Unwired urges telcos to share network maps

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Unwired urges telcos to share network maps

Carriers accused of trivial games when asked to share data.

A senate inquiry into proposed amendments to the Telecommunications Act yesterday heard that there is a need for network owners to declare their existing investments in infrastructure, so that new builds do not overlap existing ones.

Unwired's Manager of Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, David Havyatt, says that infrastructure records need to be made available in one place so that new challengers in the market do not have to contact the whole industry prior to a proposed infrastructure build.

He dismissed prior claims by Telstra that network maps needed to be kept private as a matter of national security.

"You can figure out where every Telstra exchange is by looking up in the sky and looking for their logo," he said. "You can see where telco infrastructure is in the street by looking down and looking for logos on manhole covers. 

"What we're talking about here is in fact just providing information within a secure and controlled environment for purposes of making it possible to get on and plan the National Broadband Network," he said.

Havyatt vented on how hard it is for Unwired to cooperate with existing infrastructure owners when seeing what they have available for new builds.

"You have to guess what is the right question to ask before you get given the information," he said.

"You can't [ask] 'do you have some infrastructure in this area that could be useful to me?' You've sort of got to say 'well do you have a trench that goes from there to there?' and you get the answer 'no'. So you ask 'Well, do you have a trench that goes from there to a metre away from there?' And the answer might be, 'Oh yes we have one of those'. It's that kind of constraint on the information provision."

Asked about how much a fibre to the premise build would cost in terms of civil engineering, Havyatt said the industry often quoted 85 percent of the cost of a build going towards the trenches and not the actual technology behind it such as the fibre.

"You can make a significant saving on those costs if you utilise existing pieces of civil engineering works," he said. "The glass itself is not the expensive piece, it is somewhere to put the glass that is the expensive piece."

A spokesperson for the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, told iTnews that flagged measures in the Government's April NBN announcement allow it to "access network information relevant to National Broadband Network planning."

As far as the sharing of network maps goes, the spokesman said the "preferred approach will be for voluntary requests for network information." 

"However the legislation allows, following a formal consultation period, [for the] Government to obtain information under law."

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