TPG presence won't stop NBN Co installing FTTB equipment

NBN Co ready for a battle of the basements with TPG

NBN Co will be willing to deploy its equipment in the basements of apartment blocks — so-called multi-dwelling units (or MDUs) — even if rival infrastructure is already in place, an executive of the government-owned company said today at a Senate Estimates hearing.

"We would expect at some point we would enter into an MDU that may have a competing technology set and we would still intend to deploy," NBN Co's chief customer officer, John Simon, told the hearing.

Simon said there were a range of options to ensure adequate speeds were delivered to end users if there was competing equipment installed in a building.

NBN Co intends to roll out fibre-to-the-basement services as a commercial response to TPG's rollout of its own FTTB infrastructure in apartment blocks.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission confirmed earlier this year that TPG's move to offer new FTTB services did not run afoul of regulations designed to protect NBN Co's business model.

"We're focussing in those [geographic] areas that have higher penetration of MDUs," Simon said.

"We also know that there's a higher ARPU [average revenue per user] that's associated with those end users and we're bringing forward the rollout into those areas to make sure that we're able to both a commercially compete with what else is out there but also more importantly ensure that we provide access to our customers, the RSPS [retail service providers], who want to go and provide [services to those MDUs]."

NBN Co has already hooked up 12 MDUs as part of a trial. However, that trial involved running fibre to each apartment, Simon said. Moving forward NBN Co will be using the existing copper in apartment blocks to deliver the 'last mile' connection.

Simon said that NBN Co will be aiming to connect at least 20 MDUs each month "in the near term".

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In the MDUs that NBN Co has so far hooked up the take-up rate of services has been above average, Simon said. On average the take-up rate has been around 6 per cent in the first month, as opposed to an average monthly take-up of 4-5 per cent for NBN services.

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