Optus Wholesale reaches NBN deal with BTB Australia

Optus Wholesale has announced a new NBN deal with BTB Australia to onsell services to an energy company, with Optus also announcing a funding partnership with Huawei to improve regional coverage.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Optus Wholesale has announced that it will resell National Broadband Network (NBN) services to BTB Australia, which will onsell this to energy company WINconnect, allowing the latter to offer NBN services to its retail customers.

"This relationship ... highlights the support existing NBN resellers or potential resellers can access to enter the NBN market without building a telecommunications business from scratch," Optus Wholesale Sales and Marketing VP John Castro explained.

"WINconnect will be able to offer their energy services in addition to NBN. Delivering these essential home services bundled together is a great way to add value for customers and delivering services they need without them having to engage with multiple suppliers."

Via its Optus partnership, BTB now offers a white-label service including NBN access, technical support, network design, customer service, billing, and debt collection.

Optus in June announced that it would be offering Ethernet over NBN (EoNBN) to its wholesale customers, to be used in bandwidth-intensive Layer 2 and 3 use cases including setting up private VPNs, internet access, WANs, and improving access to cloud services.

"This new technology means Optus Wholesale can deliver wholesale partners enterprise grade data services over the NBN network [sic] in addition to our existing fibre and copper networks to deliver more reach and flexibility," Castro said at the time.

"There is an increasing appetite to deliver more business and enterprise products across the NBN."

Optus Wholesale is additionally looking to produce an "Evolve Voice" product to be delivered via EoNBN.

Optus began offering its wholesale residential NBN product through all 121 points of interconnect (POIs) in July last year, at the time also signing a deal to provide wholesale access to SpinTel's residential broadband customers.

In January 2o17, Optus Wholesale then expanded its wholesale NBN offering by providing state-based aggregation models, as well as by the launch of wholesale access to NBN's hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network.

Optus provides Layer 2 wholesale aggregation to the 121 POIs, along with access technologies available from NBN, allowing smaller service providers to provide NBN services across Australia without having to build out their own infrastructure.

Optus Wholesale argued last year that the emergence of the NBN will revitalise the wholesale broadband industry by bringing with it the principles of ubiquity, simplicity, and creating a level playing field.

Optus also relies on its consumer NBN offering, last week crediting its positive quarterly financial results partially to growth in its NBN subscribers.

During the quarter to June 30, Optus reported increasing its NBN customer numbers by 105 percent year on year, from 136,000 in Q1 2016 to 279,000 in Q1 2017.

"Australia Consumer reported an increase in operating revenue of 6 percent in the first quarter ended 30 June 2017. The increase was driven by higher mobile and NBN revenues," Optus said.

"In mass-market fixed, operating revenue grew 13 percent mainly on higher NBN revenue driven by NBN customer growth of 143,000 from a year ago."

Optus reported a total net profit of AU$171 million, slightly down from the AU$173 million reported for the same quarter last year, on revenue of AU$2.1 billion, up 4.8 percent from AU$1.999 billion.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) were AU$662 million, up 2.6 percent from AU$645 million.

Optus begins AU$1b investment in regional network

Optus has also revealed one of the first projects under the additional AU$1 billion being invested into its mobile network across regional Australia, with the telco announcing that it will build a new mobile tower in Cadia District, New South Wales.

The tower will be built thanks to a funding partnership between Optus and Chinese networking giant Huawei, along with AU$200,000 from Newcrest Mining's Cadia Valley Operations and AU$15,000 from Infigen Energy, to improve mobile coverage in the area.

The Cadia District does not have any mobile towers currently, with Optus now looking into where to place the base station, which is expected to be operational by the end of next year.

Manager of Network Planning Vin Mullins said Optus' goal is to ensure all regions in Australia have access to reliable mobile reception.

"Cadia Valley ... will move from having intermittent coverage in some areas to having a dedicated resource to provide residents and visitors with reliable and fast coverage for mobile calls and SMS as well as mobile data for internet browsing," Mullins said.

"The contribution and commitment by Newcrest Mining and all parties involved provide a clear demonstration of what can be achieved when community and enterprise work together."

The mobile tower will be built in addition to a site to be constructed in the region under the federal government's mobile blackspots program, under round two of which Optus will be building 114 new mobile sites -- 49 small cells and 65 base stations -- and investing AU$36.4 million.

Optus switched on its first blackspot, a small cell in William Creek, South Australia, in March.

Optus had announced that it would be investing AU$1.5 billion in improving its mobile coverage across Australia -- attributing this to the government's decision not to declare wholesale domestic mobile roaming -- and last month said it will spend AU$1 billion to build 500 new mobile sites and upgrade 1,800 sites to 4G in regional areas by the end of June 2018.

As of June 30, Optus' 4G network reached 96.4 percent of the population, after investing AU$1.5 billion during the 2016-17 financial year on deploying 4.5G services, small cells, and voice over Wi-Fi.

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