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Southbank misses out on NBN fibre ‘coup’

26 Oct 2014

Southbank misses out on NBN fibre ‘coup’ Image

An apartment complex in Docklands and three in South Melbourne are part of a dozen buildings in Australia, which have been retrofitted with NBN Co optical fibre to the apartment.

While new buildings in Southbank are being fitted to the same standard, no existing apartment complexes are currently on NBN Co’s timeline for accelerated rollout.

The Hallmark Building, Domain Apartments on Albert Rd and 88 Park St are the three buildings on Southbank’s doorstep, which were selected for advanced rollout.

Dock 5 in Docklands was the fourth building, which according to the company, is already up and running.

NBN Co is being coy about its motivation for selecting the four buildings for what it is called a “trial”, but it followed closely on the heels of news about rival TPG demanding access to install its own connections.

At a meeting with Dock 5 residents on September 17, NBN Co representative Corrie Withers likened the installation to winning Melbourne Cricket Club membership.

“You are very lucky,” Mr Withers told residents.

He said that residents would have a choice of potentially 80 approved retail providers to manage the connection and that NBN Co was a wholesaler only.

“We build the road, you choose the car,” he said to explain the relationship.

NBN Co spokesperson Andrew Sholl said the company still had no timeline for wider NBN rollout in the area.

“We’re still working on the timeline for the wider rollout in Southbank,” he said.

“Suffice it to say, the new rollout model involving a mix of technologies will allow us to complete the job sooner than otherwise would have been the case.”

Mr Sholl said NBN’s new developments team continued to connect newly-built buildings to the network such as the 38-storey Epic Apartments.

“We’re obliged by law to deliver connection to any new development with more than 100 lots,” he said.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) last month ruled that TPG was entitled to compete with NBN Co in the race to connect “fibre to the basement” within the lucrative apartment tower market.

TPG is technically able to compete with NBN Co because its fibre network was already in the ground before 2011.

In the press release on September 11, the ACCC said: “The ‘NBN level playing field provisions’ prohibit the use of networks other than the NBN to supply high-speed broadband services to small business or residential customers, unless the network operator supplies on a wholesale basis only and is subject to open access obligations.”

“However, networks that were capable of being used to supply high-speed broadband services to small business or residential customers as at 1 January 2011 are not caught by the level playing field provisions, provided they are not extended more than a kilometre from the network footprint as it was at 1 January 2011.”

“Having carefully examined TPG’s plans, the ACCC does not propose to take further action in relation to TPG’s planned fibre to the basement network rollout to supply residential customers in high-rise buildings in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“The ACCC has reached this decision based on information and evidence that TPG’s networks were capable of supplying superfast carriage services to small business or residential customers at 1 January 2011, and confirmation that TPG is not extending the footprint of these networks by more than one kilometre.”

“The ACCC will now conduct a declaration inquiry into whether a superfast broadband access service like the type to be provided by TPG over its fibre-to-the-basement networks should be the subject of access regulation. Amongst other matters, the inquiry will consider whether regulation is necessary to ensure that consumers in TPG connected buildings can benefit from competitive retail markets for high-speed broadband services,” Mr Sims said.


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