NBN to offer TV connection for new premises

In a bid to compete with rival fibre providers, NBN is planning to help new houses install TV services over fibre.

Now having to charge to install fibre into new housing developments, NBN is planning on offering free-to-air TV services over the fibre.

In May, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that NBN would be required to charge developers hundreds of dollars per premises for installing fibre to new housing developments for a service that had previously been offered for free.

The move was designed to appease commercial fibre providers who had long complained that they were struggling to compete with the government-owned company offering the service for free.

In the latest product road map released by NBN on Wednesday, the company revealed that from the beginning of 2016, NBN will be offering "RF over glass" to deliver free-to-air services through the fibre.

NBN's chief customer officer John Simon said the product is one that developers had been asking for, and would allow NBN to roll out fibre to not just lots with over 200 premises, but also lots with fewer than 200 premises.

"Developers are very keen for us to participate there, but what we also know is we're building all these nice new premises, the last thing they want is aerials being planted on these new premises, whether they're single-dwelling units or multi-dwelling units," he told ZDNet.

"This really is just a product extension. It allows a developer who takes our service to also deliver a hub where they pick up the radio frequency from the free-to-air broadcaster and transmits it over fibre so they don't have to install aerials; they would still organise any content deal.

"It's a relatively simple change, and I think very welcomed by developers."

Also changed in the new product road map is a delay in launch for the hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) cable product from March 2016 to Q2 2016.

"To the extent we can bring it in earlier we will, but I think this is just a considered approach," Simon said.

The company has not committed to a specific month in Q2 as of yet. Simon said that the product may be ready by the end of March, but the company didn't want to take chances on when it would be ready for retailers to order.

Until that time, NBN will conduct end-user trials and construction trials for HFC.

The timeline for the launch of fibre-to-the-node services remains on track for the end of September, and the commercial launch of satellite services is set for early 2016.

Simon said that the AU$11 billion deal with Telstra going unconditional last week, while allowing NBN to ramp up construction efforts, did not change the product road map.

"We did work on the basis that come the middle of this year, those approvals would come through. We haven't been waiting and doing nothing. We did develop expecting these deals to come through," he said.

"So far, the timings of all them are working within the parameters we allowed. I'm sure there will be things that will come up as we tackle the next 12 months."

NBN is still waiting for approval for the revised deal to take over ownership of Optus' HFC network.