Telstra to pilot 1000 fibre nodes in Qld and NSW for the NBN, as it holds the golden keys to its copper network.
The deal with NBN Co. is said to be worth $150 million.
The telco will be responsible for the planning, design and construction of the Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) technology due to be integrated into the NBN, following the Liberals’ objection to Fibre to the Premises technology, advocated by the Labor government.
FTTN marries fibre optic cables with Telstra’s copper lines in a streetside node cabinet.
The pilot will last for around 12 months and is “no small beer,” an NBN Co. spokesperson told Smarthouse. It will cover around 206,000 premises.
However, this is still a construction trial not an end user one, and a national rollout depends on (you guessed it) Telstra agreeing to lets NBN Co use its copper network.
Talks between the two companies regarding the renegotiation of the Definitive Agreements, including access to Telstra’s copper to support FTTN services, are “progressing well,” NBN Co said in a statement.
Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull says the deal is an “interim step” towards final agreement with Telstra.
FTTN would cover 30% of homes covered by the national broadband network, or 3.66 million premises if rolled out, nationally.
NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow said the agreement will leverage Telstra’s design knowledge of its copper network.
The areas covered by the pilot include: Bribie Island, Warner and Caboolture in the Moreton Bay region; and Bundaberg and Gympie in the Wide Bay-Burnett region of Queensland.
(Pictured: Malcolm Turnbull a.k.a the Earl of Wentworth with his sidekick, Paul Fletcher MP)
In NSW, Belmont, Boolaroo, Morisset and Hamilton in the Hunter Region; and Gorokan on the Central Coast will get the fibre node treatment.
NBN Co will also expand its FTTN build pilot activity in Woy Woy on the Central Coast.
Morrow said the extensive pilot program “will deliver valuable insights into how to build a sustainable and consistent program of work that allows the industry to ramp up and deploy the FTTN element of the NBN at scale.”
“This is a progressive step in the evolution of the NBN. It shows we are determined to get on with the job of delivering fast and reliable broadband to Australians while wider negotiations with Telstra continue.”
NBN Co is also working with the telecommunications providers to develop an FTTN product set.
There is already FTTN sites in Umina in the Central Coast in NSW and Epping in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.
NBN Co plans to expand its FTTN build pilot activity in Umina. The cost of the trial activities will be funded from within NBN Co’s peak funding envelope approved by the Federal Government.