NBN Co has revealed it will provide the passive fibre, active electronics and cabinets to any company it subcontracts to help meet a mandate for the deployment of fibre in new housing estates.
The next-generation network builder will also bankroll any backhaul that needs to be deployed between the new housing estate and a point of presence (PoP) that allows retail service provider interconnection.
The free kit and backhaul funding was a coup for private fibre network builders who could benefit from NBN Co subcontracts as early as this month.
NBN Co assumed responsibility for installing fibre in all new housing estates over 100 premises on January 1.
It will set up a panel of incumbent fibre builders – expected to include the likes of OptiComm and OPENetworks – to help it meet the obligations.
"NBN Co may use whatever operational arrangements it chooses to service new developments, including sub-contracting and build-operate-transfer arrangements," Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said last year.
"NBN Co will establish a panel of appropriately qualified and experienced providers who can bid to install fibre on its behalf."
A tender calling for panelist submissions closes this Friday. The first services in greenfields estates were expected to be active by the end of the first quarter.
NBN Co has already begun accepting applications from new housing developers for fibre infrastructure.
It received 70 applications in the first week, including 40 on New Years Day alone, according to NBN Co chief Mike Quigley.
NBN Co also expected to inherit the telecommunications obligations for another 2,000 existing development applications this month, Quigley said.
The company said it planned to pass 172,000 premises "and provide and establish an active connection to some 132,000 premises in Greenfield estates by June 2012".
NBN Co has set up a new website to take registrations from housing estate developers.
The site has a dual purpose of issuing the developers with a "pre-compliance certificate" for their telecommunications infrastructure – which is the paperwork necessary to gain final development approval from local councils.
Responsibility for issuing that compliance certificate typically fell to Telstra in the past.
There was no set amount of money per premise that NBN Co would pay a sub-contracted third party. Although figures up to $3,000 per lot had been bandied about in discussions among members of the Greenfield stakeholder reference group at times, these estimates appear to have been dumped.
The bidding process from panelists was instead expected to keep the cost per lot down – and sub-contractors' costs would also be reduced by the amount of kit provided to them by NBN Co.
What third-party network builders get
NBN Co would provide all passive fibre, active electronics and cabinets to sub-contractors, who would not be allowed to use their own sourcing arrangements.
This approach was being taken to prevent NBN Co inheriting a network that contained a patchwork of different technologies.
Sub-contractors would also not be left to fund backhaul links (called 'distribution' in NBN Co parlance) between the housing estate and the nearest 'exchange' – or other point-of-presence where retail internet service providers could interconnect.
"NBN Co will pay," NBN Co's greenfields director Archie Wilson told iTnews.
The sub-contracted third-party builder would be required to cut over the distribution link to NBN Co in the future.
Existing private estates
NBN Co has also begun working on interfaces between its network and existing fibre estates serviced by third-party operators such as Opticomm, OPENetworks and Pivit.
In the longer term, the company said it would look at the network architecture of these estates to decide how best to integrate them into the national broadband network.