Internode, Exetel to offer services in Point Cook trial

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Internode, Exetel to offer services in Point Cook trial

Breakthrough in negotiations.

Internode has cut a deal with Telstra to offer its broadband services to 1,500 homes covered by the incumbent's Point Cook fibre trial after securing favourable contract terms.

Managing director Simon Hackett told iTnews that Internode was "waiting for executable contracts to sign so we can get on with" participating in the network trial.

"We expect to be formally engaged with them shortly to get started on our trial involvement," he said.

The agreement was reached less than a fortnight after Internode hit a wall in its negotiations with Telstra to become a retail service provider in the trial.

Hackett had voiced concerns to iTnews and to the Whirlpool forums about Telstra's failure to guarantee open access to wholesale services for the fibre network after the trial period expired.

That meant Internode had "no way to guarantee that our customers can gain continued access to broadband from Internode at the end of the trial period", Hackett had said.

News of the breakthrough came as it emerged that ISP Exetel would also offer retail services on the Point Cook trial network.

Chief executive John Linton told iTnews that Exetel "didn't ask for any changes" when it cut its own deal with Telstra Wholesale.

"The 'deal' we have is what was in their draft contract," Linton said.

He said the wholesale pricing offered by Telstra couldn't be discussed because it was protected by a confidentiality clause in the contract.

However, it appeared that Telstra was offering uniform wholesale prices to all ISP participants.

"In the documentation I briefly looked at there didn't appear to be any scope for 'volume discounts'," Linton said.

While he believed it "highly unlikely" that Exetel would sell very many services to residents in the trial, Linton revealed Exetel's participation was part of a broader strategy to test the readiness and resiliency of the Exetel business to run on next-generation broadband infrastructure.

"Our interest is in seeing if its possible to build a more balanced commercial relationship with Telstra Wholesale and to determine what (if any) differences/problems there are in inter-connecting Telstra fibre end users via the in-place links we currently use in Melbourne for Telstra infrastructure ADSL1 customers," Linton said.

"[More widely], our purpose in participating in the Tasmanian NBN trials, the Telstra trials and the Opticomm limited coverage roll outs is to determine whether we can offer our residential and small business customers an alternative in the future to ADSL based services.

"Unless something catastrophic happens in the Federal [Government's] fight with Telstra then ADSL is a dying technology. If we want to continue to provide our residential customers with cost effective services we need to plan in advance to make sure we give them a viable and attractive option."

Telstra's trial fibre network in Point Cook replaced pair gain systems that had seen the area become a known "broadband blackspot".

Customer connections to the fibre network were expected to start this month.

The success of the trial was being watched closely by NBN Co. It was the only test site for a remote integrated multiplexer (RIM)-to-fibre transition.

The five mainland NBN Co test sites were not specifically testing the replacement of pair gain systems with fibre.

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