news The NBN company this morning announced it would pay Telstra about $1.6 billion over the next four years to upgrade and extend its HFC cable network as part of the National Broadband Network.
Under Labor’s original model for the NBN, Fibre to the Premises infrastructure was to be deployed almost universally around Australia. However, the Coalition’s Multi-Technology Mix for the NBN is seeing the copper and HFC cable networks owned by Telstra and Optus integrated as part of the NBN network.
About a third of Australians are slated to receive NBN services over the HFC cable networks.
The new NBN/Telstra contract was announced by the two telcos in separate statements this morning.
The NBN company said that under the new arrangement, Telstra will carry out the design, part of the construction and the construction management of the remainder of the work required to extend the NBN network to about three million premises currently in the footprint of Telstra’s HFC cable network.
NBNCEO Bill Morrow said: “The nbn™ network is now available to two million homes and businesses, with close to one million already connected. This deal will extend the nbn™ network to millions more, bringing new opportunity in education, health and online services to more families.”
“Telstra has enormous experience in HFC design and construction, and the rollout will be greatly assisted by having them as a key partner in the delivery of this part of the network.”
The NBN company said premises in the footprint would “primarily” be connected to the NBN company’s upgraded HFC technology. However, it intimated that other technologies (for example, the NBN company also favours Fibre to the Node) may also be applied “to enable the network to deployed as quickly as possible”.
The NBN company said the new agreement complements and streamlines the existing arrangements NBN has with Telstra, creating a faster rollout schedule and access to all NBN retail ISPs.
“The agreement is structured to accelerate deployment of the NBN network,” the NBN company stated. “Multi-technology Integrated Master Agreement (MIMA) partners will be deployed, with Telstra leveraging its knowledge of the existing network to manage and coordinate the construction activities on behalf of NBN.”
Following a Memorandum of Understanding announced in December 2015, early works have been underway while negotiations progressed, including preparing Telstra NBN exchange locations and HFC planning and design work.
The NBN company said this new agreement came on top of “successful trials” on the Optus HFC network in Redcliffe, Queensland, with end users experiencing trial speeds of up to 100Mbps/40Mbps. The NBN company said it was on track to make an initial 10,000 HFC premises available for orders by the end of June 2016.
“This is a significant milestone in nbn’s goal of finishing the rollout by 2020 and connecting 8 million homes and businesses,” said Morrow.
Telstra said in its own statement that the works are expected to continue until the end of the nbn build, slated to be completed by 2020, and include geographic areas within the Telstra HFC network footprint in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth and Adelaide.
Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said he was pleased to have come to such an important agreement with the NBN company.
“We have a very strong relationship with NBN and I am pleased that we have reached an agreement and can support NBN in building out the nbn network in the existing Telstra HFC footprint,” said Penn.
“Telstra has a long and proud history in network construction and we believe we will bring great expertise to this important part of the NBN network. We are already mobilising our workforce to ensure we support NBN in their roll out schedule.”
“We look forward to working with nbn on this significant program of work, helping to bring the nbn network to millions of homes and businesses.”
Image credit: Telstra