copper lines required for fibre to the node.

"That sits in behind the construction trial we're doing for 1,000 nodes, and timed to complete the Telstra deal and get the government approvals and all that sorted. We think we've allowed for that, and that makes sense," he said.

"What we're building in fibre to the basement is the core nucleus that expands into fibre to the node."

In response to public and retail service provider concern around NBN Co offering the higher 100Mbps speed tiers on FttN where the network can't achieve those speeds, NBN Co is also planning on providing a "service qualification" to customers in order to assess the exact speed they can achieve.

"We know that for some technologies, as you go to the higher-speed tiers, there might be some caveats on that. We'll have to service qualify you and provide a confirmation that service can be delivered," Simon said.

"We want to make sure they can get it, and we'll produce a birth certificate."

He said this isn't required for fibre to the basement, because the copper length was much shorter than what was used in fibre to the node.

"You don't have to do that for fibre to the basement. You can safely bet that if someone is on a 50-metre or 100-metre piece of copper, they're going to get 90+ megabits. That's what our trial has shown," he said.

There are now 40 end users on the Umina fibre-to-the-node trial, Simon said, adding that NBN Co has also overcome power issues in the Epping, Victoria, fibre-to-the-node trial, and additional construction is now taking place in the area, with customers due to come on in the coming months.

Next year will also see the customers in regional and rural Australia able to take up services on NBN Co's two long-term satellites. The two satellites will be launched mid year, and products will come online in the last quarter of the year. Simon said that NBN Co needs two to three months to fine tune the satellites before customers will be able to get on to them.

"For people that have been out in regional Australia ... this will be the first time they can get a service that is a genuine speed," he said.

This month will see NBN Co consult with industry on its fibre-on-demand product, for customers who are outside the fibre-to-the-premises footprint who can opt to fund the cost for laying fibre to their premises.

The company is also in the final stages of developing a product to allow mobile companies to use NBN Co's fibre for their mobile towers, after concluding a trial with Vodafone, which was first revealed by ZDNet.

In November, the company will also begin industry consultation on the potential business services that can utilise the multi-technology mix.

NBN Co will also release new pricing in the first quarter of 2015, which, Simon said, would be a response to industry consultation around the controversial AU$20 per 1Mbps capacity charge.

In late 2015, NBN Co would also commence migration from the temporary points of interconnect (POI) that the company had to initially roll out to build up the network ahead of the construction of 121 POI as mandated by the ACCC.

Simon said the migration would happen over 2016, and would allow wholesale aggregators to sell to smaller ISPs that don't have the scale to reach all 121 POIs.

"The consequence of that is it does open up the market for wholesale aggregators who want to provide a service to tier 3 RSPs who can't always have the deep enough pockets to connect to all of the POIs," he said.

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