NBN Co have struck a $150M deal with Telstra for the planning, design and construction of a thousand node pilot across Queensland and New South Wales. The announcement comes ahead of the anticipated large scale integration of Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) technology into the National Broadband Network (NBN).

FTTN marries fibre optic cables with Telstra’s copper lines in a streetside node cabinet to deliver fast broadband to homes and businesses.

The areas covered by the pilot are parts of:

QLD Bribie Island,  Warner and Caboolture in the Moreton Bay region; and
Bundaberg and Gympie in the Wide Bay-Burnett region
NSW Belmont, Boolaroo, Morisset and Hamilton in the Hunter Region; and
Gorokan on the Central Coast.

NBN Co will also expand its FTTN build pilot activity in Woy Woy on the NSW Central Coast.

NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow said:

“This is a progressive step in the evolution of the NBN. It shows we are determined to get on with the job of delivering fast and reliable broadband to Australians while wider negotiations with Telstra continue.

“The extensive pilot program we’re announcing today 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.”

Mr. Morrow said the agreement between the two companies is intended to leverage Telstra’s expert design knowledge of its copper network combined with NBN Co’s own skills and resources as well as those of the Australian construction industry.

The cost of the trial activities will be funded from within NBN Co’s peak funding envelope approved by the Federal Government.

Talks between the two companies regarding the renegotiation of the Definitive Agreements, including access to Telstra’s copper to support FTTN-based services, are ongoing and progressing well.

NBN Co is also working with the telecommunications industry to develop an FTTN product set.

Today’s agreement represents the second phase of FTTN build activity. The first phase involved the construction of small scale FTTN sites in Umina in the Central Coast in NSW and Epping in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. NBN Co plans to expand its FTTN build pilot activity in Umina.

Michelle Goldsmith

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