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NEC ramps up regional broadband wholesale

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With the last link of Australia’s Regional Backhaul Blackspots Program (RBBP) network – from Darwin in the Northern Territory to Toowoomba in Queensland – going live, NEC has announced an expansion of its regional wholesale broadband footprint.

Backhaul has long been a bottleneck in broadband outside metropolitan Australia, with providers reluctant to install DSLAMs in towns served only by Telstra long-haul fibre. Under the RBBP program, fibre outfit Nextgen has been contracted to build and operate a backhaul network covering regional locations in all mainland states.

NEC is taking advantage of the new network, announcing that it will be installing DSLAMs most of the way along the Darwin-Toowoomba link.

According to Richard McCarthy, assistant general manager of NEC’s broadband division Nextep, the arrival of competitive backhaul in RBBP locations has a huge impact on the financial viability of service provision.

In regional areas, he told The Register, “low backhaul [cost] will allow retailers to compete with healthy margins, with prices in the region of 10 to 30 percent below the current lowest residential price”.

“Wholesale prices will be very similar to metropolitan prices,” he said, “which will enable retailers to acquire customers from the incumbent, and also acquire new customers who were disadvantaged do to a lack of competition.”

NEC says it has selected communities based on the expected customer demand, rather than simply the size of the community. Many remote communities in Australia maintain low resident populations, but because of mining activity can generate a greater demand for business services than might be implied by their size.

The company says it will be installing DSLAMs in the towns and cities of Barcaldine, Chinchilla, Dalby, Longreach, Oakey, Noonamah, Palmerston, Darwin, Tennant Creek, Katherine, Howards Springs, Berrimah, Casuarina, Nightcliff, Emerald, Blackwater, Roma, Mount Isa and Cloncurry. ®

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