Telstra confirms it will open up greenfield access

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Telstra confirms it will open up greenfield access

Wants USO relief in return.

Telstra has made a commitment to the Federal Government that it will open up access to the Velocity fibre networks it is rolling into new housing estates.

Telstra's policy on greenfield estates to date - in which it refuses to offer third party access to its fibre network, nor provide fibre services in any estate where competitors offer third party access, has been the subject of a month long investigation by iTnews.

In a submission to the 'Fibre to the Premises in Greenfield Estates' consultation paper released by the Federal Government overnight, Telstra promised to comply with industry demands for an open access network.

"To facilitate competition and efficient network architecture, we recommend that pit and pipe and other physical infrastructure should be designed to support multiple providers of fibre," the carrier said.

The submission said Telstra was "willing to offer its standard wholesale broadband services" over its fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) Velocity platform "should there be sufficient demand from access seekers."

The submission did not quantify what it deemed "sufficient demand" nor did it define whether a "standard wholesale broadband service" would be an equivalent service to the velocity FTTP product it offers.

The submission stated that Telstra would require six to nine months lead time to develop and launch a wholesale broadband offering for its fibre network.

In return, Telstra's submission called for the carrier to be spared from its universal service obligation (USO) when it opens up its fibre network to third party access.

Currently, Telstra can apply from an exemption from the obligation in greenfields estates. It also met USO obligations in some cases by providing residents with a "fixed phone" that ran off the Next G network instead. This was billed at fixed line rates.

"It no longer makes sense to impose the universal service obligation on Telstra where there are other active wholesale and retail providers using the particular network," the submission said.

"The provider of last resort obligation should clearly and specifically lie with the parties supplying services in the particular estate."

Telstra also asked that competition watchdog the ACCC provide the earliest possible advice on its competition and pricing principles for greenfield estates should they differ from the current regime.

"It would otherwise be impossible for carriers to bid for developer FTTP tenders if there was uncertainty on the amount of return that they would receive for wholesale (and retail) service provision," Telstra's submission said.

Telstra's greenfield credentials

Telstra said it provided infrastructure for 90,000 greenfield building lots and 90,000 redevelopments ever year, but only rolls FTTP into one tenth of these new premises, the rest being served by copper.

As of mid-June, the carrier said it estimated there were 170,000 lots contracted for FTTP deployment industry wide, with 18,000 lots passed for FTTP infrastructure.

Telstra has approximately two thirds of those passed lots signed up to the Velocity service, with 6600 currently under construction and 2800 active services online.

Telstra said its strength in greenfield estates was in part due to "mandated requirement to install infrastructure as provided by the universal service obligation" which gives housing developers "a single point of contact provisioning function."

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