NBN Co leaves door open for FTTdp in SAU

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NBN Co leaves door open for FTTdp in SAU

But pushes for no more quarterly updates.

NBN Co wants to vary the terms and conditions governing services supplied over the network to dump its quarterly updates and leave open the option of including fibre-to-the-distribution point technology.

Last week the network builder asked the ACCC to consider editing the terms of its special access undertaking (SAU) in light of changes to the network since the document was last approved in late 2013.

Today the ACCC revealed NBN Co wants to stop publishing quarterly updates on its one-year construction plan, as currently required under the SAU, and only provide its annual three-year construction plan update to internet service providers. NBN Co currently makes this data public.

NBN Co argued the one-year construction plan updates had become "redundant" given its monthly ready for service releases and its three-year construction plan.

It also argued that information contained in its rollout plans was "commercially sensitive" and therefore should only be provided to access seekers.

NBN Co and the ACCC spent two years going back-and-forth over the SAU before they settled on the current framework.

It was intended to provide technology flexibility given uncertainty over the network in the wake of the 2013 change of federal government. Then-ACCC chairm Rod Sims said at the time he didn't expect the SAU would need to be changed again.

However, despite the document's built-in technology neutrality, NBN Co is now pushing to specify the technologies included under the multi-technology mix network currently being rolled out.

It wants the SAU to expand the description of NBN services to explicitly refer to fibre-to-the-basement, fibre-to-the-node, and hybrid-fibre coaxial services.

It also wants the description to be flexible enough to incorporate fibre-to-the-distribution point - a technology NBN Co is only toying with at this stage - down the track.

The network builder said it was "premature" to specifically include FTTdp at the moment, but argued for the flexibility to incorporate new technology variants later on.

Fibre pundits have leapt on NBN Co's trials of FTTdp as a ray of hope after the Coalition ditched Labor's fibre-to-the-premise approach for a predominantly fibre-to-the-node rollout.

FTTdp sees fibre run to the front of a customer's premises, using an existing copper cable for the lead-in. It avoids the cost of an FTTN cabinet by using a distribution point unit for the fibre-to-copper connection, powered by the customer's premise.

NBN Co said the broader changes would align the SAU with the MTM model, and reflected the outcomes of "extensive consultation" it had undertaken with industry partners on the MTM technologies.

"Now is an appropriate time for NBN to update the SAU by way of a variation to incorporate the additional MTM technologies," NBN Co chief regulatory officer Caroline Lovell wrote [pdf].

The ACCC is taking submissions on NBN Co's proposal until August 26.

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