Councils yet to get NBN area switch over the line

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Councils yet to get NBN area switch over the line

Still hope with nine active applications.

NBN Co is yet to see any councils that have applied to upgrade the NBN connections of constituents sign off on the costs to proceed.

The network builder was known to have fielded 11 applications from councils across Australia: 10 under its area switch program, and one made outside that process through a state/federal government-led application.

All but three councils are pursuing an upgrade from fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) to fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), it has now emerged.

Two additional applications are for switches from Sky Muster satellite into the fixed wireless footprint, while one council wants to go from fixed wireless to FTTN.

However, none have given approval to start implementing the area switch, NBN Co has confirmed.

NBN Co provides two ways for users to upgrade the access technology used for their premises: pay for the upgrade themselves as an “individual premises switch” under the company’s technology choice program, while the other is an “area switch” where an entity - usually a council - applies to upgrade all connections in a given area.

Individuals have largely balked at the cost to upgrade once they receive quotes from NBN Co.

It appears some councils wanting area switch upgrades gave up on the process prior to receiving a desktop cost estimate.

“Currently none of the 10 councils have elected to proceed to [the] next stage,” NBN Co confirmed this week.

“The costs of an area switch application amongst each of the councils can vary significantly as each needs to be calculated taking into account the specific technology change requested, number of premises as well as specific local factors such as access to NBN network point, access to premises, [and] remediation (if any) of existing infrastructure.

“[NBN Co’s] planning [team] conducts an initial desktop assessment of costs from which a ‘cost estimate’ is generated, however, a site survey is needed before a detailed design is generated in order to provide an area switch build quote.”

NBN Co said three applications - from Clare and Gilbert Valley Council, the city of Ryde, and Murrindindi Shire Council - had lapsed prior to the first cost estimate being provided.

Another application - from the North Eastern Wheatbelt Regional Organisation of Councils (NEWROC) - had become inactive once a quote had been provided.

However, there was still some hope as seven applications from the original batch remain “active”, though the exact status is unclear.

In addition, NBN Co said two more councils had sought area switches since May 2017.

It said Wagga Wagga City Council had applied for an upgrade of fixed wireless areas to FTTP, while Armidale Regional Council wanted to see any “fixed line/FTTN” areas in its constituency also upgraded to full FTTP.

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