NBN Co has denied its plan to open 82 partially-built fibre areas to retail service providers will favour Telstra over other ISPs.
The network builder is attempting to create a second phase for its 'early access program', which allows retail internet services to be sold in portions of fibre serving area modules (FSAMs) that are still under construction.
NBN Co is pursuing the expansion of the 'early access program' as it seeks to boost the number of retail subscribers on the network in the lead-up to the September election.
Analysis by iTnews this week confirmed a number of the 82 FSAMs are adjacent to areas already experiencing high take-up rates for NBN services.
The plan requires regulatory approval but is in doubt over concerns raised by iiNet, Optus and AAPT late last week.
AAPT said it was concerned the plan favoured Telstra over other access seekers. Though one of AAPT's concerns was the lack of notice, it said more broadly smaller players may simply be unable to justify the overhead costs of entering all the new areas to service only a portion of premises.
NBN Co denied its plan amounted to "discriminatory conduct ... in favour of Telstra".
"While NBN Co recognises that some Access Seekers may choose not to take advantage of the early release of some, or all, of the additional 82 FSAMs, this will be a consequence of the commercial decisions of individual Access Seekers," the company said. (pdf)
NBN Co also argued that AAPT and others have had plenty of time to gear up to sell into the 82 FSAMs.
It sent ISPs an "account bulletin" on February 19 noting an expansion of the program was "being considered" and listing the proposed FSAMs.
NBN Co also sought to allay the concerns of Optus and iiNet, both of which said they did not understand the rationale for an ambiguous alteration to regulatory documents that is required in order for the program's expansion to proceed.
NBN Co said without the alteration, it would not be able to open any part of the FSAM to ISPs until construction in the area is 90 percent complete.
Update 25/4: This story originally stated that opening any partially-built FSAM would trigger the 18-month countdown for the disconnection of copper services in that area, and that if NBN Co succeeds in having the 82 FSAMs declared Initial Release Rollout Regions (IRRRs), the company could arbitrarily set the disconnection commencement date, rather than have it trigger automatically when the area starts servicing retail customers. This was incorrect.
Regardless of whether or not an FSAM is declared an IRRR, NBN Co must wait for the 90 percent trigger before it can set the disconnection commencement date.