news The chief executive of the NBN company has flatly refused to comment on contentious situations with relation to the company’s rollout in the South Brisbane and Canberra areas, where it appears to be overbuilding existing open access high-speed broadband infrastructure.
For much of the past three years, the NBN company and Telstra have been in talks over selling Telstra’s extensive Fibre to the Premises rollout in the South Brisbane exchange area to the NBN company. Telstra build fibre in the area to replace its existing copper network, due to the fact that a new hospital had necessitated the demolition of its South Brisbane telephone exchange.
However, Delimiter recently revealed that the NBN company had started overbuilding Telstra’s FTTP network in the area. The Department of Communications has also recently written to at least one resident in the area letting them know that Telstra was “unable” to sell the network to the NBN company.
Asked about the issue in a financial results briefing session yesterday, NBN company chief executive Bill Morrow flatly refused to say whether the NBN company was still talking to Telstra about South Brisbane.
“As we look at the rollout, we look at all assets out there that would either speed up the rollout or reduce our net costs,” he said. “The South Brisbane area has very adequate services out there today; [it’s] not necessarily a priority. That’s kind of how we prioritise things. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Morrow was also asked about the NBN company’s activities in overbuilding the TransACT high-speed broadband networks in Canberra.
Delimiter recently revealed the NBN company was planning to overbuild TransACT’s long-established Fibre to the Node and HFC cable networks in Canberra, Mildura and Geelong with more Fibre to the Node cables.
The plans come despite the fact that the NBN company is ignoring other suburbs in Canberra which are not currently covered by TransACT’s network.
The result will be that Canberra will end up with two competing Fibre to the Node networks — one owned by the Federal Government, and one not, but neither covering a number of underserved suburbs.
It is believed that the Canberra TransACT FTTN network is already open access on a wholesale basis to other ISPs, as the NBN network is. This means it is not clear what advantages the NBN FTTN network will bring residents in those areas of Canberra.
Asked about the issue yesterday, Morrow said there would always be some who were not happy about their premises not being at the front of the queue with respect to the NBN rollout. “There’s always somebody first and somebody last,” he said.
The executive said the NBN company always looked at assets that it could buy. If there were, Morrow said, the company would pursue that option. However, he said, if an asset was not going to be sold to the company, then the company would “move forward with our build”. It appears that TransACT owner TPG does not wish to sell the infrastructure in the ACT and Victoria to the NBN company.
Morrow said until an area had been declared as “adequately served” with high-speed broadband — which the TransACT regions have not — then it had an obligation to build its network in that area.
However, Morrow did not answer the question of why the NBN company was choosing specifically to overbuild TransACT’s network in the ACT as a matter of priority, while not focusing on other suburbs in Canberra which do not have high-speed broadband at all.
It is disappointing to see this lack of transparency from Morrow … I am not sure what purpose the NBN company could serve by not discussing the South Brisbane situation at all or by focusing its rollout on suburbs in Canberra and other areas throughout Victoria where high-speed broadband already exists.
I’d love to hear from anyone inside the NBN company about this — please feel free to use Delimiter’s anonymous tips form.
Image credit: NBN company