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NBN downstream wholesale arrives, courtesy of Nextgen

Entry-level for smaller ISPs

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One of the criticisms of Australia’s National Broadband Network – a case prosecuted by Internode founder Simon Hackett, among others – is that product suites offered by NBN Co don’t suit smaller ISPs.

Nextgen Networks is seeking to address that by crafting an alternative wholesale product. The company says its “NBN Connect” suite has already signed its first customers.

NBN Connect includes connectivity to NBN points of interconnect (PoIs) – a key feature, since PoI access is difficult to achieve for any ISP without national scale.

This is because the NBN is designed as a last-mile network only (so as not to compete with the privately-owned long-haul fibre networks that service most Australian cities and a number of regional centres). Each cluster of end users in a fibre serving area (FSA) is directly accessible only through the PoI that serves those customers (currently, NBN Co plans 121 PoIs around the country).

If an ISP dealing directly with NBN Co wants to achieve national connectivity, it would eventually have to obtain a connection to each of those 121 PoIs. By creating a downstream wholesale product, Nextgen says it is solving the problem of PoI access for ISPs that can’t make such purchases in their own right.

Instead, ISPs need only make connection to a data centre in which Nextgen has fibre connected, and it will deliver their traffic to the PoI. As well as its own data centres and those owned by its parent company Leighton (such as those under the Metronode brand), Nextgen claims a presence in most of Australia’s major data centres.

The product suite also offers features attractive to larger ISPs, with the company citing QoS features, private Layer 2 networking to NBN PoIs, or the option to buy fully private transmission capacity to PoIs.

And it probably won’t be too long before the offering expands to include international transit, since Leighton is the backer of a planned submarine cable to be constructed in 2013.

In other NBN news, the Australian Financial Review today claims that Optus is close to signing an agreement with NBN Co to move broadband customers off its cable networks and onto the NBN.

The AFR story says the customer transfer will be worth somewhere between A$500 million and A$1 billion.

After the migration, the Optus HFC network would support only its pay TV customer base. Presumably, those customers using the HFC network for telephony would also be migrated to the NBN, with Optus acting as retailer to those customers. ®

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