NBN Co plans to roll out a national network of 'sandpits' where prospective access seekers can test their products and services on a quarantined section of the national broadband network.
The sandpits were first revealed in an access seeker accreditation information paper [pdf] by NBN Co at the end of last year.
"The sandpits will enable access seekers to test their configuration and products with the NBN Co fibre access service architecture prior to formal certification with NBN Co," the paper said.
"It's about ensuring your products sit on top of ours correctly," NBN Co's national test facility general manager Peter Girvan said at a customer roadshow event.
The sandpits were part of what NBN Co called "pre-certification" tests that it required access seekers to perform before seeking formal accreditation to run services across the national broadband network.
Girvan said NBN Co planned to offer sandpits to test fibre connections and the company's business and operations support systems (BSS/OSS).
He said that the sandpits were "production nodes in our production network."
"They're quarantined but managed by our operations staff," he said. "Anything you do in our sandpits won't impact our production network."
Although sandpits were to be initially co-located within the temporary points-of-interconnection (PoIs) servicing first-release NBN sites such as Willunga and Kiama Downs, the plan was to roll them out much more broadly.
"The long-term scenario is that we intend to have a sandpit in every state," Girvan said.
Girvan's assurance of those expansion plans was in part related to fears by smaller access seekers of prohibitive costs in connecting to the sandpits.
NBN Co said last year that access seekers would be "responsible for all connectivity from the sandpit to their premises, for both the Network-to-Network interface and the Passive Optical Network ends of the sandpit."
iTnews has been told that NBN Co has first-release POIs located at the Global Switch data centre in Sydney and in Nextgen Networks' facilities in Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Access seekers would be given the option of whether they used the sandpits or their own internal laboratory facilities for pre-certification testing purposes.
Proper certification tests would be conducted out of NBN Co's national test facility at Docklands, Melbourne.