news National broadband provider TPG has signed up to provide services over the fibre network which Telstra is building in its South Brisbane exchange area, as debate continues to swirl over Telstra’s treatment of the shutdown of its existing copper network in the area.
Telstra has chosen to replace the copper connections to about 20,000 premises in the region as its South Brisbane telephone exchange — where the copper cables terminate — is being closed in order to make way for the new Queensland Children’s Hospital in the area. The region is one of the first in Australia to receive fibre services to the home — but is not part of the Federal Government’s flagship National Broadband Network project, although the long-term plan is for the infrastructure to become part of the NBN. The first customers recently went live on the network — including customers of ISPs who had gained wholesale access to the network.
In a statement posted yesterday on broadband forum Whirlpool, TPG representative Jay_B wrote that the company was pleased to announced it had finalised its fibre-optic plans for existing customers in South Brisbane. “We will be sending email invitations with an offer to migrate your service to the new Fibre Optic plans,” he wrote. “We expect the first round of invitations to be sent in early October and the whole process to be completed within the next 18 months.”
Jay_B noted that although TPG was interested in signing up new customers to its fibre-optic plans in the region, initially it would be targeting existing customer migrations only. “We’ll post here once it’s available for new customers,” he added.
In TPG’s confirmation of its sign-on with Telstra in South Brisbane, there was no hint of the antagonism which other ISPs such as rivals iiNet and Internode are currently demonstrating with respect to the rollout.
In a joint submission to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission published this week filed by law firm Herbert Geer the two ISPs argued that wholesale fibre services in Australia should be included in the definition of what is known as a ‘Bitstream’ wholesale service, with particular reference to the “unacceptable” situation in South Brisbane. The pair argue that the previous copper network in the area was regulated, while Telstra’s new fibre network will be unregulated — although it is eventually slated to be part of the National Broadband Network.
The South Brisbane fibre network will not initially offer the same services as are currently available on the copper network — with some services, such as ‘naked’ broadband without a telephone service, or the ability to stream IPTV through multi-cast — being left out.
However, Telstra reacted by stating that the prices it was offering to wholesale customers allowed them to be competitive, and that it had offered transitional assistance to ease the migration of wholesale services onto the network. Telstra has currently signed up 18 wholesale customers onto the South Brisbane network, it said.
TPG is normally pretty close-mouthed about its corporate relationships, and I wouldn’t expect to see it airing its dirty laundry about South Brisbane the same way iiNet and Internode have. However, I do expect that there have been some pretty tough negotiations going on between the price-conscious ISP and Telstra in the region. TPG has enough scale to be able to get some pretty good deals from Telstra, and I don’t see them as competing all that strongly, given Telstra doesn’t usually go for the cut-rate market which TPG normally targets.
Image credit: Telstra