NBN Co will receive a major boost to its take-up numbers in the crucial months leading up to the election after quietly receiving regulatory approval to open more partially-built areas to retail internet services.
The company has been granted formal approval to run a second phase of its 'early access' program, more than doubling the size of the scheme to encompass a total 147 fibre serving area modules (FSAMs).
The 82 FSAMs included in 'early access' phase two cover a total of 171,785 premises.
An analysis of the 82 FSAMs by iTnews shows that 30 of the areas will largely be declared ready to carry internet services this month or next.
Portions of these 30 already appear in the 'early access' tab of NBN Co's Ready For Service spreadsheet, despite regulatory approval only being received last week. The portions provide some idea of how complete these areas are.
It is presently unknown just how much of the remaining 52 FSAMs has been built.
The fact they have now been approved for 'early access', however, would suggest that many will appear on next month's Ready For Service plan for the first time, providing some visibility on how many premises have been passed and are serviceable.
If they had not been approved for 'early access', most would have stayed locked to retail internet services until between August 2013 and January 2014, when they met the conditions to be declared Ready For Service.
NBN Co floated the idea of a second phase of the 'early access' program to ISPs earlier this year.
The proposal required Telstra to modify a definition in its Migration Plan, which in turn required regulatory approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Telstra lodged the necessary paperwork in early April but the change was disputed by ISPs including Optus, iiNet and AAPT.
Around the same time, NBN Co revealed it was the driving force behind the otherwise ambiguous definition change, and that the change was required to allow the expansion of the 'early access' scheme.
The change received ACCC approval with little fanfare on May 15, and NBN Co has wasted little time in communicating the availability of new serviceable areas to its customers.
"RSPs [retail service providers] have been advised of those FDHs [fibre distribution hubs] which are ready for service following ACCC approval of the change to the Migration Plan," an NBN Co spokeswoman told iTnews.
The 30 FSAMs that already appear in the Ready For Service list are in:
- ACT: Crace
- NSW: Gosford, Sawtell, Coffs Harbour, Blacktown, Penrith, Lidcombe
- NT: Darwin
- QLD: Goodna, Aspley, Gulliver, Townsville
- SA: Onkaparinga
- TAS: Kingston, Hobart, Launceston, St Helens
- VIC: Bacchus Marsh, South Morang, Brunswick