NBN Co, the company overseeing Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) project, has outlined the principles which will determine which access technologies will be deployed to connect communities. According to the company, these broad principles ‘pave the way for the full transition to a multi-technology network and support the company’s commitment to roll out the NBN at the least cost to taxpayers and as quickly as possible’. As per its plans, NBN Co will deploy a range of technologies and utilise existing fit-for-purpose network infrastructure to deliver the minimum data rates required by the state’s broadband policy, with this meaning that most premises already served by the Optus or Telstra Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) cable networks will be served by an upgraded HFC network. The incorporation into the NBN of copper and HFC assets is, however, contingent upon the successful conclusion of negotiations currently underway with Telstra and SingTel Optus, NBN Co noted. Meanwhile, in those areas where fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology has been deployed or is in ‘advanced stages of being built’ it will remain part of the NBN rollout, while the same is true for those areas already earmarked for the deployment of fixed wireless or satellite networks. With regards to future deployments, however, NBN Co confirmed that all other communities are likely to receive superfast broadband connectivity via fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) technology or, in the case of multi-dwelling units such as apartment blocks, fibre-to-the-basement (FTTB) technology.
Meanwhile, it has also been confirmed that a fibre-on-demand product in under consideration, with work said to be underway on the development of guidelines so that individuals or businesses with specific speed requirements might be able to purchase fibre up to their premises. In addition, NBN Co has said it will work with small communities that choose to co-fund FTTP if they are in an alternative technology area.
Commenting on the plans, NBN Co’s Chief Executive Officer Bill Morrow noted: ‘In order to optimise the benefits of a digital economy we must first, and foremost, address the under-penetration of broadband access as soon as possible. Universal Access, sufficient speeds, affordability and the time to build are all key factors necessary for us to achieve these benefits and the MTM [multi-technology mix] guidelines were developed with these in mind … Furthermore, these principles will give greater clarity to local communities and service providers about how the NBN is being rolled out and the criteria underpinning the choice of technology in each community.’