NBN still not sure about the state of Telstra's copper

There has only been 'limited opportunity' for the company to evaluate at scale the state of the copper network

As NBN prepares for the commercial launch of fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) services on the National Broadband Network, the company's updated corporate plan reveals significant uncertainty remains about the state of Telstra's copper network.

The new corporate plan was unveiled today. It revealed the National Broadband Network is expected to cost more than anticipated.

The copper network is key to the FTTN rollout. For FTTN, copper is used to deliver the 'last mile' connection to premises.

However, the corporate plan reveals that the "quality of this network is not fully known as there has been limited opportunity to evaluate the physical infrastructure at significant scale."

"However, it is known that there is significant work required to remove broadband blockers from the copper network," it adds.

If rehabilitating copper is "prohibitively high" in an area NBN "can choose alternatively technologies to reduce costs," the plan states.

FTTN is a key part of the Coalition government's vision of a 'multi-technology mix' network. Under Labor, fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) was to be used for the National Broadband Network fixed line rollout.

Along with FTTP and FTTN, the MTM National Broadband Network will also use hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) and fibre-to-the-building (FTTB).

NBN engaged in a protracted series of negotiations with Telstra in order to strike revised Definitive Agreements that would allow the incorporation of HFC and FTTN into the network. The new DAs were signed in December last year.

Under the revised agreements, NBN will take progressive ownership of elements of Telstra's HFC and copper networks.

FTTN services will be launched within weeks, NBN CEO Bill Morrow revealed today.

The corporate plan projects 500,000 premises will be able to order FTTN services in FY16, growing to 2.04 million in FY17 and 3.75 million in FY 18.

By the end of the rollout, projected to be in 2020, FTTN and FTTB are expected to comprise 38 per cent of all National Broadband Network connections.

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