NBN Co inks deal with Telstra for early access to second stage NBN sites

16 May 2011

The public-private company set up to oversee the construction of Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN), NBN Co, has reportedly reached an agreement with fixed line incumbent Telstra under which the latter will allow early access to its infrastructure at planned second release sites. According to iTWire, a total of 19 locations are covered under the new deal, 14 of which are brand new sites, while the remaining five are adjacent to the NBN’s existing first release areas.

NBN CEO Mike Quigley meanwhile noted in meeting with the Federal Parliament’s NBN committee that his company was, however, still not ready to press the ‘go button’ for a full launch of the fibre network, in part as a result of the continued negotiations with Telstra related to the telco’s transfer of its fixed line customers onto the NBN. ‘It is a fact that the Telstra deal has taken somewhat longer to finalise than we would have liked,’ the executive noted, while also claiming that NBN Co has been constrained as to what it can work whilst it waits for an agreement to be concluded. To counter delays Mr Quigley said the deal for early access to second-stage release sites had been made in order to ensure progress on the network rollout was being made, even if the overarching deal with Telstra remained unresolved.

In the meantime, NBN Co has also pushed forward with other projects, such as the rollout of complementary satellite and wireless broadband networks; with around 93% of the population expected to be covered by the fibre-based NBN, the company intends to connect around 4% of the remaining population via fixed wireless internet fibre footprint, with the other 3% to receive satellite services. To that end, as reported by CommsUpdate earlier this month, NBN Co announced that Optus and IPSTAR had been selected to provide interim satellite broadband services in rural and remote areas of the country, with the two deal worth a combined total of AUD300 million (USD320.5 million). ZDNet Australia meanwhile reports that NBN Co is in negotiations with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) over the possibility of securing additional frequencies for fixed wireless internet services. The public-private company recently acquired 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum from pay-TV company Austar in a deal worth around AUD120 million, but it is understood that it aims to acquire additional 2.2GHz spectrum for those areas not covered by Austar. ‘We’re going through a process also with the ACMA looking at additional 2.2GHz in places we couldn’t get it and we are well advancing negotiations with potential equipment suppliers and also system capability … There is unallocated spectrum that is still in the ACMA hands, and there is a process we can go through there to see if we can get a hold of that spectrum,’ Mr Quigley said.