Tassie fibre broadband back on track

A project testing fibre to the home (FTTH) broadband technology in Tasmania is finally close to connecting trial customers, after suffering delays in the last 21 months since it was first announced. Dubbed the Tasmanian Collaborative Optical Leading Testbed (TasCOLT), the trial is a partnership between government and industry that will see broadband at speeds of up to 100Mbps provided to 1,000 business and residential addresses in Hobart.

A project testing fibre to the home (FTTH) broadband technology in Tasmania is finally close to connecting trial customers, after suffering delays in the last 21 months since it was first announced.

Dubbed the Tasmanian Collaborative Optical Leading Testbed (TasCOLT), the trial is a partnership between government and industry that will see broadband at speeds of up to 100Mbps provided to 1,000 business and residential addresses in Hobart.

"TasCOLT is currently in the middle of the network deployment and this will be completed by December/January," the managing director of local FTTH specialist CEOS Jonathan Spring told ZDNet Australia by e-mail today. The company is leading the TasCOLT consortium.

"Trial customers will be connected in November/December and the project is gathering a great momentum," Spring added.

TasCOLT's Web site currently states construction would kick off in the suburb of New Town, followed by South Hobart and then Devonport.

The project's progression has been slower than expected, with the state's then-Minister for Economic Development, Lara Giddings, claiming in September 2005 that the trial would commence offering services in late November that year.

However in June, Giddings' successor, Bryan Green, was forced to admit to organisational delays. To ensure there were no further delays, the state government at that time added an additional AU$350,000 to the government's existing investment of AU$3 million in the trial.

"The project has been slightly delayed due to the lack of familiarity that exists in the Australian industry with Corning Cable System's third-generation optical fibre cable product," Green said in a statement on June 27.

Noting the technology had never before been deployed outside the United States, Green said an education process had been necessary among prospective contractors for the construction of the network.

"Also, planning approvals, which included the environmental impact study to support the project, took a bit longer than expected," he said.

The imminent arrival of the TasCOLT project is just one of several ongoing FTTH deployments going on around the nation, for example in new developments such as Fern Bay near Newcastle in NSW, and Melbourne's Epping North suburb.

Bright Telecommunications also has a FTTH network passing some 30,000 homes in Perth.