Internode hits wall in Point Cook negotiations

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Internode hits wall in Point Cook negotiations

No guarantee of wholesale service once the trial is over.

Telstra has confirmed that it won't guarantee ISPs that participate in its Point Cook fibre trial that the 'open access' wholesale arrangements will continue once the trial is over.

But the telco confirmed that customers who bought fibre services from an ISP other than BigPond in the trial period would be able to keep the service.

"It is a technical and commercial trial to assess the technology, demand and systems at both wholesale and retail, so while we hope to move to a commercial offer we cannot guarantee it," a Telstra spokesman told iTnews.

"That said, any services that are delivered during the course of the trial will continue to be supported after the trial.

"At the end of the trial customers can remain with their chosen provider."

The admission came just days after Telstra Wholesale revealed it had invited an undisclosed number of retail service providers to offer services to the 1,500-homes in the test area.

But it was at odds with advice given to one of the ISPs hopeful of providing services into Point Cook.

Internode managing director Simon Hackett said in a Whirlpool post earlier today that the ISP had been negotiating with Telstra to offer retail services on the fibre network for "months".

"To date, we've not been able to obtain a satisfactory outcome for our customers in terms of trial conditions being offered to us by Telstra," he said.

Specifically, Hackett said that Internode had "no way to guarantee that our customers can gain continued access to broadband from Internode at the end of the trial period."

"[Telstra have] done no thinking about how it ends. There is no commitment expressed or implied in the trial that they will become wholesalers," Hackett told iTnews.

"We hate to complain about this in public, but to date its been impossible to resolve the issue in private."

Hackett called on Telstra to commit to "longevity" for the wholesale service beyond the trial period.

"We will keep asking Telstra to provide a better end game guarantee, so that we can, in good conscience, be a part of this trial process with them," he said.

Hackett declined to reveal further details on negotiations including the trial period and how the wholesale prices matched up to those from rivals such as OptiComm. But he said those details "weren't unreasonable".

Copper rollback?

It was unclear whether customers that trialled a fibre internet service using an ISP other than BigPond could continue using that ISP by rolling back the service to ADSL.

When the trial was announced in December, Telstra said it would replace copper lines with fibre.

The telco clarified today that "only customers who order a fibre service will have fibre installed."

"We expect to remove the copper lead-in for those customers that order fibre but this will be assessed as part of the trial," a spokesman for the telco said.

"If the copper is removed, and a customer requests it be re-installed after the trial, then we'll consider requests on a case-by-case basis."

Other invitees

It was also unclear which other ISPs have been invited to join the trial.

ISP iiNet told iTnews it had not yet sought to join the trial - it offers fibre services in the neighbouring Alamanda Estate, which is cabled by OptiComm - but would bring up the topic with Telstra at meetings scheduled for later this week.

Other ISPs have been contacted for comment.

Telstra confirmed only that it was "in discussion with a number of wholesale customers on their potential participation in the trial."

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