Fibre-to-the-building: NBN Co eyes Q1 2015 FTTB launch

NBN Co reveals FTTB timing

NBN Co, the company in charge of overseeing the rollout of the National Broadband Network, has released an updated product roadmap that details for the first time an estimated time frame for offering fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) services.

FTTB involves running fibre to multi-tenanted building then using existing copper wiring within the building to deliver broadband services.

The roadmap, available from NBN Co's website (PDF) projects FTTB business readiness testing in Q4 2014 and commencing RSP on-boarding and initial release of NBN FTTB services in Q1 2015. A VDSL sandpit will also be available for RSPs in Q4 2014, the roadmap reveals. FTTB services were originally anticipated to begin in October this year.

An NBN Co spokesperson said the organisation is continuing its FTTB pilot in Melbourne and "currently in the process of measuring and recording the customer experience of the homes and businesses who have signed-up."

NBN Co has previously revealed it was undertaking FTTB trials in conjunction with iiNet, M2, Optus and Telstra in eight high-rise buildings in Victoria's capital. NBN Co says that testing of FTTB technology has produced download speeds exceeding 100 megabits per second, and upload speeds greater than 40Mbps.

The government-owned company announced in April it would accelerate the rollout of FTTB services as a commercial response to Internet service provider TPG, which had begun rolling out its own fibre to buildings in Pyrmont, Ultimo and the CBD in Sydney; Southbank, Docklands and the CBD in Melbourne; and Fortitude Valley and the CBD in Brisbane.

TPG FTTB infrastructure could potentially reach 500,000 premises, threatening to undermine the business case for the NBN by 'cherry picking' profitable areas to rollout fibre.

NBN Co is preparing to roll fibre out to high-density inner-city apartment blocks and commercial buildings in response to TPG's FTTB rollout, the company revealed today.

The economics of NBN could be "severely impacted" by infrastructure-based competition NBN Co chairman Ziggy Switkowski has warned. However TPG has argued that infrastructure-based competition will deliver "the best outcome to end users".

An NBN spokesperson said adding FTTB to the roadmap "continues our progress in delivering the NBN faster and more affordably by using a variety of technologies".

NBN Co is yet to reveal any details of the release of fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) products of HFC. Both technologies are likely to form an ongoing part of the NBN rollout, with the Coalition government ditching a majority fibre-to-the-premises network in favour of a 'multi-technology mix'.

Last month NBN Co revealed details of a deal with Telstra for an expanded FTTN trial.

The agreement for a 1000-node deployment of FTTN technology will "deliver valuable insights into how to build a sustainable and consistent program of work that allows the industry to ramp up and deploy the FTTN element of the NBN at scale," NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow said at the time.

The updated NBN roadmap also incorporates a number of new non-FTTB-related items, including an industry consultation on the fraught issue of CVC pricing this month, and a cell site access service, which will connect cell sites to the NBN Points of Interconnect, in Q1 2015.

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