Opticomm exits Greenfield lobby

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Opticomm exits Greenfield lobby

Group seeks clarity on fibre arrangements.

Greenfields fibre operator Opticomm has withdrawn from an industry lobby group just a day after the group's existence was made public.

CommsDay reported yesterday that seven fibre operators had banded together to form the Greenfield Fibre Operators Australia (GFOA).

The group was lobbying the Government to "clarify how the national broadband network will affect them and their existing customers", according to a statement sent to iTnews.

But the group was slimmed to six operators overnight after the Hills Industries-backed Opticomm formally withdrew.

"Opticomm has withdrawn from GFOA to pursue a direct course of action," general manager Phil Smith told iTnews today.

The membership was now Openetworks, TransACT, Comverge, Service Elements, Pivit and Broadcast Engineering Services.

GFOA spokesman - Openetworks' Michael Sparksman - confirmed to iTnews that Opticomm were "no longer in the group".

He said the remaining members stood behind a group statement issued late yesterday evening.

"It's an agreed statement," Sparksman said. "All the members are comfortable with it."

New statement

Sparksman said in a statement that NBN Co had not yet met with GFOA "to discuss how it could work effectively with the existing FTTP network operators and how greenfields developments are to be serviced from 1 January 2011, given the Federal Government's expectation for them to be either fibre connected or fibre ready."

"Our concerns are to ensure fair competition in greenfields where we have been operating for several years without taxpayer subsidies," Sparksman said.

"We do not want any favours, only fair competition."

He told iTnews that GFOA planned to continue its consultations with the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

The GFOA sought clarity on eight issues it identified in its statement (see below).

Members remained concerned at the role NBN Co was expected to play as "provider of last resort" in new housing estates under a Federal mandate due to come into effect January 1, 2011.

But they also aired new concerns, including the desire for NBN Co to "unbundle backhaul costs [by providing] a national flat rate for backhaul between the Points of Interconnection (POI) and the Fibre Access Network (FAN) for the local or last mile communities."

"The real problem with the backhaul cost now is distance-based charging," Sparksman said.

"That's why we say you've got to be able to offer one national backhaul rate."

GFOA concern list

  • Sensible standards for interconnections between NBN Co and the last mile operators, such as those recognised internationally or specifically developed by Comms Alliance for the NBN over the past 2 years.
  • Reasonable standards, terms and conditions for inter-operability or access to backhaul from NBN Co.
  • Unbundling backhaul costs by NBN Co to provide a national flat rate for backhaul between the Points of Interconnection (POI) and the Fibre Access Network (FAN) for the local or last mile communities.
  • That there should be clear explanation how NBN Co will be the 'provider of last resort'.
  • The government's stance on over-building GFOA networks that will effectively connect about 800,000 homes and businesses when the current GFOA networks are completed.
  • Whether the government will offer compensation to GFOA members, similar to Telstra and Optus to transfer customers to NBN Co.
  • Clarity for developers on how they can meet the Federal government's mandate that by 1 January 2011 all Greenfield lots must be either fibre connected or fibre ready when there is no funding, no subsidy, nor structure to enable them to comply, even assuming that developers could get the necessary fibre and active equipment by that date.
  • Ownership and operation of last mile or local networks by GFOA members.
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