Roughly “a million and a half” homes could support a 1Gbps fixed line service on the NBN, according to NBN Co, but RSPs are yet to launch commercial services.
The network builder has offered a wholesale 1Gbps product since 2013. Several retail service providers (RSPs) – Telstra, Optus, and TPG – have been trialling 1Gbps services over the past year.
The number of test services fluctuates each quarter, according to numbers reported by the ACCC. In the last quarter ended December 31, there were 17 test services operating, including two with a new unknown entrant.
NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow today said he could only “presume” there still isn’t enough demand among consumers to make a 1Gbps service commercially attractive.
“We have roughly a million and a half homes that can have the technology to give a 1Gbps capability today,” he said.
“We have a product that we can offer the retailers should they want to sell it. A couple of retailers have signed up to our trial base where they’re looking at what a 1Gbps service might look like but they have chosen not to offer it consumers.
“I presume there isn’t that big a demand out there for them to actually develop a product to sell to those end users.”
Morrow said NBN Co had “scoured the planet” to talk to other carriers that had successfully launched 1Gbps products into the market, and that had secured end customer sales.
“We asked the question ‘has anyone actually used that amount of bandwidth?’ and the answer was unanimously no,” Morrow said.
“There aren’t that many applications that warrant much above the products that are being sold at NBN today.
“We know there are things on the horizon that are going to increase the need for demand. All of these could drive up consumer need, but we haven’t seen it as yet.”
Interest in gigabit services has been renewed in recent weeks after Telstra’s announcement that it would boost peak speeds in some CBD areas to 1Gbps.
However actual speeds in the 4G cells would be significantly lower, leading to questions over how realistic the service is as a fixed-line replacement, as Telstra has touted it.