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NBN rollout lets iiNet recycle network gear

As the NBN reaches certain parts of Australia, it will allow iiNet to move its legacy ADSL equipment to non-NBN areas to get the most out of it.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

As the National Broadband Network (NBN) rolls out around Australia, it will make redundant existing telecommunications infrastructure such as DSLAMs, which is used to provide broadband services today. iiNet is squeezing more out of the life of its DSLAMs by planning an exchange program between Telstra exchanges.

As part of its deal with NBN Co, Telstra will begin moving customers off its copper access network onto the NBN. This migration will occur across the 10-year construction period, depending on when areas are finished. The technology deployed in each exchange will become obsolete as customers move onto the fibre network, but iiNet's chief business officer Greg Bader said that because of the staggered rollout, iiNet was looking at moving its redundant DSLAM equipment to other parts of the copper network where the NBN has yet to reach.

"Certainly we're looking at opportunities to start moving hardware around the country. The ideal example is with an NBN first release site; if we have 5,000 ports we don't need in that exchange anymore, we can pick those ports up and move them elsewhere," he said.

"The DSLAMs are quite modular, so where we can, we will reuse them for sure."

Bader said that one of the issues iiNet was encountering was determining which DSLAMs were no longer required because the fibre serving areas for the NBN often don't line up directly with the existing telephone exchanges.

"If we look at the NBN rollout, we will have some exchanges that lose 20 percent of their footprint in year one, but they continue operating in the other 80 percent for the next three years," he said.

This would be less of an issue in a fibre-to-the-node network, he said.

"It would probably be a lot cleaner in terms of which DSLAMs are switched from a traditional model to a fibre-to-the-node model."

Bader said that because of the NBN, iiNet had slowed its investment in new DSLAMs, but it hadn't stopped altogether.

"The last thing we want to do is put in a DSLAM, and then three months later, have to pull it out because everybody has moved across to NBN, [but] there is still business cases presenting themselves on a weekly basis on where to deploy infrastructure," he said.

"Certainly not at the rate we were previously, but primarily around capacity relief where exchanges are just growing fast."

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