NBN Co claims industry support

NBN Co claims industry support

Government company aims to provide a wholesale only product, alleviating industry fears of a new retail competitor

The Government-owned company responsible for rolling out the National Broadband Network, NBN Co, claims to have significant industry support and agreement for its infrastructure plans.

According to a statement, almost 50 submissions were received in response to a consultation paper NBN Co released in December.

“There is a general consensus on the choice of Layer 2/Ethernet/Gigabit Passive Optical Network [GPON] for the delivery of mass market residential services,” it stated. “NBN Co plans to provide Ethernet point-to-point services at wholesale to address the needs of businesses.”

In a move to dispel industry fears the company could provide retail Internet services, NBN Co head of industry engagement, Christy Boyce, said it was aiming to make as small an impact as possible in the overall value chain.

Both carriers and politicians earlier expressed fears about Government draft legislation potentially turning NBN Co into a retail Internet provider, which could potentially emulate Telstra when privatised.

“NBN Co plans to offer a wholesale-only Layer 2 bitstream product,” Boyce said in a statement. “This means leaving retail service providers with significant ability to innovate and develop new, higher-value services.”

According to Competitive Carriers Coalition spokesperson, David Forman, NBN Co could fairly claim general industry support for now, but would need to provide ongoing information and consultation for it to continue.

“We have no issue at all with the high-level principles they’ve put in place, we think they’re good,” he said. “We expect there will be more information forthcoming on issues such as the locations and nature of points of interconnect [PoI]. Those are crucial issues yet to be determined.”

But Forman was confident NBN Co would continue detailed discussions with the telco industry and keep it informed.

“It’s important those conversations continue to move forward and be open and that their thinking remains flexible, but I don’t think there’s a problem at the moment,” he said.

However, Telstra was less enthusiastic in its submission, despite supporting much of NBN Co’s suggestions. The telco giant disagreed with having only 100-200 POIs.

“[NBN Co’s] requirement that wholesale customers acquire backhaul with the bitstream access product in regional areas will not enhance competition or choice for end-user services,” it stated. “Instead, it may result in the unnecessary stranding of infrastructure and limit options that would otherwise be available.

“Telstra recommends NBN Co adopt a transparent and robust process for determining the location and number of PoIs, and provide wholesale customers with the ability to acquire either the Local Ethernet Bitstream (LEB) or the Aggregated Ethernet Bitstream (AEB) in regional areas.”

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