NBN Co walks away from NSW power pole talks

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NBN Co walks away from NSW power pole talks

Ausgrid loses opportunity for profit.

Ausgrid has lost its opportunity to profit from NBN Co's need to string cables on NSW electricity poles after the latter walked away from 18 months of commercial talks late last month.

NBN Co sought to access NSW power poles to connect 25 percent of homes and businesses to the National Broadband Network, in areas deemed too expensive to construct underground.

The NSW Government had refused to lower its fair access price from $140 per pole, compared to $40 per pole in other states, prompting NBN Co to invoke Schedule 3 of the Telecommunications Act 1997 last October.

The Australian Financial Review this week reported that NBN Co would test those powers at Long Jetty on the NSW Central Coast.

As a result of the failed negotiations, Ausgrid will lose the opportunity for commercial profit. NBN Co will only need to reimburse Ausgrid for losses it proves it had incurred as a result of the build.

“The legislation of the Telecommunications Act is set up to recognise when a commercial arrangement can’t be reached, it is in the longer term economic interest of the country that the facilities be shared where they can be,” NBN Co spokeswoman Rhonda Griffin told iTnews.

Ausgrid said in a statement it had yet to receive any proposed program for the network roll-out from NBN Co or its contractors.

Expediting the rollout

NBN Co representative Andrew Sholl today told iTnews the company could no longer afford the delay. He said the move would not add to the cost or timeframe of the rollout. 

“We have a schedule of works to rollout the NBN. We need to expedite the process.” 

Schedule 3 of the Telco Act allows NBN Co to inspect land to determine whether the land is suitable for its purpose, install a facility on the land, and the power to maintain a facility that is situated on the land.

Griffin said the failed negotiations had not delayed the state rollout, as NBN Co had re-evaluated some areas originally slated for aerial connection during negotiations and found some suitable for underground cabling.

Griffin declined to provide a timeframe for when NBN Co would begin stringing cables on the NSW power poles.

“It will take a few weeks. We still have to issue a final land notice, there are still some processes we need to go through first, and then it will take some time to put that in place,” she said. 

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