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NBN Co puts October date on first FTTB connections

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NBN Co, the entity charged with building Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) has announced the expected go-live data for its first commercial fibre/copper services, saying its fibre-to-the-basement (FTTB) product will be ready by October 2014.

Running behind the less-constrained internet service provider TPG, which is boosting its own plan to sprint into the FTTB market, NBN Co has told a Senate committee that it's in discussion with strata bodies corporate in key metro markets.

Without detailing what technology would be deployed to get from basements to apartments, NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow said fibre would be deployed as far as basements, because fibre to the premise is “the only product that we have available today”.

In an eerie echo of the 1990s HFC rollout, in which Telstra shadowed Optus on an almost meter-by-meter basis, Morrow told the committee that NBN Co is planning to fast-track its FTTB deployment in areas that TPG is targeting.

[The 1990s HFC wars were such a success that both Telstra and Optus ultimately called a halt to their rollouts, and by 2003 had both written down the book value of the HFC networks to zero – The Register.]

Meanwhile, Dr Michael Vertigan, head of the government's review into the NBN, told the same committee that his review is not yet ready to comment on the regulatory implications of – and possible responses to – TPG's FTTB rollout.

According to Communications Day, Vertigan told the committee: “We are looking at the TPG solution not as a one-off, but as part of the generic solution to competition at the infrastructure level, and how it might occur.”

However, Vertigan said the review was avoiding creating an ad-hoc response that didn't take into account the “overall solution”. ®

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