The Tasmanian government has committed to offering NBN Co free access to Aurora Energy's power poles as a last-ditch attempt to get fibre rolled out to the state’s citizens.
The Labor government under Premier Lara Giddings first flagged the option of deploying fibre optic cables on power poles to get the NBN rollout in Tasmania back on track in November last year, after rollout issues with NBN contractor Visionstream.
Power pole owner Aurora Energy prepared a brief on the proposal for the federal government - based on an aerial cabling plan it first devised in 2009 - which was “well received” by NBN Co in February.
The Tasmanian government was further compelled to act after the Coalition cut 41,900 premises from the planned FTTP footprint in Tasmania, reigniting fears Tasmanian would not be fully served by fibre as initially planned.
Its fears were confirmed last week when NBN Co boss Ziggy Switkowski said the network builder’s contract with Visionstream in the state did not specify the type of technology to be used in the NBN rollout, and would therefore involve the Coalition’s preferred multi-technology model over fibre alone.
Giddings this morning pledged to allow NBN Co free access to Aurora’s power poles under her party’s ‘Technology to Drive Tasmania’s Future’ policy. The poles would otherwise generate revenue of $25 million over 20 years, she said in a statement.
“This is a small price to pay if it means Tasmanian homes can be connected to optic fibre as originally promised by the Coalition.”
She said the proposal would result in cheaper fibre rollout costs for NBN Co - $65 per metre on poles compared to around $400 per metre in the ground.
The Tasmanian government is headed for a state election in March. The opposition Liberal party is understood to back Giddings’ proposal.