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Concerns over fibre connection

10 Jun 2014

Concerns over fibre connection Image

High-density apartment towers in Southbank have been targeted for fibre internet connection.

A company owned by TPG Telecom, called PIPE Networks, has issued Land Access and Activity Notices (LAAN) to multiple Southbank residential tower owners corporations (OCs) signaling its intention to inspect and install fibre connection to their properties.

OCs are concerned that future connections to the National Broadband Network (NBN) could be compromised and at their inability to stop PIPE Networks, without going to court.

A loophole in Schedule 3 of the Telecommunications Act gives PIPE Networks the right to enter shared property and attached Fibre to the Basement (FTTB), as long as it has issued the building with a LAAN.

Southbank Residents Group president Tony Penna said this was a new issue, but residents were concerned.

“Towers and OCs don’t like to be dictated to, but cherish their freedom to chose. We hope PIPE Networks, or any other player, can respect this.”

Mr Penna said he had no concern with PIPE Network’s fundamental objective; “As long as it is ethical and has no hidden agenda to monopolise or hinder access and progress to any future technological advances to any other network, which may be better priced or offer a better product.”

NBN Co too has expressed its concerns over PIPE’s practices.

“A building that signs up to TPG runs the risk of being left with only one retail service provider – TPG itself,” NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow said.

“We believe NBN represents the superior solution for building owners and the families and businesses they house.”

TPG spokesperson Tony Moffett confirmed that Schedule 3 of the Telecommunications Act: “gives carriers the powers to enter onto any land to inspect it, install certain types of facilities and to maintain those facilities.”

He explained that because PIPE already had fibre optic cable covering a lot of the Southbank area it was a logical area to connect to.

“Southbank is one of several natural places for TPG to commence its fibre to the building project,” Mr Moffett said.

“Most residential and commercial buildings in the Southbank area that meet the requirements for the rollout have received LAANs.”

“The installation works costs the body corporates nothing so there are benefits to be gained for occupants with no outlay.”

Mr Moffett said the reaction to TPG’s push into Southbank had been mixed.

“Some have been extremely supportive and PIPE has installed its equipment in those buildings. Some have not understood the nature of the LAANs and have sought more information,” he said.

“Others have been less positive and have chosen to reject PIPE’s notices for inspection and installation." 

We are working through the process with each of the bodies corporate.”

Tisher Liner FC Law’s Nicole Wilde told Southbank Local News that PIPE’s confidence to enter the Southbank residential market had been born out of a federal court case it won in the CBD.

“The federal case featured a tenant who had asked PIPE Networks to come into the building, I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest that anyone from the residential buildings has asked this.”

“PIPE rolled out a program in Melbourne for all buildings, whether they’re residential, commercial or both, treating them all the same as the federal case,” she said.

Ms Wilde said she understood 200 high-density buildings in Southbank, Docklands and the CBD had received LAANs.

“PIPE Networks has given people the minimum notification required under the Telecommunications Act, for the purpose of inspecting and then installing FTTB,” she said.

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