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Turnbull says NBN Co could offer FTTN with optional fibre-for-cash

Coalition comms spokesman cites BT Openreach's FoD as decent model

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Australia's shadow Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has said he sees no reason NBN Co could not offer a “fibre-on-demand” (FoD) service that would see those offered xDSL connections under a fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) scheme offered the chance to pay for a fibre optic cable to be connected to their premises.

Turnbull's Liberal Party has not released a formal policy on the future of the NBN, but he has indicated that a FTTN scheme is the party's preferred approach as it will enable a faster, cheaper, build for a national broadband network.

Speaking at the Kickstart conference, Turnbull said his understanding of the equipment used at the node in FTTN networks “can do ADSL and GPON” and therefore there is “no reason technically you could not make it available.”

“I struggle to see why you would not do it.”

Turnbull also pointed out he was “not making a pledge on it here” but said the costs charged by the UK's BT Openreach would not be onerous for local businesses. Citing an example of a suburban architect whose use of CAD applications creates an unusual need for bandwidth, Turnbull suggested fibre-on-demand could remove what he sees as the greatest problem with the NBN's design, namely the insistence that fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) is always the best technology.

That assumption, he said, is slowing the network's implementation to the detriment of the nation. Turnbull yesterday spoke to business park residents in the Queensland town of Coolum, who he said have inadequate broadband because they are not yet on the rollout schedule for FTTP but will not be offered faster broadband because carriers have no incentive to invest given NBN Co will be along some decade soon to overbuild. ®

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