According to an updated Product Roadmap published by NBN Co, the company overseeing Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) project, it does not expect to begin offering commercial services over the hybrid-fibre coaxial (HFC) networks it will acquire from Telstra and Optus until March 2016. Prior to a commercial launch, NBN Co has revealed plan to conduct a pilot of services over this infrastructure starting 30 November 2015 and running until 31 March 2016, with the first phase of its product release then scheduled to start that month.
As noted by ZDNet Australia, the updated roadmap represents the first to take into account the recently announced agreements to take control of the cable networks that have been rolled out by the nation’s two largest fixed line providers.
Meanwhile, the local news source cites NBN Co’s chief customer officer John Simon as saying that the company is on track with some of the other technologies planned for release in 2015, with the executive cited as saying: ‘We are continuing our fibre-to-the-basement (FTTB) pilot in inner-city Melbourne, with around 45 end users currently experiencing average download peak speeds of 89Mbps and average upload speeds of 36Mbps … We will be working with our industry partners and ISPs over the next few months to ensure the (FTTB) product has been tested in preparation for commercial launch, which is scheduled for Q1 2015.’
Another new element added to the updated Product Roadmap, meanwhile, is the planned trial of higher-speed fixed-wireless broadband services starting 15 March 2015, and finishing 30 June 2015, with NBN Co aiming to achieve 50Mbps downstream speeds and 20Mbps uplink using LTE-based infrastructure.
In separate but related news, fixed line incumbent Telstra has announced the signing of a contract with NBN Co under which it will provide planning and design services to support the NBN rollout; the four-year deal is valued at up to AUD390 million (USD318 million), based on the telco’s estimate of the volume of work it will be awarded by NBN Co. Telstra’s chief operations officer Kate McKenzie added that as per the contract Telstra would prepare network plans and designs to support NBN Co’s multi-technology mix NBN rollout, including fibre-to-the-node (FTTN), FTTB and fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), saying: ‘We’re pleased to have won this work in a competitive market and we look forward to working with NBN Co to help it prepare for the construction of the next phase of the NBN.’ In addition, Telstra is said to be in discussion with NBN Co on the provision of construction and maintenance services.