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NBN Co welcomes greenfield estates

NBN Co welcomes greenfield estates

Floodgates opened for submissions from developers

NBN Co has called on housing developers to apply for fibre installation at housing estates of over 100 premises, with deployment of the technology expected to commence from the end of February.

NBN Co chief executive, Mike Quigley, confirmed the National Broadband Network (NBN) wholesale operator had receive 70 applications since the company assumed responsibilities as fibre operator of last resort on 1 January 2011. Some 40 applications were received on New Year's Day alone.

A further 2000 applications are expected to be received during January, covering approximately 70,000 premises, which will be assessed and processed by next month.

A tender for fibre providers will close next week on 14 January. An initial statement from communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, stated a panel of providers would be established but in a press conference calling for developers, Quigley couldn’t guarantee how providers would be selected.

Fibre rollout at eligible estates will occur in tandem with NBN Co’s wider rollout, which currently includes 19 mainland trial sites similarly covering 70,000 premises.

In order to be eligible, housing estates must contain over 100 premises and provide “pit and pipe” infrastructure or ready conduits and pipes for deployment of fibre. Developers are free to choose an alternative fibre provider other than those selected by NBN Co, but will be liable for costs of installation.

Estates of under 100 premises — approximately half of the greenfield market, according to NBN Co — will likely receive copper wiring from Telstra, which remains provider of last resort for smaller estates. Quigley said fibre provision to ineligible greenfields would fall under the standard rollout timetable.

NBN Co has provided specifications for the infrastructure required for fibre deployment, but is yet to recommend suitable conduits and pits for installation, instead providing “generic dimensions” to developers.

Quigley said he didn’t the company would not buckle under influx of submissions.

“We’re trying to make sure we keep this process as straightforward and simple as possible for the developers and we’ve been working very closely with them for some time,” he said. “I think it’s fair to say they’re pretty happy with the outcome and the way this will be carried out.

“We don’t yet have a network out there, so this is not an easy job to do.”

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