TPG’s FTTB rollout still progressing extremely slowly


news Retail broadband provider AusBBS has released new statistics showing that the Fibre to the Basement network which Australia’s third-largest telco TPG is deploying to metropolitan apartment blocks in competition with the National Broadband Network is progressing extremely slowly.

In September 2013, the Coalition won that year’s Federal Election and confirmed plans to radically shift the direction of Labor’s previously near-universal Fibre to the Premises model for the NBN. In that same month, TPG reacted by announcing that it would deploy its own Fibre to the Basement network, which would reach some 500,000 apartments around Australia.

The TPG announcement was seen as extremely significant because it would allow the private sector to compete more directly with the NBN project.

Previously, the NBN project had been envisaged as creating a monopoly provider of last-mile telecommunications infrastructure. However, the shift to the Coalition’s MTM model changed the game substantially, opening up the possibility that ISPs such as TPG would start to deploy their own infrastructure, due to the fact that the NBN company would no longer be overbuilding every network with the best possible Fibre to the Premises technology.

Then-Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull eventually modified the nation’s telecommunications regulations to force providers such as TPG who wanted to deploy their own networks to open those own networks for wholesale access by other broadband providers.

However, it appears that TPG has made little progress over the past two years in deploying its FTTB infrastructure.

Retail ISP AusBBS noted in a post on broadband forum Whirlpool last week that it had started offering FTTB plans over TPG’s infrastructure. AusBBS noted that it could now offer FTTB services in over 850 apartment buildings in the CBDs of major capital cities.

It it not clear how many of those premises related to TPG’s network, with others such as LBN Co also having opened their networks to AusBBS.

However, if the whole 850 apartment blocks were TPG’s FTTB infrastructure, this would mean that the company had deployed FTTB to only a small percentage of the 500,000 apartments it is targeting with its FTTB technology.

In December 2014, TPG chief executive David Teoh admitted the process of getting FTTB connected had been slow.

“There is a process involved and initially it is quite a slow process and is very difficult to implement. When we go to 20 buildings on a street, maybe two buildings agree, and then the rest take a long time,” Teoh told his company’s annual general meeting, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.

It is not clear how many apartments the NBN company has reached with its rollout.

In late March this year, the company announced it was deploying FTTB — a technology which the previous Labor Government had outlawed.

At the time, the NBN company said it was in the process of rolling out FTTB to some 6,000 homes and businesses in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, and that in total, more than one million homes and businesses across Australia were earmarked to receive the NBN over FTTB.

Is 850 apartment blocks a lot, or not much? It depends on your perspective.

For a company like TPG, which has a history mainly in retail broadband and not construction, 850 apartment blocks is actually a massive amount. It sounds like the company has been throwing resources at FTTB like crazy. I would be interested to know how many individual apartments this would be.

However, compared with the scale of the NBN, and compared with TPG’s aim of bringing FTTB to some 500,000 apartments, you’d have to argue that TPG is still going mightily slowly with its FTTB rollout. It’s been about 26 months since TPG announced its FTTB plans. This would mean the company has only reached about 33 new apartment blocks per month with its FTTB rollout.

What this signals to me is that the TPG FTTB network may not be as much of a threat to the NBN as many people had previously thought. It is beginning to look more like a niche solution rather than something which would really challenge the NBN’s profitability.


  1. “It’s been about 26 months since TPG announced its FTTB plans. This would mean the company has only reached about 33 new apartment blocks per month with its FTTB rollout.”

    It’s probably a bit better than that. Without knowing the state of their systems, processes, vendor agreements etc…when they made the announcement, there might have been a fairly large internal development period before deployment began.

  2. It’s taken all year for our building to get installed by TPG, and they have only just connected the fibre cable, so the physical installation appears to be complete in the building at least, but they haven’t turned it on yet. Given they are digging up footpaths to install ducts and pits all around the place, I’m not surprised the rollout is taking time. Good for them for taking the opportunity though!

  3. When I used to work for a large telco we used to get regular feedback from apartment owners boards requesting sales/pre-qualification to sign up fibre.

    Back then a fibre connection would be like $20-30k a month so obvious the pricing discouraged these potential customers.

    I think that sort of experience/noise from the market for fibre solution to residential buildings gave TPG the belief that there a large demand out there.

    However what’s happened in reality is that when offered multiple options the building boards are dithering on what to choose whilst provisioning issues around the local environment, underground conduit capacity and planning permissions over such a wide area. So many different councils, states and local authorities to deal with.

  4. you’d have to argue that TPG is still going mightily slowly with its FTTB rollout.

    TPG are finding dealing with Strata / Body Corps is just as hard for them as it was for NBN Co – despite the Telco laws providing access, it’s not a simple slam dunk for about 1/2 a dozen reasons I cant be bothered to list here as we’ve been over them in the past for our cognitively challenged right wing friends.

  5. The process for our building took about a year, start to finish, most of this was TPG dragging their feet, not the Strata putting up road blocks. They approached with 2 options, a very open ended vague agreement, that basically would have allowed TPG to do almost anything they saw fit, from the actual FTTB install through to putting up mobile phone equipment on our roof (wireless equipment was specifically mentioned on this agreement, but what they actually planned to do was not) and everything in between, we of course refused. The second option was for them to issue us with a LAAN (Land And Activity Notice), which needs to be very specific, relating only to the FTTB installation. It took them 4 months to conduct site surveys (only two short visits were actually carried out) and issue the LAAN, most of this would need to be done regardless which access option we agreed to. The LAAN gave them 6 months to complete the work, which according to TPG, only required 2 weeks of actual on site access. They completed a few days after the end of the 6 month LAAN period. Our building has an onsite manager who was able to arrange access at any time for TPG. So by far most of the delay was a result of TPG’s poor project management, and not a result of dealing with our Strata.

  6. I think the other 2 issues would be:

    1) I believe there was some hold up (stopping/starting) when they were being challenged by NBNCO.

    2) They now have to provide a open access network. Which isn’t going to be as lucrative for them.

    Without these 2 issues I’d expect we would have seen a lot more progress and upscaling.

    • Yes, I think this is a factor. Basically TPG’s plan was disrupted by the new licensing conditions.

      What will be interesting is to see what happens when / if TPG’s new acquisitions in iiNet and Internode offer a retail service. That hasn’t happened yet. I can’t see any either Telstra or Optus wanting to take up the offer. That leaves TPG and their properties to themselves plus a collection of much smaller operators.

      [Has anyone seen any Wondercom promotion? All we saw was a TPG letter back in February once the building was enabled. Didn’t fancy TPG retail. Seen nothing since]

      • Yes, our building was connected only 2 weeks ago, so all promotional material was from Wondercom. Strata were also sent a list of alternate providers. My neighbor said that iiNet are connecting people to the network (he claims they were able to connect, but could not see our building was active), I have not found any evidence to back this up, next time I see him I’ll ask if he was able to connect.

  7. 850 “Apartment blocks” does not equal 850 apartments. A block by definition is more than one
    If average was

    50 apartments per block is 42,500
    100 apartments per block is 85,000

  8. TPG does have a history in construction, TPG is made up of Soul/AAPT/Pipe Networks and Comindico and use these resources to construct the network.

    I know TPG merged with these companies, but all the Soul/AAPT/Pipe and even Comindico offices still exist and have just been rebranded TPG.

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