NBN Co to consult on third party dark fibre use

NBN Co to consult on third party dark fibre use

Rather than build its own

Credit: NBN Co

NBN Co is looking into possible ways of using third-party dark fibre connections for enterprise and government Ethernet connections in areas already serviced by existing fibre, rather than building its own. 

In launching a telecommunications industry consultation paper called Options for establishing an industry-wide procurement process to make greater use of third-party fibre infrastructure, NBN Co has put forward two possible approaches to customer premises dark fibre procurement.

The first involves the expansion of NBN Co’s current Request for Proposal process where a company would request one or more pre-qualified, NBN Co-approved suppliers to provide a proposal to supply dark fibre connectivity services at specific locations to support the delivery of either NBN Co’s TC2 or Enterprise Ethernet service. 

The second option would see NBN Co establish an industry-wide reverse auction process whereby the company would periodically conduct reverse auctions allowing existing fibre network providers to bid, on a confidential basis, to supply NBN Co with dark fibre connectivity services to specified locations on specific, predetermined standard terms and conditions.

“To date, whilst we have usually installed new fibre connections to large customer locations when requested, we have made some limited use of existing fibre when we have done so," NBN Co chief strategy and transformation officer Will Irving said.

“However, because other network operators may have spare capacity on infrastructure serving some of these locations it may be unnecessary for NBN Co to duplicate the fibre infrastructure serving those premises.

“We hear the industry, and this consultation paper explores ways NBN Co might efficiently obtain the use of that existing fibre to serve the needs of business and government customers who wish to be connected using the nbn," Irving added.

Network carriers have been invited to make written submissions by 24 February 2020.

The way in which NBN Co handles enterprise and government customers has come under constant scrutiny from the telco industry.

Vocusalongside Telstra and TPG, have been vocal in their criticism of NBN Co’s bypassing of RSPs to sell direct to enterprise users, which the telcos regard as a threat to competition.

In its submission to the government committee looking at NBN Co’s enterprise activities, Vocus claimed the expansion of NBN Co's channel partner program from an “education initiative” into a sales campaign with direct financial incentives is “the latest example of NBN encroaching into the domain of RSPs”. 

Previous criticism launched at the government-owned network builder suggested it has “overreached” itself by going directly after business consumers with enterprise broadband deals.

However, the head of NBN Co’s enterprise division Paul Tyler last year defended the wholesale broadband provider against comments made by Telstra chairman John Mullen, who called its push into the telco's territory “problematic” and outside its mandate.

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