Pipe warns NBN Co off mobile backhaul turf

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Pipe warns NBN Co off mobile backhaul turf

Move would send 'negative signals'.

Pipe Networks is warning NBN Co to stay off its turf after suggestions the taxpayer-funded network is considering becoming involved in mobile backhaul.

The TPG-owned fibre operator issued a rebuke of the mobile backhaul proposal, briefly outlined in the Joint Committee on the NBN's fourth review report, released in late February.

NBN Co told the committee it had been approached by mobile carriers and was "considering these requests and evaluating whether to develop products suitable for use as mobile backhaul".

Pipe — which has an existing business providing backhaul to mobile towers such as those owned by Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) — argued such market intervention would send negative investment signals to existing operators.

"Intervention into this market by a taxpayer funded entity such as NBN Co will reduce network extension by existing and emerging private fibre operators to the detriment of the industry, the market and end-users," Pipe said in a submission to the committee (pdf).

Pipe is concerned about a broader recommendation in the committee's fourth review report that further consideration be given to opening NBN infrastructure to mobile carriers "to improve mobile telephone services and coverage across Australia, particularly in regional and remote areas".

"Allowing private providers to 'piggyback' off of NBN Co infrastructure to provide mobile telephone services would be a timely and efficient use of telecommunications resources in regional and remote Australia," the committee has said.

The committee was not prescriptive about what piggybacking would be possible, other than to mention the possibility of co-location of other carriers' antennas on NBN towers.

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