The government has moved to allow the telecommunications industry to regulate interference issues potentially caused by the deployment of so-called 'next-generation' broadband technologies that rely on copper twisted pair cables.
The government today released an exposure draft of the Telecommunications Amendment Regulation 2015 (No. 1), which will enable industry body Communications Alliance to make a code governing the deployment of technologies such as VDSL2 and G.fast.
Such a code can be registered with the Australian Communications and Media Authority, allowing the ACMA to enforce it.
The introduction of an enforceable industry code is intended to counter potential technical problems where multiple providers want to deliver copper-based services such as VDSL2 in the same multi-dwelling unit (such as an apartment block).
Interference between competing services delivered over copper lines in a single cable sheath can reduce performance.
In addition, there is potential for interference between services such as VDSL2 and older copper-based broadband technologies such as ADSL.
Current codes designed to deal with interference don't cover technologies such as VDSL2.
The draft regulation defines the 'next-generation broadband services' it covers as VDSL, VDSL2 (with or without vectoring), G.fast or any service "that uses a successor technology to any other next-generation broadband service".
"The need for industry to be able to manage interference is required because VDSL2 deployments are proceeding without coordination," a regulation impact statement accompanying the exposure draft states.
VDSL2 is often used in fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) and fibre-to-the-basement (FTTB) deployments.
FTTN and FTTB form part of the Coalition government's vision for a 'multi-technology mix' National Broadband Network.
A handful of companies are rolling out FTTB services; perhaps most notably NBN and TPG. Potentially, two providers could attempt to deploy services in the same buildings, which could lead to problems with crosstalk.
"At present, competing VDSL2 networks do not overlap, but inevitably as carriers seek to rollout new and improved systems, competing next-generation networks will overlap with other networks and in some cases may serve the same buildings," an explanatory note states.
"Some VDSL2 rollouts currently serve buildings that are already served by legacy ADSL or ADSL2+ services."
TPG's FTTB rollout, which had the potential to undercut the National Broadband Network, has already resulted in significant regulatory moves from government.
After the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) found that TPG's FTTB rollout didn't violate anti-cherry-picking rules designed to protect the NBN, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull introduced a temporary licence condition for network operators that forced them to open up 'super-fast broadband' services to competing service providers on a wholesale basis.
(TPG has established a separate retail provider, Wondercom, to offer FTTB services to end users.)
The ACCC is currently conducting an inquiry into regulating super-fast broadband services.
The government's consultation on the new draft regulation is accepting submissions until 30 July.