Those familiar with NBN Co's processes told iTnews it would be possible, but difficult, to provide a fibre extension to homes lying just outside of the planned network boundary for under $10,000.
The FoI determination reveals NBN Co developed no formal documentation for the way it generated quotes given to the eight Tasmanian residents.
NBN Co said it instead used a "quoting tool - combined with information from commercially negotiated agreements – to calculate" the prices, including the one that has been withheld.
A summary of the quote method provided to iTnews shows NBN Co and third party contractors attempted to determine the technical viability of a fibre extension to a single house or community based on:
- Distance from the nearest fibre distribution splitter
- Safety and environmental factors, and
- Required approvals for access to property and infrastructure.
Any resulting quote would involve the total cost of new infrastructure, materials, services and processes carried out to develop and install the extended fibre cable, including third party costs.
"Each quote was based on the exact location of the premise requesting the extension," according to the quote method summary provided by NBN Co.
Sources said the biggest factor determining a fibre extension would be the cost of installation and ongoing infrastructure rental.
Most of the quotes would likely be technically feasible using aerial - rather than underground - cabling in the Tasmanian sites included in the feasibility trial.
A single "fibre split" from a nearby fibre distribution hub could be extended by up to 20 kilometres without signal degradation.
Materials, too, would remain cheap and likely already covered within existing supply contracts negotiated by NBN Co.
"It's the installation costs that is the key, and the ongoing rental cost of the space. I don't know what they would negotiate with [Tasmanian utility Aurora Energy] on that," one source said.
"If it wasn't in a fibre footprint areas, it's basically going to be a bespoke build so they're going to charge actuals plus a margin, I'd imagine, which could get quite expensive. Think about trucks going down the street with cherry pickers, having to put up aerial cabling and then you've got to get access to the poles and rental of the poles, it starts heading up quite considerably to run a single fibre."
Based on the information available, including the technical feasibility of rolling out fibre in distances up to 20km, it appears many of the quotes delivered to Tasmanian residents are likely to have been rejected by the residents based on the high cost of the extension.
An NBN Co spokeswoman said some of the eight residents involved in the trial rejected the quote once they were educated about the speed and capability of the fixed wireless connections they would otherwise receive.
Read on to page three as NBN Co caves under pressure to formalise its fibre extension policy.