‘Better late than never’ appears to be Vodafone’s catch phrase with respect to the National Broadband Network, with the mobile telco revealing today it had formalised a deal with NBN Co to conduct trials on the company’s fledgling fibre network as it is rolled out in the NSW town of Armidale over the next few months.
Although Vodafone (in the form of parent company VHA) has long stated it was interested in providing fixed broadband services over the NBN, the company wasn’t part of either the first stage of trials in Tasmania last year, nor was it announced as part of a second tranche of service providers last month to trial services on the mainland.
But in a speech today to the annual general meeting of VHA shareholder Hutchison, Vodafone chief executive Nigel Dews made it clear his company was sticking his foot firmly in the water. “I am pleased to announced that we have signed an agreement with NBN Co to participate in the first residential fixed line trial of the National Broadband Network, which will take place in Armidale in northern NSW in the coming months,” he said.
“The NBN trials are a great opportunity for us to learn more about how the NBN will complement our existing mobile network,” Dews said. “We will also work with NBN Co to develop products and test the complementary nature of high-speed fibre as an interconnection point to support mobile transmission or base station access. If successful, it could mean more mobile services, to more Australians, at more competitive prices.”
In a separate statement, Vodafone confirmed it would trial the provision of residential fixed-line broadband services on the NBN. “Customers who live within the trial area will be contacted with the offer of a free trial of Vodafone’s fixed line broadband service,” the company said.
NBN Co has already been trialling fibre to the home services with a handful of ISPs in Tasmania — Internode, iiNet, Primus, Telstra and Exetel. In early April it added a few more names to that list; ISPs who will provide services over the NBN when its first five early stage releases sites start delivering services to residents. Those ISPs are AAPT, academic network AARNet, Comscentre, Nextgen Networks, Optus, Platform Networks and SkyMesh.
The Armidale trials are slated to begin “in the near future”, while NBN Co has reassured that for those residents in early stage release sites not selected to take part in the trials, full commercial services were expected to be delivered in increasing volumes through their ISP after September 2011.
Image credits: Vodafone