Turnbull flags trial NBN nodes for 1,000 premises

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said NBN Co and Telstra are planning a wider trial of fibre to the node technology that will cover up to 1,000 premises.

NBN Co is remaining tight-lipped about a trial for 1,000 premises to be connected to the National Broadband Network via fibre to the node, despite Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull letting details slip last night.

As part of the shift to the multi-technology mix model proposed by the new Coalition government, NBN Co  first announced  its fibre-to-the-node pilot in February, with the company planning on accessing Telstra's spare copper pairs in Umina in New South Wales, and Epping in Victoria, serving up to 100 premises each in a trial that was set to commence at the start of May, and run until the end of October.

Last week it was confirmed that the trial had yet to start, with NBN Co only signing an agreement with Telstra to access the copper in Umina, while NBN Co was still negotiating access to power supplies for the nodes in Epping.

Despite the trial being over a month behind, Turnbull talked down the delay in an interview on ABC's 7:30 program last night, insisting that it would get under way soon, with a larger deal on the way.

"There are trial sites, there's 11 nodes set up on Umina on the Central Coast and we are finalising the discussions with Telstra to do a big thousand-node trial and which will then roll into the full fibre-to-the-node rollout. So things are moving along very well," he said.

ZDNet sought additional information on the extended trial from NBN Co, however the company declined to comment further.

"I'm not going to speculate about trials," a spokesperson for NBN Co said.

"But it's certainly no secret that FttN will help bring high speed broadband to families and businesses sooner and at less cost to the taxpayer."

Turnbull was also asked to explain why he had said that the renegotiations with Telstra to access its copper and hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) networks for the so-called multi-technology mix model for the NBN were likely to miss their June target. Turnbull said his original statement was a "forecast" rather than a promise, and the negotiations were going well.

"It is very far advanced and it's going very well and the discussions are proceeding very well. But what's really exciting is that the rollout, which has been chaotic, is now starting to stabilise," he said.

"Well I expect we will finalise the commercial terms in the near future and I talk about the middle of the year. But, look, let me just say this: this is a forecast, it's moving along very well, but I don't want to be held to a particular date. You can imagine both parties want to get it wrapped up."