The nation's second-largest telco, Optus, is still considering whether to provide retail fibre to the home services over the Tasmanian leg of the fledgling National Broadband Network, despite its biggest rival Telstra joining the party.
Telstra announced plans to hold a three-month free trial of fibre services in Tasmania. It will sign up up to 100 customers and won't charge them for the duration of the trial, which will last from October to the end of the year.
Telstra’s participation brings the number of broadband providers using the Tasmanian NBN to five, with most of Australia's other major ISPs — iiNet, Primus, Internode and Exetel — also involved. Optus, however, is yet to get its feet wet.
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"We're continuing to evaluate offering retail services over the Tasmanian NBN," a spokesperson for the SingTel subsidiary said via email. "We remain very supportive of the NBN and it is our intention to be a major customer of the network as it is rolled out in the future."
TPG Telecom is another major ISP which has not yet signed up to the NBN in Tasmania. The company did, however, provide a hint of where its intentions regarding the NBN may lie in a financial results presentation, noting it saw opportunity for growth in regional areas, where the NBN will be rolled out first following Labor's deal with several independents.
NBN Co has not yet outlined what the consequences of the regional rollout will be for its schedule, although some sections of the industry — notably, NBN critic and Pipe Networks co-founder Bevan Slattery — expect the regional focus to change NBN Co's focus to wireless solutions in the near term.
So far, NBN Tasmania has laid more than 200km of optic fibre around Tasmania — employing more than 200 people during the project to do so. Hundreds of service orders have been received by local customers to date, and over half of residents in the target towns of Midway Point, Smithton and Scottsdale have signed up for the NBN.