NBN costs 'thousands less' than today's fibre: Quigley

Many factors affect perceived network performance

At the launch of the next trial site of the National Broadband Network in Kiama, NSW today, NBN Co chief Mike Quigley said concerns about pricing for Internet access are unfounded as fibre connections cost “thousands” already.

This month ISPs Internode and Exetel released proposed retail pricing details for their respective NBN services with a basic Internet and phone service costing between $30 and $60 per month.

At the Kiama launch Quigley and communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy both defended the NBN access pricing, saying it is both a lot less than existing fibre services and that retail competition will drive down costs.

“A 100Mbps download and 40Mbps upload fibre link costs literally thousands today,” Quigley said, adding “you can’t get that service from HFC”.

Responding to concerns about whether the real NBN speeds may differ from those being advertised, Quigley said there are many factors that affect the perceived network performance.

“You can have situations where servers, the backhaul, an old PC or Wi-Fi modem could slow performance, but the network is capable of 100Mpbs peak speed,” he said.

The Kiama “First Release Site” is now connecting the first premises on the east coast to the NBN. The fibre network in the Kiama Downs and Minnamurra areas covers some 2350 premises, with residents in 80 per cent of properties having consented to the connection of a line during construction to make them “NBN ready”.

So far 10 test users have been connected to the service and the trial phase will run until October. Around Australia about 100 test users on the mainland have been connected to the NBN, according to NBN Co.

This launch event comes two months after Prime Minister Julia Gillard officially opened the NBN in the city of Armidale, NSW.

Speaking at the launch event, Senator Conroy said retail competition will result in price reductions and reaffirmed the fibre footprint to premises will be 100 per cent as Telstra’s copper network is decommissioned.

Will people subscribe to the NBN? Quigley said: “Our expectation is that as people see the value of the NBN as we retire the ageing copper and replace it with fibre more people will move to it.”

According to NBN Co, one of the reasons the Kiama area was chosen because of the challenge it poses for deploying fibre infrastructure due to the high level of Basalt volcanic rock in the ground.

Locals also say Kiama is a black spot when it comes to mobile service coverage as well, but Quigley fended off suggestions the NBN Co would offer wholesale mobile services in addition to fibre.

“We are fixed line and we are not part of that [mobile] and expect people to have both mobile and fixed services,” he said.

Quigley also took the opportunity to refute claims the NBN Co had been hacked in light of this week’s apparent attack on Platform Networks, an NBN retail service provider.

“Platform Networks is one of the RSPs and allegedly their network was hacked, but ours was not,” he said. “But security is very important and we have appointed a CSO and take this issue very seriously.”

The start dates for the NBN in NSW, Victoria and Queensland are expected to be announced soon.

Follow Rodney Gedda on Twitter: @rodneygedda

Follow TechWorld Australia on Twitter: @Techworld_AU

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