NBN Co to set up Greenfields fibre panel

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NBN Co to set up Greenfields fibre panel

Incumbent operators win clarity.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has ended months of uncertainty over the Government's mandate of fibre in new housing estates from January 1, revealing NBN Co will assemble a panel of incumbent fibre builders to deploy fibre in almost all greenfields developments.

The announcement was a major coup for incumbent greenfields network builders like OptiComm, OPENetworks, Pivit and ComVerge, who had battled for months to have NBN Co's proposed role in new housing estates properly defined.

iTnews reported in late June that NBN Co would actively pursue deals with housing developers to deploy fibre in greenfields estates from next year - not just deploy fibre in estates where the private sector is unwilling to invest.

The move was lampooned by the private sector network builders that serviced greenfields developments, leaving several to re-evaluate business models and carrier licenses.

A number of incumbents - barring OptiComm - formed a lobby group to try and force clarity on the issue.

The Government finally revealed its plans overnight.

"From 1 January 2011, NBN Co will be responsible for the installation of fibre in all broadacre developments, all infill developments where it has fibre that is ready for service and capable of connection, and newly approved infill developments of 100 or more premises," Conroy said.

"NBN Co may use whatever operational arrangements it chooses to service new developments, including sub-contracting and build-operate-transfer arrangements.

"NBN Co will establish a panel of appropriately qualified and experienced providers who can bid to install fibre on its behalf."

Conroy said there were no exclusive arrangements and that housing developers were free to choose any network builder in the market to service their estate.

Developers were required to dig their own fibre-ready ducts in the estates.

Conroy also revealed Telstra would maintain a limited role in "infill developments of less than 100 premises".

These were understood to refer to developments where new dwellings were built adjacent to or around existing structures on a piece of land. For example, a new townhouse development located behind an existing house.

"Telstra will largely be using copper infrastructure to provide interim solutions in these developments, pending NBN Co rolling out its network," Conroy said.

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