NBN Co to fast-track more users onto fibre

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NBN Co to fast-track more users onto fibre

Reveals plan to get more people connected.

NBN Co is hoping to fast-track users onto its fibre network by cutting down the wait time for a retail internet service.

The network builder is proposing to more than double the size of an existing program that allows retail services to be marketed to residents in fibre serving area modules (FSAMs) where construction is not yet complete.

An FSAM typically has between 2000 and 3000 premises.

NBN Co's rollout construct normally means waiting until infrastructure in an entire FSAM is complete before declaring it 'ready for service', at which time customers can take a retail connection.

But for residents in 65 FSAMs that fall under NBN Co's 'early access program', retail connections can be taken prior to the entire FSAM being declared 'ready'.

NBN Co now wants to expand that program to cover an additional 82 FSAMs.

It is unknown how many homes in these FSAMs are ready to immediately take up a retail NBN service.

If NBN Co succeeds in having the 82 FSAMs brought into the 'early access' scheme, the company could see a welcome boost to the number of active connections on its network.

NBN Co first flagged the expansion of its 'early access program' in February in a missive to its ISP customers, according to a regulatory filing (pdf) yesterday.

"The expansion of the Early Access program will allow NBN Co to bring forward the migration of endusers to the NBN fibre network," NBN Co wrote.

"This will promote the efficient use of NBN Co's fibre network and will also benefit service providers and end-users.

"More end-users will have the ability to connect to the NBN sooner and take advantage of its superior speed and functionality".

Expansion of the program requires Telstra to vary the migration plan it has submitted to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which it has already done. The program maps how copper users will be moved to NBN fibre.

The push to ramp up the number of active connections on the network comes at a politically-sensitive time for the NBN project in the lead-up to this year's federal election.

NBN Co surpassed 10,000 active fibre connections on its network at the end of last year.

It had previously said take-up rates in NBN service areas were typically between 15 percent and 40 percent of that 'service-ready' area.

Critics of the current NBN construct, such as Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull, say the number of active connections is the "most relevant" benchmark for how the network is tracking.

The federal Opposition is currently shopping its own plan for the NBN, which it hopes to implement should it be brought to power in September.

A full list of the 82 FSAMs that NBN Co hopes to open for 'early access' can be found here.

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