Friday, April 23, 2010

New Zealand Rural Broadband Initiative

The New Zealand Ministry of Economic Development has issued an Expression of Interest for a Rural Broadband Initiative. (Reference: 29498). This appears a more modest project than the Australian Government's National Broadband Network. It concentrates on broadband for rural communities and schools.
Companies can download a an Expression of Interest document (MS-Word format 368kb) and a Schools List (Excel spreadsheet 284kb).
The Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) will use a two-stage process, involving an Expression of Interest (EOI) followed by a Request for Proposals (RFP) stage.

2. A two-stage approach is being used to enable the Government to gather more information so that it can make more informed decisions (e.g. about prioritising regions, minimum open access requirements, service specifications, what is likely to be possible within existing budget etc) when finalising the RFP.

3. Following the assessment of EOIs, an RFP will be released detailing the Government’s requirements.

The RFP will specify:

a. The regions for which bids are being sought in the first year of the RBI (noting that national bids will also be considered).
b. The intended scope of the proposed initiative.
c. The minimum service level requirements.
d. The minimum level of open access required.
e. Standards and interconnection requirements.
f. The criteria upon which bids will be assessed.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

NBN Wholesale Services Definition

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

NBN Passive optical network

NBN Co diagram of Fibre Serving Area, Indicative Access InfrastructureNBN Co, who have the job of building the National Broadband Network for Australia, plan to use a passive optical network, in particular GPON or ITU-T G.984. This reduces the amount of electronics needed in the network, reducing the cost and increasing the reliability. It also allows the speed of the network to be increased by replacing relatively few electronic components and not changing the optical fibre. In addition it reduces the number of fibres which have to be run long distances.

The passive optical network uses optical splitters to divide the signal on one optical fibre so it can be distributed to several dozen homes (up to about 100). Each home gets the signals sent to all homes, so encryption has to be used for privacy. Data sent from the homes is sent with a multiple access protocol,, with each sharing some of the fibre capacity.

It is not clear from the planning documents, but hopefully multicasting will be supported by the passive part of the network. That is for sending the same data to many people, for example for digital TV, the one optical signal will be sent to all houses, rather than sending multiple copies of the same thing to each house.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Rail and broadband in place of second Sydney airport

A very high speed train from Sydney, through Canberra, to Melbourne would replace about 75% of flights on one of the worlds busiest air corridors. This is not a new or unexplored idea, from a high speed rail line proposed in 1981, to a "East Coast Very High Speed Train Scoping Study" in 2008. But the mass production of very high speed trains in Asia, combined with advances in broadband and environmental pressures, makes it more feasible.

The Federal and New South Wales Governments are to conduct a joint study of options for additional airport capacity for Sydney. This follows a "National Aviation Policy White Paper" (16 December 2009). It should be noted that the paper is not just talking about an airport and mentions rail transport systems. I suggest that the study should look at a train in place of a second Sydney airport. A very high speed train from Sydney, through Canberra, to Melbourne would replace about 75% of flights on one of the worlds busiest air corridors. Provision of wireless broadband on the train would allow the passengers to do useful work and be entertained. In addition to passengers, a high speed train can also carry high high value freight, such as priority mail, currently sent by air.

Sydney airport already has two underground stations in place and a direct underground line to the Sydney CBD. Work would be needed on the rail corridor out of Sydney, but this is relatively minor, with work already underway for a rail freight corridor.

Very fast trains are now a proven technology, with China and Korea mass producing adaptions of proven European designs.

The cost of the line from Sydney to Melbourne could be covered by the sale of land in new greenfield environmentally efficient towns in inland Australia. These towns would also reduce the growth pressure on Sydney (politically the new towns would be attractive to the current NSW and Federal governments as it would shift the voting trends to the ALP in previously conservative rural electorates). Integration of the National Broadband Network in the new towns would allow rapid provision of services and jobs to the new towns and reduce the cost of infrastructure.

New towns could be built along the VFT route incorporating high environmental and planning standards. Buildings could be designed to use the minimum of water and power, then assembled from mass produced modules. Homes could be designed to accommodate the elderly. Broadband could bring jobs, education and services to the towns quickly. Both government and commercial telecommuting offices could be provided allowing office works to telecommute most days and perhaps have to catch the train only once every few weeks. Each town could have a university campus, as well as a hospital with advanced medical facilities, linked by broadband to specalists.

The pressure on Sydney airport will also be reduced in coming years due to changes in the aircraft used and environmental pressures. The introduction of larger aircraft, specifically the Airbus A380, will reduce the number of international aircraft movements needed. Added to this the Boeing 787 (and Airbus A350) will allow more direct international flights from other Australian airports, reducing the need for Sydney to act as a hub. Added to this, the need for reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will increase pressure on airlines to have aircraft loaded to capacity to increase fuel efficiency. The requirement for passengers to pay the environmental cost of their travel will also dampen demand for flights.
Sydney is Australia’s biggest and busiest city and Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport is Australia’s busiest airport, with over 32 million passengers in 2008–09. To ensure the future aviation needs of Sydney meet the expectations of the community and are fully integrated into long-term growth strategies, the Government, in partnership with the New South Wales Government, will work together to plan for the Sydney region’s future airport infrastructure, including how it links to Sydney’s growth centres and its road and rail transport systems. This is the first time that the two governments are aligning their planning and investment strategies. ...

From: National Aviation Policy White Paper, Department of Infrastructure,Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, 16 December 2009

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

NBN Broadband Plan

NBN Co diagram of Fibre Serving Area, Indicative Access InfrastructureNBN Co have issued "NBN Co consultation paper: proposed wholesale fibre bitstream products" (21 December 2009) . Written submissions are invited by 12 February 2010 and Industry Briefing Sessions will be held in Sydney and Melbourne, on 20 and 29 January 2010. \

The paper is 27 pages (2.6Mbytes of PDF). It is very precisely, but clearly written. There are well executed technical diagrams. Of particular note is the diagram for "Fibre Serving Area – Indicative Access Infrastructure" illustrating the relationship between Multi Dwelling Units, Internal Fibre and Optical Network Termination. The only suggestion for improvement I could make is for NBN Co to produce a web version.

Of note:
  1. NBN Co plans to provide Ethernet: "It is NBN Co’s view that the Layer 2 products for mass-market fibre services should be based on Ethernet delivery, utilising GPON as the physical access technology. Please note that NBN Co has yet to define Layer 2 offers beyond the mass-market."
  2. NBN Plans support for voice, video and other QoS sensitive applications, with 4 classes of service.
  3. A Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) is being considered with an Analogue Telephone Adapter (ATA) integrated within the Optical Network Termination (ONT).
  4. In its consultation process NBN Co. specifically mentions the Communications Alliance: "... NBN Co will continue to collaborate with industry as part of the Communications Alliance process."
  5. NBN Co intends to support multi-cast protocols, which allows for broadcast like services for IPTV and digital radio: "As NBN Co intends to deliver a multi-cast capability, some Layer 3 awareness will be required within the NBN to support the delivery of IPTV services."
Some excerpts from the paper:
  1. Introduction 3
  2. Building a fibre access network 6
  3. NBN Co’s overall product objectives 8
  4. Choice of layer in the vertical technology stack 9
  5. High level technology standards 12
  6. Location of Points of Interconnect for NBN Co wholesale fibre network 14
  7. NBN Co wholesale fibre bitstream products definition 17
  8. Important product elements 20
  9. Conclusion and next steps 24
1. Introduction Background
NBN Co’s role is to realise the Australian Government’s vision for the development of a next generation national broadband network. To do this successfully, we need to consult widely to ensure our plans for the network meet the current and future needs of our wholesale customers and the wider Australian community.

This Consultation Paper:
  • sets out the conceptual framework that will underpin the development of our proposed wholesale fibre bitstream products
  • focuses on the 90% of premises that are expected to receive high speed broadband services through fibre to the premises (FTTP) technology.1 It does not consider wholesale product offerings over wireless or satellite networks
  • outlines our current thinking on the design of the NBN Co fibre network and the wholesale bitstream products to be provided over that network
In particular, this paper will discuss:
  • the objectives that will underpin NBN Co’s development of its fibre wholesale products
  • the level in the vertical technology stack in which NBN Co intends to offer its fibre wholesale products
  • the high-level technology standards on which NBN Co will build its network
  • NBN Co’s proposed policy for determining the location of Points of Interconnect (PoIs)
  • an overview of the two fibre wholesale products that NBN Co intends to initially offer to its wholesale customers
  • the service features that are intended to be supported by NBN Co’s wholesale fibre products
This Consultation Paper does not attempt to outline the full details of NBN Co’s proposed wholesale fibre products, nor does it describe the various pricing structures of those products. The price structure of our wholesale fibre products will be presented to the industry during NBN Co’s consultation program that will take place in early 2010.

1 Note that in some deployment scenarios (e.g. Multi-Dwelling Units or MDUs) fibre will be delivered to the premises and distribution of services to individual units or service locations will occur via internal building wiring. The details of the MDU solution are not contained in this Product Consultation Paper.

Summary of NBN Co’s proposed wholesale fibre products
  • NBN Co plans to offer a wholesale Layer 2 bitstream product – in doing so, NBN Co will seek to occupy as small a footprint as possible in the overall value chain, leaving retail service providers (RSPs) with significant ability to innovate and develop new services in the higher levels of the value chain.
  • The location of PoIs will be optimised to support healthy competition among RSPs and align with contestable backhaul. For more densely populated areas, such as urban and regional centres, a “local” Point of Interconnection (PoI) is will be established for each Fibre Serving Area (FSA),2 while for less densely populated areas, a “district” PoI (which aggregates two or more FSAs together), will be established. If competitive backhaul is not available from a PoI, supplementary provision of backhaul may be required for a limited period of time to permit the emergence of competitive backhaul on these routes. Only one PoI will be available for any FSA. The number and location of PoIs is still to be determined.
NBN Co will offer its wholesale Layer 2 bitstream product in two forms:
  • the ––Local Ethernet Bitstream (LEB) product will provide our wholesale customers with a Layer-2 access service between the Optical Network Termination (ONT) at an end-user premises and a “local” PoI, located at the Fibre Access Node for the relevant FSA. The LEB product is likely to be offered in capital cities and regional centres. It is envisaged that the LEB product will be made available in respect of the significant proportion of FSAs in Australia.
  • the–– Aggregated Ethernet Bitstream (AEB) product is likely to be offered in rural areas where there are no competitive backhaul services below the PoI. The AEB product enables aggregated access to one or more FSAs via an aggregated link. The LEB product will not be available in locations where the AEB product is made available.
Both the LEB and AEB products offers will be based on an Ethernet platform, utilising Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) as the physical access technology. The technology will deliver a range of active service features including security and Quality of Service (QoS), as well as IP multicast.

Our wholesale products will support access by multiple RSPs, a range of customer premises • equipment (CPE) and will include an interface for analogue telephony. The detail of how these elements will be presented to our wholesale customers will be discussed in later consultation papers.

2 A Fibre Serving Area (FSA) is defined as the area covered by one or more Passive Optical Networks (PONs) terminating at the same “Fibre Access Node”.


2. Building a fibre access network

90 per cent of Australian premises are planned to be served by a fibre access network. While NBN Co is currently undertaking a detailed assessment, planning and design process, to facilitate the consultation program, an indicative configuration of the access network is set out in the
following diagram:

NBN Co diagram of Fibre Serving Area, Indicative Access Infrastructure


4. Choice of layer in the vertical technology stack

... NBN Co considers that a Layer 2 product is most closely aligned with NBN Co’s stated objectives and is most likely to facilitate the achievement of optimum competitive outcomes over the short-to-medium term. Layer 2 products are also most likely to support end-user choice and simplicity, while avoiding the downside risks associated with Layer 3 products, such as a lack of competitive differentiation and limited scope for innovation. ...

5. H High level technology standards

It is NBN Co’s view that the Layer 2 products for mass-market fibre services should be based on Ethernet delivery, utilising GPON as the physical access technology. Please note that NBN Co has yet to define Layer 2 offers beyond the mass-market. ...

Point to multipoint technologies (known as PON – passive optical networks) such as Ethernet Passive Optical Network (EPON) and Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) provide a shared medium for customers, with only individual fibre tails post the splitter. In contrast, point-to-point optical networks provide customers with a full fibre for their exclusive use. ...

Do you believe this model will help foster participation by RSPs in less densely populated locations? What other barriers exist to participation by RSP in these locations? How might NBN Co help address them? Do you believe this model allow sufficient space for participation and investment by commercial backhaul players? What concerns may need to be managed? What criteria should be considered when determining whether the currently available backhaul to a particular proposed regional or district PoI is competitive? What criteria should be considered to assess the likelihood of competitive backhaul being developed in the near-term future at a regional or district location where present backhaul options are not yet deemed to be competitive?

7. NBN Co wholesale fibre bitstream products definition

A. The product offering
NBN Co is proposing to initially offer the following two FTTP products to the market:
1. Local Ethernet Bitstream (LEB)
2. Aggregated Ethernet Bitstream (AEB)
Essentially, both products have the same access capability, with the AEB service offering a short-haul aggregation service for those rural and regional areas where contestable backhaul options have not yet emerged. ...

8. I Important product elements

Traffic Management & Prioritisation

NBN Co’s product offering will provide QoS options to support voice, video and other QoS sensitive applications (although timing of these options is subject to current assessment). Ethernet and GPON provide the capabilities to support a QoS differentiated product. The LEB and AEB products will support 802.1p identification of Ethernet traffic priority. ...

At this stage NBN Co is planning to support 4 classes of service although it has not been determined when and how all options would become available. They are:

  • Provides guaranteed low levels of delay and jitter
  • Suitable for voice and other communicative services. This is the highest priority traffic
  • Assurances for the levels of jitter and packet loss
  • Suitable for video / VOD, including multicast services
  • This class provides a second highest priority of traffic
  • Provides a higher level of assurance than the best effort class, with lower probability of delay, jitter and congestion
  • Suitable for commercial data services, business grade data services
Best effort
  • No performance guarantees
  • Suitable for high speed internet
  • This is the lowest priority traffic and anticipated to carry high volumes of data with varying levels of performance according to instantaneous congestion

Voice Option

As a means to aid transition from current access technologies to the NBN, inclusion of Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) capability is being considered to support legacy telephony services.

It is proposed that this will be achieved via an Analogue Telephone Adapter (ATA) integrated within the Optical Network Termination (ONT). Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) will form the core of the interface definition for this capability. Further details of the implementation of the POTS capability will be released in due course. ...


Multicast is a technology whereby content transmitted simultaneously to two or more end users (e.g. IPTV programs) is carried as a single stream as far into the network as possible before being replicated (i.e. divided) and on-forwarded to end-users. Replication may occur at more than one point along the end to end path, resulting in a tree of replicated streams. The multicast technique can achieve significant bandwidth savings for the delivery of one-to-many services.

It is NBN Co’s intention to deliver a multicast capability, which will require the incorporation of some Layer 3 awareness to support its delivery. The details of multicast implementation are still under consideration. ...

This section outlines key elements of NBN Co’s planned product specification. Are there any other • technical parameters that should be included?
What multicast capabilities have service providers identified? Should the NBN Co access network proxy IGMP functionality and consolidate reporting before passing messages through to the service provider, or do particular services require access to all IGMP communications from all end users? In other words, should NBN Co manage multicast signalling scalability on behalf of the access seekers, or would this unacceptably limit the kinds of multicast services that are being contemplated? How to provide SPs with the ability to confirm connectivity and power? Whether standards are required for CPE installation, reporting and management to allow customer • self install, remote CPE configuration and downstream service provisioning? How to ensure continued support for smart grid and other public services such as safety, health and education? How should legacy voice services be provided? The benefits and disadvantages of integrating Pay TV capabilities into the ONT? The merits and disadvantages of an RF Overlay approach towards Pay TV versus an IP multicast approach?
Should battery backup capabilities, for the purpose of maintaining POTS (or optionally, data) • connectivity for a limited period of time following a power outage, be offered to end users at the time of ONT installation and should the choice be optional? How can the environmental costs be responsibly managed and how can the costs appropriately shared between end users and their chosen RSPs? How can end users be best educated to make an informed choice? ...

From: NBN Co consultation paper: proposed wholesale fibre bitstream products, NBN Co, 21 December 2009

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Realising Our Broadband Future

The Australian Government is hosting "Realising Our Broadband Future" in Sydney, 10-11 December 2009. Speakers include Mike Quigley (NBN Co), Vinton Cerf (Google), Paul Twomey (Internet Corporation), Kevin Rudd, Stephen Conroy and Kate Lundy (Australian Government) and David Bartlett (Tasmanian Government). The event is free and anyone can register to attend.

The event has five streams, each with a "lead editor":
  1. Smart Infrastructure: Alan Noble (Google)
  2. Digital Education: Bruce Dixon (Anytime, Anywhere Learning Foundation)
  3. e-Community: Genevieve Bell (Intel)
  4. e-Health: Peter Fleming (National E-Health Transition Authority)
  5. e-Business: Bruce McCabe (KPMG)
The Interim report of the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network questions how far the NBN will extend into regional areas and if there are measures to assess the performance of the NBN . Hopefully this will be addressed at the event.

I will be attended the Digital Education stream of the event> In hope to be able to tell delegates about my Green Technology Strategies e-learning course which is now offered to postgraduates students of eight Australian universities and to launch the companion book of course notes.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

National Broadband Network Senate Report

Interim report of the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network has been released. The report questions how far it will extend into regional areas and if there are measures to assess the performance of the NBN . The report is available as a set of web pages and PDF files chapter by chapter and as one reasonably sized PDF file (701KB).

The committee was dominated by opposition Senators, but even so is relatively mild in its criticism of the NBN. There are dissenting reports by the Government Senators and The Greens. The Government Senators concentrate on pointing out how good an NBN would be for the nation and the Greens on how previous government decisions on Telstra have limited current choices.

The issue of coverage in regional areas is an unsolved problem. There is no proven technology which can deliver the same speed in regional areas as in cities at an affordable price.

The Australian Government is hosting "Realising Our Broadband Future", 10-11 December 2009, with Mike Quigley (NBN Co), Vinton Cerf (Google), Paul Twomey (Internet Corporation), Kevin Rudd, Stephen Conroy and Kate Lundy (Australian Government) and David Bartlett (Tasmanian Government). No doubt issues of regional access will be discussed.

Conclusion 1

2.26 The committee is of the opinion that, in order to prevent a difference of measurement modelling, similar to that which occurred with the assessment of the OPEL bid, possibly resulting in a consequential delay to the NBN implementation, it would be beneficial for all stakeholders to know which modelling the department will use to assess the coverage footprint.

2.38 It is the committee's view that it would be an extremely unsatisfactory result for the NBN, such a significant government investment, which has been contributed to by all Australian taxpayers, to reach only a small percentage of a state's geographical area while leaving a very high proportion of rural and remote citizens without access to the NBN.

Conclusion 2

2.42 At the time of this report going to print, neither the department nor the Australian Government had provided any guidance or further clarification of the composition of the 98 per cent NBN coverage footprint. The committee believes that the government needs to provide this clarification to proponents and stakeholders alike to ensure a level of confidence that the significant $4.7 billion funding will benefit in particular those Australians that are already underserved or unserved. Particular attention is required to address the needs of those remote areas that are currently generating a large percentage of Australia's wealth yet are in the most underserviced areas.

Conclusion 3

2.73 The committee believes that submissions received and evidence taken to date strongly support the need for the term 'open access arrangements' to be more clearly defined. The committee calls on the government to provide a clarification of this term, which is critical to encouraging ongoing competition in the industry. This would ensure that there is no potential for a successful bidder to interpret the term to its own competitive advantage.

2.109 The committee acknowledges concerns of affordability and service provision, which have the potential to impact on the long-term sustainability of the NBN operator in providing a viable return of investment.

Conclusion 4

2.127 The committee questions the appropriateness of the timeline for the evaluation of the RFP, believing it will not permit the necessary level of scrutiny by either the Expert Panel or the ACCC to select the successful proponent for the NBN.

Chapter 3

3.48 The committee considers that the government should have provided a regulatory framework within the RFP; this would have provided proponents with greater certainty in building their business case for the NBN, while also providing a legal framework for the assessment of proposals.

Conclusion 5

3.56 The committee concludes that omitting to specify the structure of the new network has caused confusion and uncertainty among potential bidders and industry stakeholders.

3.88 The committee supports the general consensus that any new regulations that underpin the NBN should ensure that any operator/owner of the new network cannot participate in anti-competitive behaviour.

3.112 The committee encourages the government to effectively utilises this historic opportunity for regulatory change.

Conclusion 6

3.124 The committee believes that it is in the interest of the government, the industry and the Australian people to ensure that delays to the timeframe for implementation of the NBN are kept to a minimum. Notwithstanding this, the committee considers that the government should incorporate appropriate and timely opportunities for consultation with the industry on suggested regulatory changes.

Conclusion 7

3.125 The committee also believes that the government could easily remove several avenues of possible legal challenge by incorporating industry consultation into the process, even at this late stage.

Chapter 4

Conclusion 8

4.55 The committee believes that the requirement in the RFP for the NBN design to be based on a FTTN or FTTP platform should be broadened to enable a greater level of technology convergence where this is more appropriate than fibre.

Conclusion 9

4.76 The committee acknowledges the complexity of the deployment of the NBN. However, the committee concludes that the most effective use of this substantial expenditure would be to ensure that those Australian homes and businesses that are currently most disadvantaged should be prioritised for initial deployment of the NBN. That is, areas that are currently underserved or unserved should have broadband deployed first, with infrastructure subsequently rolled-IN towards the cities from those underserved areas, which are generally in regional, rural and remote communities.

Conclusion 10

4.77 The committee concludes that the best model for planning the deployment schedule would incorporate high levels of coordination and ongoing involvement by local and state governments with the Commonwealth Government. This would also provide assurance of support through appropriate regulatory changes within each tier of government.

Conclusion 11

4.78 The committee also concludes that there needs to be a carefully considered transition plan to migrate both existing service providers and their customers to the new network over the five year period specified in the RFP. The aim of this transition would be to ensure that it occurs seamlessly, with a no disadvantage test over the five years and that it minimises the issue of stranded assets and stranded customers.

From: List of Committee Comments and Conclusions, Chapter 2, Interim report of the Senate Select Committee on the National Broadband Network, 26 November 2009 (officially dated for release 2 December 2008).

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Friday, September 18, 2009

National Broadband Network: What is it for?

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu have released a useful report: "National Broadband Network - A user's perspective" (16/09/2009). This asks the timely question as to what the NBN will do for consumers, so that they will be willing to pay for it. The report is 32 pages of PDF, but because of the use of large unnecessary images, it is more than 1 Mbyte: you may need broadband just to download it. ;-)

The report is asking the question "What will consumers want to use the NBN for?" which has a very simple answer: "Its the Internet, stupid". The real question is not what consumers will use the NBN for, but how will those industries it will challenge, particularly fixed line telephony, broadcast and pay TV, cope with the competition.

The report considers applications such as smart metering, which are not relevant to the NBN. Smart metering only requires a very low bandwidth connection and can be done with low capacity wireless, data over power lines or old fashioned telephone lines; it does not need fibre to the premises. Similarly discussion of automation of lighting, air conditioning and home security networks are not relevant to the NBN, as these applications do not need broadband and have little value for consumers in any case.

The report suffers from the assumption that the NBN will be built in the way the Government described in its initial announcement, that is as a new completely standalone, pure fibre optic network. This is unlikely to actually occur. The NBN will be assembled from existing networks, using existing fibre backbones, ADSL2+ and wireless Internet, where appropriate. This is partly a matter of engineering, as there is no point in duplicating existing working infrastructure and in some cases there will be no feasible alternative.

Also where the new NBN infrastructure is built will be a matter of economics and consumer demand. There is no point in building an expensive fibre network where there not enough customers to use, and pay for, it. In practice fibre to the home will be first installed in new suburbs and new cluster housing. It will not be feasible to retrofit most existing homes with fibre in the short term. ADSL2+ will remain the most common common for most homes of the next decade. This will be supplemented with wireless Internet.

There are some very obvious uses for the new network, where have not been highlighted by the government in their advocacy for the new system: to replace copper cable telephony and pay TV. These are far from the applications in education and medicine mentioned by the NBN advocates, but telephony and TV will provide the bulk of the revenue from the system and the bulk of the use.

These old applications create new regulatory and industry challenges. The provision of digital TV in Australia was, and still is, crippled by a regulatory regime designed to favour a few TV broadcasters. The NBN would provide the opportunity to open up digital TV to a world of content. However this will make the delivery systems of the existing Pay TV, and well as the free to air TV broadcasters, obsolete and challenge their revenue. The government will be under pressure to put in place restrictions on the use of the NBN for TV, which will then cripple its widespread use.

Similarly there are difficult issues with the provision of telephony over the NBN. Engineering and economics would suggest the NBN should replaced copper based telephone lines. However, this then will remove the need for telephone companies. Apart from threatening the business of the current Australian companies, this creates difficult issues about the provision of reliable telephone services.

Here is the text of the Executive summary of the report, minus the images:
The Federal Government’s 7 April 2009 decision to build a $43 billion national broadband network (NBN) signals the advent of a new digital era in Australia.

The NBN, created and run as a wholesale only, open-access network by the government-owned NBN Company, will operate independently of existing copper-based broadband such as ADSL2+ or legacy cable broadband networks, but may draw on some existing infrastructure in this space.

The single largest investment by any Australian government, the NBN will play a critical role in advancing key national indicators including GDP, employment and productivity.

Deloitte believes the NBN has the potential to rival the impact of other technology milestones such as the widespread adoption of personal computers in the 1980s and the mass market adoption of mobile phones during the 1990s and 2000s.

While the results of the proposed NBN implementation study will not be known until early 2010, the NBN’s future impact can already be anticipated. The proposed implementation study will need to identify what impact the NBN will have on specific industries and businesses to properly consider the likely drivers of end-user demand such as design, pricing, return on investment and funding issues.

It will need to consider uptake in the consumer market and the drivers for this.

Until now, not enough attention has been given to these likely end-user demands and key NBN stakeholders must incorporate these elements into the network design in order to achieve operational success.

Now is the time to shift from the technical discussion to the applications and innovations that are really going to transform Australia and the way we live and operate.

This report, by Deloitte’s Technology, Media & telecommunications industry team, highlights many of the likely end-user demands that should be factored into the design of the NBN.

For consumers and small-to-medium businesses (SMEs), a 100 megabit per second fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network will usher in a new era of digital products and services. Businesses and governments will deliver more services through this network.

It forecasts the arrival of a world where high-speed broadband delivers new video content, security and utility applications directly to the home. Smart metering devices will record most household’s energy consumption in small units of time and facilitate new green-energy delivery options by national utilities.

At an even more transformational level, the NBN will unify the ability of households to deploy automation technologies such as lighting controls, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and home security networks. Widespread adoption of home automation technologies will give utility providers or telecommunications carriers the opportunity to consolidate billing services through a single provider
connected directly to the home via the new network.

Above all, it provides the opportunity to create a digitally-based country better connected both inside and outside Australia.

The NBN must also meet the demands of national objectives relating to emergency response and homeland security.

Environmental and social policy objectives will also influence the network solution, including ensuring the network extends to remote areas, fringe areas and offshore islands. In addition, the NBN must overachieve on environmental targets for energy efficiency, provide an effective basis for indigenous and SME empowerment, achieve world competitive cost levels and fuel the
export of electronic business services.

Deloitte has identified seven primary challenges that threaten the success of the NBN and the future applications and services expected to be delivered using this infrastructure:

• End-user retail packaging and migration
• Competition and regulation
• NBN Company funding and structuring
• Design and construction
• Support for innovation and delivery
of new applications
• Disruption due to the Federal Government election cycle
• Vertical and horizontal integration of private sector industries, and government departments and utilities.

These challenges are outlined in further
detail in this report. ...

National Broadband Network - A user's perspective, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, 16 September 2009

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Australian Government Digital Regions Initiative

The Digital Regions Initiative - Round 1 - Draft Guidelines have been released for comment by the the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. This project will provide A$60M over four years for telecommunications projects to improve education, health and emergency services in regional areas of Australia. The funding is only available to state, territory and local governments. There are other funding programs for community groups and individuals in the Clever Networks program.

Some excerpts from the draft:
Table of contents

1. Digital Regions Initiative
1.1 Introduction
2. Objective
3. Principles
4. Eligibility
5. Funding
5.1 Matching funding
6. Expression of Interest process
7. Application Process
7.1 Information to be included in Project proposals
7.2 Confidentiality
8. Late lodgement
9. Selection criteria
Selection criterion 1: Project outcomes and benefits
Selection criterion 2: Innovative and complementary services
Selection criterion 3: Demand
Selection criterion 4: Technical characteristics
Selection criterion 5: Financial planning and sustainability
Selection criterion 6: Management and organisational structures
10. Assessment process
10.1 Full project proposals
11. Reporting and evaluation
Key performance indicators

1. Digital Regions Initiative

1.1 Introduction

The four year $60 million Digital Regions Initiative comprises $46 million announced as part of the Australian Government’s initial response to the Regional Telecommunications Review and additional funding of $14 million as part of the Government’s Rural and Regional Broadband Network Initiative announced in the May 2009 Budget.

The Digital Regions Initiative will co-fund digital enablement applications to improve services in the key sectors of health, education and emergency services in regional, rural and remote communities across Australia in partnership with state, territory and local governments.

For Australians living in regional, rural and remote locations, improving service delivery through the use of innovative digital enablement technology will:

  • leverage the potential of the Australian Government’s significant investment in the National Broadband Network

  • further stimulate Australia’s digital economy

  • create employment opportunities in local communities

  • develop skills and help to retain professionals in local communities.

The Digital Regions Initiative will support projects which will deliver innovative and sustainable services such as those that will:

  • boost innovation in healthcare by enabling services such as remote consultation, diagnosis and treatment in areas where there are specialist skills shortages

  • extend digital education services to enable more regional, rural and remote communities to access improved educational opportunities

  • increase the use of digital technologies to improve emergency and disaster response both within and across state and territory borders.

2. Objective

The objective of the Digital Regions Initiative is to co-fund innovative digital enablement projects supporting improved health, education, and emergency services in regional, rural and remote communities.

3. Principles

The Digital Regions Initiative will co-fund digital applications projects that meet the objective by:

  • being positioned to leverage the opportunities that will be created by the National Broadband Network

  • targeting gaps in essential services delivered to regional, rural and remote communities

  • expanding successful digital enablement initiatives of state, territory or local government, including those funded by the Clever Networks program into other regions, cross jurisdictionally or nationally

  • using proven and tested concepts and models of improved and innovative service delivery including those developed by Clever Networks projects, in new regions, cross jurisdictionally or nationally

  • supporting innovative approaches to digital service delivery based on best practice developments from nationally recognised Information and Communications Technology (ICT) research and development activities

  • aligning with national policy approaches in the delivery of health, education and emergency services with a particular emphasis on benefiting regional, rural and remote communities.

4. Eligibility

Successful projects under the Digital Regions Initiative will be selected through a competitive process. Applications for funding under the Digital Regions Initiative Round 1 may be made by state, territory or local governments.

Where more than one government entity is seeking funding for a project proposal, a lead entity must be nominated as the applicant seeking funding on behalf of all other entities (or project partners) that will contribute to the proposed project.

Entities eligible to apply are:

  • state and territory government departments and agencies

  • state and territory owned business enterprises

  • local government

  • local government business enterprises

  • business enterprises or other entities jointly owned by state and territory governments and local governments, e.g. new entities or entities owned by and represent a group of state, territory or local government entities, or

  • local government and municipal associations.

Note: Project partners may also include not-for-profit and private sector organisations. However, the lead entity submitting a project proposal under the Digital Regions Initiative funding must be one of the entities listed above. If successful, the lead entity will receive Digital Regions Initiative funding and will have the responsibility of implementing the project and meeting the obligations.

5. Funding

The Digital Regions Initiative will make available up to $53.4 million over two funding rounds. The first competitive funding round will call for expressions of interest to be lodged by 31 August 2009. The intent of the expression of interest process is to provide potential applicants with the opportunity to collaborate with other projects, either within their jurisdiction or to strengthen their application through cross-jurisdictional linkages. These will be published on the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy website ( Full project proposals are to be lodged by 30 September 2009.

The Digital Regions Initiative seeks to co-fund comprehensive proposals which facilitate service delivery in the key sectors of health, education and emergency services through innovative digital enablement technologies. Collaborative projects between state entities and cross-jurisdictional entities are encouraged to maximise the effective use of those technologies. Proposals must also be positioned to work with, and take advantage of, the fast broadband that will be delivered through the Australian Government’s National Broadband Network. Further information on the National Broadband Network can also be found on the Department’s website (

The range of Australian Government funding that may be provided for a particular project under the Digital Regions Initiative Round 1 is $2–7 million (GST exclusive). Applicants proposing projects that are multi-jurisdictional or have a national focus may seek a higher level of funding.

Funding will only be provided to innovative, high-quality projects that are closely aligned to the objective and principles outlined in these guidelines. Applicants are expected to provide a clear strategy to ensure ongoing financial viability of their project. Funding will not be provided to support the continuation of existing projects.

Digital enablement project funding will be provided to enable service delivery. It is not intended that funding be used for establishing fibre linkages but essential equipment that is required for service delivery will be funded.

Projects may include the following types of activities:

  • digital technology applications

  • costs associated with the introduction of digital applications

  • enhancement to capabilities of existing network infrastructure

  • network engineering and improvements that ensure an efficient and effective network

  • associated capital equipment (servers, network hubs and connectivity elements).

Applicants should note that funding for successful state and territory government proposals will be provided through a National Partnership Agreement on the Digital Regions Initiative.

Successful local government proposals will be required to enter into a separate funding deed for each project with the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

The Digital Regions Initiative will run until 30 June 2013. Projects funded under the Initiative must be completed before 31 December 2012 to allow time for final project reporting and a final evaluation of the Initiative.

Note: The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy reserves the right to amend these guidelines for Round 2 funding.

5.1 Matching funding

Matching funding is required for all Digital Regions Initiative projects. Where an applicant is seeking funding on behalf of more than one agency or jurisdiction, all parties must contribute resources to the project. Total contributions from sources other than the Australian Government must at least match the Digital Regions Initiative Round 1 funding. Contributions from parties from any activity primarily funded by the Australian Government cannot be used as matching funding.

Activities that are primarily funded by the Australian Government are not precluded from being part of a project. However, contributions from any such activity would be disregarded for the purpose of assessing whether the application complies with the matching requirement for contributions from other sources.

Cash contributions will be considered more favourably in the assessment process. Other contributions must be valued at a specified current market rate. Other contributions may include property, equipment, services, personnel time, project management and professional advice. Any specified contributions must be needed to fulfill the project’s goals and objectives and must be applicable within the timeframe of the project.

For the purposes of assessing matching funding, the Australian Government will use a nominal value for staff who devote 100 per cent of their time to the Digital Regions Initiative project (covering salary, on-costs and overheads, per annum) as follows:

  • program leader/senior manager $170,000

  • project/team leader/manager $108,300

  • other (support staff, e.g. technical, administrative) $ 67,500

Large capital items must be valued proportionally to the usage by the Digital Regions Initiative project and based on the running costs and depreciation of the capital item.

Valuations of existing intellectual property will be not considered as matching funding.

9. Selection criteria

Applicants for Digital Regions Initiative Round 1 funding should address their project proposals against the selection criteria listed below.

In responding to these selection criteria, applicants should have regard to the Digital Regions Initiative’s objective and principles and address all requirements of each selection criteria.

Selection criterion 1: Project outcomes and benefits

Applicants must provide a clear description of the key sector(s) (health, education and emergency services) being targeted and how their project outcomes will improve the delivery of services in that key sector(s).

The description of the project’s intended benefits should include the potential social and economic benefits for service end-users resulting from its implementation and any likely impact of the services for other organisations and/or the wider community.

Responses should detail how the project will work with and take advantage of the fast broadband that will be delivered through the Australian Government’s National Broadband Network. As well, they should address how the project will leverage other national, state, territory or local government priorities including digital enablement initiatives.

Applicants should also clearly identify whether the project expands and/or replicates successful Clever Networks, state, territory and local government projects or models of innovative service delivery.

Selection criterion 2: Innovative and complementary services

Applicants need to clearly describe how the project will address national, state, territory and/or local government priorities in relation to service delivery issues in regional, rural and remote Australia for the key sector(s) being targeted:

Projects with an eHealth-related component must clearly show alignment with the National eHealth Strategy. Responses should clearly show that projects are capable of being implemented in compliance with National eHealth policies, business requirements, systems architectures and standards (or updates thereof) endorsed by national e-health governance bodies, or issued by the National eHealth Transition Authority (NEHTA) or the Australian Government as required.

Projects targeting the education sector which specifically include schools, should contribute to national educational objectives as set out in the Digital Education Revolution (DER) Strategic Plan and Implementation Roadmap. The DER aims to contribute to sustainable and meaningful change to teaching and learning in Australian schools that will prepare students for further education, training and to live and work in a digital world. Responses should indicate how the project will contribute to these objectives.

Projects that focus or include the emergency services sector should complement Australian Government emergency service initiatives.

Applicants need to outline how the project’s service delivery model is innovative and how it is distinguishable from other applications and services already commercially available.

Selection criterion 3: Demand

Applicants need to clearly establish the level of demand for their project including how demand will be sustainable or increase over time.

This will include the approximate number of service end-users to benefit from the project and level of support for the initiative from communities, users and relevant agencies.

In outlining the level of demand, applicants will need to identify the region(s) in which the project services will be delivered (including key population centres). Applicants should also identify why such services are currently not being provided, and are unlikely to be provided, in the targeted communities in the near future without Digital Regions Initiative funding.

Selection criterion 4: Technical characteristics

Applicants need to clearly explain key technical characteristics of their proposal, in particular, the digital enablement technology to be used and how it will meet user expectations and requirements. No single technology will be favoured in the assessment of project proposals.

As well as a maintenance strategy, issues which need to be covered by the proposal include: project scalability, adherence to relevant standards, access conditions and protocols, the level of interoperability with other networks, functionality, security, upgrade and redundancy.

Selection criterion 5: Financial planning and sustainability

Applicants are required to include a financial plan which outlines the financial strategy, viability and sustainability of the project, including the level and nature of funding from sources other than the Australian Government.

Budget and expenditure details are required to be entered into the Budget and Expenditure template as part of the online application process.

This template will capture information pertaining to the proposed project cash flow, expenditure and income and will clearly identify contributions being made by the applicant and/or other project partners.

Applicants will also need to include signed letters of commitment as evidence of contributions being made from parties other than the applicants. Facility to upload these documents will be available as part of the online application process.

Applicants should also identify and confirm their ability to ongoing service delivery after Digital Regions Initiative funding ceases to demonstrate the ongoing sustainability of the project.

Note: Applicants must at least match the funding requested from the Digital Regions Initiative as outlined in 5.1 of these guidelines. ...

Selection criterion 6: Management and organisational structures

Lead applicants must provide details of the organisational structure and management team to undertake their project, particularly the individual expertise and previous achievements of individual members. This should include:

  • an organisational diagram showing the relationship between the lead project, other members of the consortium and any other relevant organisations

  • a clear outline of the governance arrangements for the implementation of the project

  • full corporate ownership details of all members of the project partners

  • curriculum vitae (maximum of two pages) and the contact details of two referees for each member of the management team.

Responses must include the percentage of time that the manager or management team will devote to the management of the Digital Regions Initiative project. It must also include details of major projects of a similar nature or recent accomplishments of each member or the team collectively.

Details of major projects should include the following:

  • a description of the project and contribution made by the organisation to the project

  • an outline of performance under the project contract(s) (including milestones, budget and key performance indicators, as applicable)

  • the total (combined) dollar value of the project and the manner in which it was funded

  • the contract start and end dates

  • at least one referee, which should include the counter-party to the project contract(s), including an explicit authority for the Australian Government to approach these individuals and be provided with full information regarding project performance.

Where the relevant project(s) included funding from any level of government, the following details must also be supplied:

  • contract title and number

  • contract (or project) name and number and relevant agency (if not the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy)

  • contact details for at least one referee, which should include the project manager from the relevant agency, including an explicit authority for the Australian Government to approach these individuals and be provided with full information regarding project performance.

Applicants will also need to tender a robust and achievable project plan addressing implementation issues, deployment timeframes and risk management measures. In particular, applicants should give assurances that the project will be completed on or before 31 December 2012.

Note: Final reports and financial acquittals will be required before 31 March 2013.

If more than one entity is involved in the carriage of the proposed project, the applicant will need to indicate who they are, what role they will play, and where each partnering entity fits within the project’s governance framework, including reporting, decision making and organisational structure/management team.

Note: Facility to upload documents related to this criterion will be available as part of the online application process. ...

Key performance indicators

Key performance indicator 1: The extent to which regional, rural and remote communities are positively impacted by Digital Regions Initiative.

Examples of measures by sector:

  • Number of communities that have benefited from funded projects

  • Name and classification (regional, rural or remote under the Australian Standard Geographic Classification—ASGC) of communities that have benefited from funded projects

  • Number of projects completed on time

  • Description of benefits and impacts on communities.

Key performance indicator 2: Improvements in the delivery of health, education and emergency services enabled by digital technologies supported by Digital Regions Initiative projects.

Examples of measures by sector:

  • Description of service delivery benefits for the sector

  • Growth (number and description of new services/enhanced access, by technology type and speed) of services delivered by the Digital Regions Initiative

  • Description/impact of improved digital communication applications and service delivery outcomes for client groups (e.g. radiologists, teaching professionals, students, emergency response workers)

  • Description of the qualitative effects on regional, rural and remote communities

  • Description of how the digital enablement technology has benefited the sector.

Key performance indicator 3: Extent to which Australian Government investment is leveraged by Digital Regions Initiative projects.

Examples of measures by sector:

  • The level of investment by project partners as a result of funded projects.

  • The level of investment by parties external to the consortia.

  • Description of how the project expands or replicates other government projects or models of service delivery.

  • The number and type of additional activities/enhanced access to applications that have occurred beyond the scope of funding agreements.

  • Description of additional benefits achieved by projects through the opportunities created by the National Broadband Network.

  • The level of additional investment that has occurred beyond the scope of funding agreements and as a result of funded projects.

  • Description of how the longer term sustainability of the project will be assured. ...

From: Digital Regions Initiative - Round 1 - Draft Guidelines, Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, 15 June 2009

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fibre-to-the-premises in greenfield estates

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy issued a "National Broadband Network: Fibre-to-the-premises in greenfield estates - Consultation paper" 29 May 2009. The paper is available as a 23 page, 482 Kbyte PDF document. Submissions on the paper can be made until 12 June 2009.

One point the paper makes is that battery backup will need to be provided for the equipment on the customer premises. The paper suggests that maintenance for this is likely to be the consumer's responsibility by analogy with fire alarms and smoke detectors. However, there are many documented cases of deaths due to not correctly maintained fire alarms and smoke detectors. It may not be good public policy to apply this to the NBN knowing that the system is then likely to fail in an emergency, such as a bushfire.

Unfortunately the Department has made the paper difficult to find and obtain by placing it behind a registration process which requires the reader to enter their name, email address and organisation name. There appears to be no good reason for this process, which appears to be contrary to government policy for access to information. Here is an excerpt from the paper, minus the diagrams and some administrative details of the consultation process:


  • Purpose of this paper
  • Related processes
  • The goal: fibre in greenfield estates
  • Policy rationale
  • Recent Australian developments
  • The costs and benefits of providing telecommunications in greenfield estates
  • Delivering FTTP technology in greenfield developments
  • Role of government
  • Other roles and responsibilities
  • Possible legislation
  • Definitions
  • Greenfield estates
  • Multi‑dwelling units and office blocks
  • Fibre‑to‑the‑premises
  • Exemptions
  • Commencement date
  • Competition and regulatory framework
  • Competition to service greenfield estates
  • Competition at the services layer: access and equivalence
  • Open access arrangements
  • Equivalence
  • Obligations to supply retail services
  • Retail pricing
  • Other safeguards and requirements
  • Reporting
  • Enforcement
  • Next steps
  • Submission process
  • Publication of submissions
  • Confidential information
  • Privacy
  • Lobbyists

Purpose of this paper

On 7 April 2009 the Australian Government announced it will establish a new company that will invest up to $43 billion over eight years to build and operate a National Broadband Network (NBN) delivering superfast broadband to Australian homes and workplaces.

The Australian Government is committed to implementing the National Broadband Network initiative as quickly as practicable. While some parts of the initiative will take time to put in place, due to their magnitude and complexity, there are some immediate steps that the Australian Government can undertake quickly and that will deliver significant benefits.

One of the immediate steps the Australian Government announced was that fibre‑to‑the‑premises (FTTP) infrastructure would be required in greenfield estates that receive planning approval after 1 July 2010.

The Australian Government is undertaking a targeted consultation process with key stakeholders on how to implement this initiative.

This paper has been prepared to assist with this process by setting out possible approaches and highlighting particular areas where the views of stakeholders are being sought. The Australian Government recognises this is a complex area and views on the best approach may differ. The options put forward in this paper, therefore, should be seen as a starting point for discussion, and on which feedback is welcome. A number of questions have been posed on a wide range of issues, but the Australian Government is also interested in any additional issues respondents may wish to raise in relation to this initiative.

Written feedback on this paper is invited by 5pm (AEST), 12 June 2009.

Related processes

The Australian Government’s greenfields policy forms part of the NBN initiative announced on 7 April 2009. Another key element of the NBN initiative is to reform the existing telecommunications competition and consumer regulatory frameworks in the transition to the NBN.

The reform options that the Australian Government is considering are canvassed in the regulatory discussion paper, National Broadband Network: Regulatory Reform for 21st Century Broadband1 and submissions are due by 3 June 2009.

Any changes to the regulatory framework resulting from this process will take into account the Australian Government’s new greenfield fibre policy. On the other hand, where relevant, changes resulting from that regulatory review process may apply to service providers operating FTTP networks in greenfield estates.

The Australian Government has indicated it will make final decisions on the operating arrangements, detailed network design and private sector investment arrangements for the company established to roll‑out and operate the NBN following consideration of an Implementation Study to be completed in early 2010. The Implementation Study is also relevant to the implementation of the greenfields policy.

As part of its announcement of an enhanced NBN on 7 April 2009, and as set out in the discussion paper, National Broadband Network: Regulatory Reform for 21st Century Broadband, the Australian Government will require the installation of fibre optic infrastructure to the home and workplace in greenfield estates across Australia that receive planning approval from 1 July 2010.

FTTP networks (also sometimes referred to as fibre‑to‑the‑home) are those which connect customers’ premises to a point of interconnection in the wider telecommunications network using optical fibre (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 An illustrative example of FTTP network architecture.

FTTP networks are capable of providing significantly faster broadband speeds and a broader range of services to end‑users than copper‑based networks.2 Faster broadband speeds will mean better access to the services and applications people use today and access to a greater range of new services in the future.3

It will be important that FTTP networks are configured in such a way that they can be upgraded to meet future requirements, facilitate any‑to‑any connectivity (i.e. the ability to communicate with other people connected to the network and other networks) and support multiple retail competitors.

Policy rationale

Given the superior properties of FTTP networks and the range of services they can support, it would be counter‑productive to have homes and other premises built in new greenfield developments with the latest building technology but connected by antiquated copper wires. Equally it does not make sense to roll‑out the NBN while allowing new premises in greenfield estates to be connected with old technology.

Allowing copper‑based networks to be installed in these estates would also lead to higher costs in the long run if these estates need to be ‘retro‑fitted’ to deploy FTTP connections in the future. Moreover, there is evidence that consumers attribute a significant positive value to the availability of FTTP infrastructure in a new estate which is capitalised into the value of the property.

The installation of FTTP in greenfield estates will ensure that today’s greenfield estates are not tomorrow’s broadband blackspots. There has been community concern, and Ministerial correspondence, about broadband blackspots over an extended period of time. There has also been concern raised about the lack of broadband infrastructure and competition in some developments. Ensuring that appropriate broadband infrastructure is in place will prevent this in the future.

The rationale underpinning the Australian Government’s greenfields policy has been welcomed by a range of stakeholders including the Australian Telecommunications Users’ Group and the Australian Local Government Association. The Online and Communications Council has also endorsed a strategy of ‘promoting consistent and cohesive planning guidelines for state and local government authorities, and effective infrastructure implementation, that facilitates the efficient deployment of broadband.’4 The Australian Government’s FTTP in greenfields policy aims to support this strategy.

Recent Australian developments

In parts of Australia the private sector is already moving to install FTTP networks in new greenfield estates.

For example, the Aurora estate in Victoria, the Fernbrooke estate in Queensland, the Marina Hindmarsh Island estate in South Australia and the suburb of Forde in the ACT are developments that include FTTP networks. In each example the networks are being installed by different carriers.

Overall, the available information suggests that FTTP is currently being deployed in around 120 greenfield estates in Australia. These deployments are expected to connect approximately 150 000 homes. An estimated 7500 homes were connected at December 2008. There are more than 10 operators now installing FTTP in greenfield estates and a number of service providers using this infrastructure to offer services at the retail level.

The installation of FTTP is taking place in a competitive context, with developers typically contracting out the provision of infrastructure and services in developments. In areas where the FTTP infrastructure provider does not provide retail services, arrangements are increasingly being put in place to ensure partnerships exist with retail providers to deliver services to consumers.

Additionally, local government and planning agencies are encouraging developers to install FTTP infrastructure and services in new estates through various means. For example:

  • the ACT Land Development Agency held a tender process for the construction of broadband infrastructure in the new suburbs of Forde and Franklin

  • under its planning powers the City of Whittlesea requires fibre optic conduit to be installed in new estates, and

  • the Sunshine Coast Regional Council has developed draft guidelines to assist developers with the roll‑out of fibre, including draft pit and conduit specifications, a draft smart building guideline and detailed information on what products are needed to provide FTTP.

The Australian Government is keen to build on these trends and encourage their continuation in new greenfield estates.

As noted, some local councils already have plans in relation to the installation of FTTP in greenfield estates. Others may wish to introduce such requirements before the Australian Government’s policy takes effect on 1 July 2010. The Australian Government would not wish to discourage such developments, and will work with all levels of government to promote consistency of requirements around installation of FTTP in greenfield estates.

The costs and benefits of providing telecommunications in greenfield estates

The cost of providing terrestrial-based telecommunications in greenfield estates today depends on the network technology deployed. One option is to install a legacy copper‑based network which can simply provide telephony services or can also provide fixed broadband services. Alternatively, a more sophisticated FTTP network can be installed.

Installing any telecommunications infrastructure in a greenfield estate involves costs that must be recovered. Currently these costs are typically shared between the developer, the carrier and the builder but ultimately they are passed through to consumers, for example, through land prices, building costs, up‑front installation costs or monthly charges. This needs to be kept in mind when considering the relative costs of different telecommunications solutions in greenfield estates.

The installation of copper and FTTP networks in greenfield estates involves many similar cost components. For example, both types of networks typically require backhaul capacity, trenching, pit and pipe infrastructure and distribution cabling. These elements are comparable in cost and make up a large proportion of the total costs of installing these networks.

There are, however, different elements required for a copper‑based network compared to a FTTP network.5 While elements can vary, when a like‑for‑like comparison is made, available estimates indicate that the cost per premises of a FTTP connection is higher than the cost per premises for a broadband‑capable copper‑based connection.

However, the cost difference is relatively modest compared to the total value of the house, the life of the investment and when considering the increased functionality of future‑proofed FTTP networks. The available evidence suggests the cost differential is in the order of $1500 per premises. At an estimated cost of $2500 per premises, the installation of FTTP would represent less than one percent of the cost of a $350 000 house and land package. The total cost per premises is comparable to, or even lower than, the cost of other utilities installed in greenfield estates.6

Often the modest size of this cost difference between copper and FTTP appears to be obscured by the different ways in which costs are currently recovered. While the costs of providing other utilities in greenfields are generally met by the developer (at least in some states), historically Telstra has provided key elements of the copper network and recovered the cost through its connection/installation and ongoing service charges, while developers cover other costs such as trenching.7

By contrast, when FTTP is installed, the provider typically seeks to recover a greater proportion of its installation costs up-front from the developer. This has created the perception that the cost difference to the end user between FTTP and copper is greater than is actually the case and this may have distorted developers’ decisions about what telecommunications technology to deploy.

While there is a greater cost associated with the installation of FTTP compared to copper, the available evidence suggests this is more than outweighed by the superior benefits of FTTP, particularly over the long term. This is reflected in the impact of FTTP on property values. The available information, including on international experience, suggests that consumers in new greenfield estates place a high value on the availability of FTTP and that this translates into higher capitalised house and land values compared to if legacy communications infrastructure is made available.

A small survey was undertaken by the Gungahlin Community Council in Canberra in August 2006 by Kevin Cox in association with Robin Eckermann. The survey asked respondents to indicate how they would react if a developer who had planned FTTP advised prospective buyers he had decided not to proceed with FTTP, but was willing to offer a discount on the house and land package. More than 60 per cent of respondents indicated no offer would be satisfactory; instead they would buy elsewhere. Of the remainder, 80 per cent indicated they would not proceed without compensation of at least $5000.

This is broadly consistent with evidence from developers in the US that indicates that consumers place significant value on having access to services delivered over FTTP infrastructure in greenfield estates. For example, a Fibre‑to‑the‑Home Council survey of home buyers and home developers in the US estimated that a direct fibre connection adds an average of more than US$5000 to the value of a home.8

It is also consistent with the increasing interest in FTTP from developers and carriers around Australia and overseas which indicates they see value in the deployment of FTTP technology in new estates, and that this is being advertised as a selling point.

For example, Telstra has stated:

‘There’s a real appetite in new estates for fibre, and the developers—quite rightly—see fibre as being a future‑proof technology. So they can use that to add value to their development, and they’re keen to put it in there.’9

The website for the Lochiel Park estate in South Australia states:

‘Fibre optic cabling throughout Lochiel Park will deliver high speed broadband to every home. This will enable video on demand, telephony, VoIP or voice over internet protocol, a community portal and high speed internet services. New purchasers will be offered an initial start‑up package.’10

Delivering FTTP technology in greenfield developments

The model which is adopted for the implementation of the fibre in greenfields initiative will be applied on a national basis. Therefore, greenfield estates in Tasmania will be subject to the same regime as the rest of the country, notwithstanding the early roll‑out of the NBN in that state.

Broadly, there are two potential models to ensure that FTTP infrastructure is installed in new greenfield estates that receive planning approval from 1 July 2010:

  1. the Australian Government could legislate to directly require developers to ensure pit, pipe and FTTP infrastructure and services are available to consumers, or

  2. the Australian Government could work with state, territory and local governments to require the installation of FTTP and could support this with legislation to prohibit the installation of non-fibre networks in greenfield estates.

Model 1 would have the benefit of directly requiring FTTP networks to be installed. However, it may not always be clear on whom the obligations should be placed, for example in a development that involves a number of developers or other entities at different stages of the process, or where local government or state planning bodies themselves may be involved in the development process. For this model to work effectively it will be necessary to identify particular stages at which FTTP must be installed. This may lead to a situation where developers are prevented from selling properties that do not have an FTTP connection.

While model 2 does not directly mandate the installation of FTTP, it recognises and leverages off the role that local governments and planning authorities already play in provision of utilities in greenfield developments. This may be appropriate as requiring FTTP in greenfields is essentially a planning requirement and therefore most appropriately dealt with under planning laws. Developers are most likely to be familiar with these laws and there is immediate contact between developers and local government. The Commonwealth could support this with legislation to prohibit the installation of non-fibre networks in greenfield estates.

Considering these options, the Australian Government considers that model 1 may be unduly cumbersome and therefore model 2 is the suggested approach. However, the Australian Government is seeking feedback on this issue.


1.What are the relative merits of the models outlined? Which is the preferable approach? Why?

Role of government

If model 2 is adopted, the Australian Government would work with state, territory and local governments to include requirements to facilitate the deployment of optical fibre in greenfield estates. Even if model 1 were adopted there may still be an important role for state, territory and local governments in providing clarity to developers and other stakeholders given their close engagement with them.

To assist with the implementation of this national initiative, the Australian Government could work with state, territory and local governments on the development of planning laws, by‑laws and planning guidelines. The Australian Government could undertake a range of measures to support the implementation of such requirements, such as:

  • assisting with the development of model laws, templates for planning requirements and network and in‑building cabling specifications for use by planning authorities

  • facilitating the development of national guidelines for network design, and

  • developing educational tools for relevant industry participants, builders and consumers on the new requirements.

In addition to assisting local councils and planning authorities, the development of such tools could help provide consistent requirements between local government areas, reducing compliance costs for developers who work across council boundaries.

State and territory planning laws could require developers and builders, as appropriate, to ensure:

  • pit and pipe infrastructure is installed that would be appropriate for the deployment of FTTP and which, potentially, would allow competitive infrastructure provision in the future (for example sufficient space for more than one cable)

  • appropriate FTTP infrastructure is installed ready for connection to new premises

  • appropriate cabling is installed within new premises to allow practical use of FTTP capability

  • open access wholesale services are available on a non‑discriminatory basis, and

  • retail services are available from at least one retail provider.

Large greenfield estates often include commercial centres, schools, medical clinics and other community facilities which may need higher grade services than residential customers. The Australian Government considers e‑health and e‑education will be important users of superfast broadband. Planning requirements may also need to ensure the FTTP requirements of such users are factored into developers’ and service providers’ planning.

The provision of telecommunications services is generally outside the core business of developers. As such the Australian Government envisages, as is increasingly the case already, developers contracting out the provision of these services on a competitive basis to relevant commercial firms. A key issue for developers would be to select arrangements that provide for the ongoing provision of services. In this context, as noted, the Australian Government expects the increasing development of integrated build and operate packages for developers by telecommunications service providers.


2.Is any action required by the Australian Government to facilitate local councils and planning authorities requiring the installation of FTTP facilities?

3.Would the preparation of model laws, templates and/or national specifications or guidelines assist local councils and planning authorities with implementation?

4.Would the development of educational tools for industry assist? If so, what?

5.Would the introduction of a certification system for the installation and performance of FTTP networks be beneficial?

6.To what extent is a nationally co‑ordinated approach preferable to one where state and territory or local governments take the lead?

Other roles and responsibilities

Figure 2 summarises the types of obligations that could apply to FTTP in greenfield estates, on whom they could fall and the source of these obligations.


Party obliged to comply

Source of obligation



Local government planning rules

Pit and pipe infrastructure


Local government planning rules

FTTP infrastructure


Local government planning rules

In‑building cabling


Local government planning rules or building codes

Wholesale services


Developer’s contract

Retail services

Carriage service provider

Developer’s contract

Figure 2 Summary of possible roles and responsibilities.

Entities responsible for the FTTP infrastructure used for the supply of services to the public would be carriers. As such they would also be subject to carrier requirements under telecommunications and trade practices law. Entities providing services using their own or other infrastructure would be carriage service providers and, again, they would be subject to the applicable regulatory arrangements under telecommunications and trade practices law.

The Australian Government recognises that there may be multiple developers involved at different stages of a development and that builders may be responsible for the final communications connections into buildings. Careful consideration will need to be given to the nature of the obligations throughout the development process.

Generally, it is expected that FTTP infrastructure to the property boundary would be installed at the same stage of development as other utility infrastructure. Connections to premises would then be made at the time the building is constructed just as other utilities are connected. Given the importance of communications in today’s world, it makes sense for premises to be communications‑ready at completion. Such an approach would also avoid the expense and inconvenience of retro‑fitting at a later date. The Australian Government understands connections in greenfields are typically done by the FTTP infrastructure provider or its contractor but views on whether this could be made a contestable market would be of interest.

With FTTP, battery backup systems need to be provided for lifeline services in the event of power failure. It would need to be made clear who is responsible for maintaining and testing batteries. This responsibility is likely to rest with consumers, the same way that it does with other safety equipment, such as fire alarms and smoke detectors.


7.If the Australian Government were to place obligations on developers and builders, at what stage of development should obligations be placed and on whom?

8.Is there scope for the provision of lead-ins in greenfields to be made contestable?

Possible legislation

If model 2 were adopted, it could involve the amendment of the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Telecommunications Act) to prohibit the installation of line links11 to premises in greenfield estates unless those links are fibre optic and have specified characteristics. Specific characteristics of the fibre links could be set out in regulations. This is an area where the conclusions of the Implementation Study may be important. Requirements of this kind could be replicated, if appropriate, in state, territory and local government planning documents of the type discussed above to provide guidance for developers.


A number of definitions will be important to the operation of any possible greenfields legislation.

Greenfield estates

The Australian Government considers that FTTP networks should be installed in greenfield estates regardless of whether the development is zoned residential, business, commercial, industrial or mixed use. The requirement would also include major urban in‑fill projects.

That said, an open question for consideration is how a ‘greenfield estate’ should be defined in this context. Current thinking is that there should be a minimum number of lots for the FTTP requirement to apply, but that this number should be as low as possible to avoid gaps in FTTP coverage. The Australian Government is seeking feedback on this issue.

In terms of the boundaries of a greenfield estate, the Australian Government envisages these would be as set out in the planning approval concerned.

The Australian Government considers that in the case of staged developments or those involving multiple developers developing smaller parcels, the number of lots or premises would be determined based on the total across all stages of the development. However, it acknowledges that some developments may be rolled out over an extended period and that this would need to be recognised in greenfields FTTP arrangements. A holistic view of such developments could be taken through appropriate strategic planning documents of local government or planning authorities.

As noted the Australian Government envisages that the greenfields FTTP requirements would apply across Australia, subject to the definition of what is a greenfield estate. Such an approach could be subject to an exemption power to deal with exceptional cases or cases where the installation of FTTP is not practical.


9.What is the appropriate number of lots or premises required for a development to qualify as a greenfield development requiring FTTP? What other issues or factors should inform the definition?

10.What mechanisms could be used to achieve a consistent approach across large developments involving multiple developers and/or over an extended period of time? For example, what provision should be made in relation to estates in which lots are released over a number of years?

Multi‑dwelling units and office blocks

It is envisaged that multi‑dwelling units, such as flats or office blocks, where the number of units or offices meets or exceeds the number of premises that would constitute an eligible greenfield estate would also require the installation of FTTP. Alternatively, given the potential cost and difficulty involved in retro-fitting wiring in multi‑dwelling units, a lower threshold could be set.

The appropriate point for termination of the optical fibre would depend on the size of the development. However, in all cases in‑building distribution that allows all units to receive services of at least 100 Mbps would be required.


11.Are there any special requirements for multi‑dwelling units or office blocks?

12.Should the threshold for the connection of FTTP for new multi-dwelling units be lower than other estates or should all new multi-dwelling units be connected with FTTP? What threshold, if any, should apply?


The Australian Government considers FTTP to mean infrastructure that provides for the connection of single dwellings or individual premises within multi‑dwelling units with fibre optic cabling from the optical fibre distribution centre to an optical network terminator (ONT) located at the customers’ premises (or similar equipment in multi‑dwelling units). Legislation would be able to provide for characteristics of FTTP networks in greenfields to be specified more fully in regulations.

The network should also include backhaul to an appropriate point of interconnection to the wider telecommunications network to provide for any‑to‑any connectivity and to support effective retail level competition. Depending on the development’s location, such points of interconnection may be a considerable distance or there may be a lack of competitive alternatives. The Australian Government has recognised the importance of backhaul in the provision of high quality FTTP services. The Implementation Study will consider the backhaul needs of the NBN company. The NBN initiative also includes a program to provide funding for existing backbone blackspots.

FTTP networks in greenfield estates should be capable of providing up to 100 Mbps over each connection and be upgradeable and scalable. A clear upgrade path to faster speeds is considered desirable. It is also expected that business grade services would be available to commercial and other relevant premises within estates.

The Australian Government is disposed to allowing providers flexibility as to how these outcomes are achieved. At the same time, however, it wants to ensure FTTP roll‑outs are future proof and interoperable and have a high degree of consistency across Australia. As noted above, the Australian Government could look at introducing templates, specifications or guidelines to this end.

The Implementation Study will also be important in establishing details of this definition.


13.What specified characteristics should be considered for the purposes of defining FTTP for greenfields?

14.Are there particular issues in relation to backhaul between the greenfield estate and point of interconnection to a national network that need to be considered?


The Australian Government acknowledges that there may be certain circumstances where it may be necessary to provide exemptions to the requirements for FTTP networks in greenfield estates. It is envisaged that the proposed arrangements could be constructed to give States or Local Councils some discretion in their planning approval process concerning the classification of developments as greenfield estates and the type of line links that can be installed. The Australian Government recognises that any exemptions may be more applicable in areas outside the fibre footprint of the NBN.


15.What exemption arrangements, if any, would be appropriate and how should they be administered?

16.Are there any particular circumstances under which developments should be exempt from the Australian Government’s requirements for FTTP in greenfields (for example, for large area subdivisions in rural and remote Australia)?

Commencement date

The Australian Government has indicated that the requirement to install FTTP in greenfield estates will apply to developments which receive planning approval on or after 1 July 2010.

In the case of developments that receive approval before 1 July 2010, there may be delays between the approval and the construction and sale of buildings. Therefore transitional measures may be appropriate.

Developments approved prior to 1 July 2010 but in which construction has not commenced or for which the provision of telecommunications infrastructure has not been contracted by 1 July 2010 could also be prohibited from installing networks that are not fibre optic except in exceptional circumstances.

Similarly any stages of multi‑stage developments approved prior to 1 July 2010 but in which construction has not yet commenced or in which the provision of telecommunications services has not yet been contracted could also be prohibited from installing networks that are not fibre optic except in exceptional circumstances.


17.Are there any factors that the Australian Government should be aware of in relation to the commencement of FTTP requirements?

18.Under what circumstances, if any, should transitional arrangements allow for the installation of copper–based infrastructure?

19.Should the FTTP requirement apply to developments approved before 1 July 2010 but for which telecommunications infrastructure has not yet been contracted or provided? What transitional arrangements may be appropriate in these circumstances?

Competition and regulatory framework

The Australian Government wants to continue to encourage trends towards private investment in FTTP in greenfield estates. Therefore, it is not the Australian Government’s intention that the NBN overbuild FTTP deployments in greenfield estates where these estates enjoy outcomes comparable to those to be delivered by the NBN. The Implementation Study will examine how the Australian Government can work with existing FTTP providers in greenfields.

In the longer term it might well be that the NBN company would compete with other providers for the contract to supply FTTP infrastructure and wholesale services in greenfield estates. This however, would be a matter for the NBN company.


20.Is the Australian Government’s intention that the NBN company not overbuild existing FTTP developments in greenfield estates appropriate?

21.Are there any specific issues that should be considered in relation to the role of the NBN company in greenfield estates?

More generally however, the Australian Government wants to continue to encourage the competitive supply of FTTP facilities and services in greenfield estates. Such competition can occur at a number of levels.

Competition to service greenfield estates

Competition can occur in relation to the installation of FTTP infrastructure in a greenfield estate. For example, developers can put to tender, or contract, for the provision of FTTP infrastructure in their developments to find the best solution for their needs. This is increasingly common. The Australian Government sees benefits in this continuing and will seek to encourage these developments.

Such competition may be facilitated by councils requiring the developers to install appropriate passive infrastructure such as the pit and pipe (i.e. conduit) networks during the construction of the estate. This is an approach that Whittlesea City Council has employed.12

Longer term infrastructure-based competition may also be fostered if such passive infrastructure is designed to support multiple providers of fibre. However, given the capacity of a single fibre network and its potential natural monopoly characteristics, it is unclear that competing fibre operators will readily emerge in greenfield estates and requiring such an investment may be wasteful.

Where access to pit and pipe infrastructure is required, it can be sought through the existing facilities access regime in Schedule 1 of the Telecommunications Act which provides for a carrier to access the infrastructure, such as ducts, of another carrier where there is sufficient capacity. The Australian Government is currently considering changes to this regime as part of its broader regulatory review process.


22.What measures could the Australian Government introduce to facilitate competition for the provision of FTTP infrastructure in greenfield developments?

23.Could the competitive provision of FTTP in greenfields be facilitated by a national online database of proposed developments accessible either publicly or to licensed carriers? Could this also assist with the planning of telecommunications infrastructure in such estates?

Competition at the services layer: access and equivalence

Given the likelihood that infrastructure‑based FTTP competition in greenfield sites may be limited, particularly in the short to medium term, the Australian Government wants to ensure that there is genuine open and equivalent access to wholesale services on bottleneck infrastructure in both new and existing greenfield estates. This includes access to wholesale services on equivalent price and non‑price terms and conditions. This will promote effective competition and choice in the delivery of services which will lead to better outcomes for consumers in these estates.

From the perspective of ensuring a competitive environment, the Australian Government does not consider that developers or FTTP service providers should be able to insist on exclusive wholesale or retail arrangements in greenfield developments which restrict entry of alternative providers. The Australian Government considers that customers are keen to have a choice of retail providers and are critical where developments do not have this feature.

Open access arrangements

To facilitate service-based competition, at a minimum, carriers providing FTTP services in greenfields would be subject to the access framework (as they potentially are now) set out in Part XIC of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Trade Practices Act). Any reforms made to Part XIC as part of the current review process would necessarily have regard to the operation of the new greenfield requirements.

Under Part XIC, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) can declare services provided over FTTP networks if declaration is found to be in the long term interest of end-users, thereby subjecting them to open access arrangements.

In the case of a FTTP network in a greenfield estate, this may, for example, require the declaration of a new bitstream access service which would allow retail providers to configure their services as desired, or resale type services which could include services providing voice, data (internet) or multicast video. Intermediary wholesale providers could also access such services, repackage and on‑sell them. Any relevant declaration by the ACCC could apply to existing FTTP networks in greenfield estates as well as new ones, addressing concerns about access to existing FTTP networks.

An alternative approach could be to legislate that all FTTP greenfield networks are open to access by all access seekers as a matter of course. This could occur through the identification of appropriate services for the purposes of Part XIC, for example, under statute or a new type of subordinate instrument.13 Terms and conditions of access could then be determined through the processes applying under Part XIC.

We welcome proposals on possible alternative access arrangements for greenfield estates but note that these would be considered in the context of the broader regulatory review. A matter that would need to be considered is whether multiple access regimes could emerge that could prove difficult and costly to administer.


In addition to services being accessible to access seekers, the Australian Government considers that access needs to be provided on equivalent terms so that all access seekers can compete on an equal footing in the retail market. This is a central theme in the Australian Government’s overall NBN reform package.

The most effective way to ensure genuine equivalence of access would be to ensure that FTTP infrastructure installed in greenfields from 1 July 2010 is operated on a wholesale‑only basis. This would be consistent with the NBN which will operate as a wholesale‑only network. The advantage of a wholesale‑only model is that it would ensure that retail service providers are not unfairly disadvantaged in competing for customers in the retail market. In turn, this would drive genuine competitive outcomes and choice in the interests of consumers.

This type of model is already in operation in Australia. For example, Opticomm is rolling out FTTP networks in Fernbrooke in Queensland, University Hill in Victoria and Lochiel Park in South Australia which it operates on a wholesale‑only basis. Competing retail providers will use these networks to supply internet, telephony, pay TV, free to air TV and other services to consumers in these estates. In Fernbrooke estate, Queensland, for example, there are already two competing retail providers, Cirrus and Internode, and more are expected.

An alternative approach would be to allow FTTP network operators in greenfields to also operate in the retail market providing there is an effective regulatory framework in place to ensure that all retail providers can receive equivalence of access. Suitable arrangements could be developed as part of an integrated package that could be put to developers by prospective FTTP providers. In Canberra, for example, TransACT has deployed FTTP and also provides retail services on the network, while offering access to other retailers.

While an integrated model may offer benefits to the operator, it will not necessarily guarantee wholesale services are provided on an equivalent basis as the FTTP network operator has the incentive to favour its own retail business.

The Australian Government will consider submissions from interested parties on how equivalence in greenfields can best be achieved.

The Australian Government recognises that a number of FTTP providers that have already rolled out FTTP networks in greenfield estates also provide retail services to consumers in these estates. In addition to TransACT, for example, nationally, Telstra has deployed FTTP in some greenfield estates where it delivers its Velocity service package. A question for consideration is whether new equivalence requirements being considered as part of the broader regulatory review could become relevant to these networks as the Australian Government on the basis that it is important consumers in these estates also enjoy the full benefits of competition.


24.Is it sufficient for access to wholesale FTTP services in greenfield estates to be delivered through the telecommunications‑specific access regime in Part XIC of the Trade Practices Act?

25.Should the ACCC conduct a Part XIC inquiry into the specification/definition of the access service to be supplied over FTTP networks, with particular reference to greenfield estates?

26.Should an alternative approach to providing access such as mandatory access to FTTP networks in greenfield estates be adopted? If so, what? Why?

27.Should it be mandatory that new FTTP networks in greenfield estates after 1 July 2010 be wholesale‑only networks? If introduced, should there be exceptions to this type of rule and if so how should they be administered?

28.What are the minimum equivalence arrangements that should be put in place to ensure wholesale services are provided on equivalent price and non‑price terms and conditions in greenfields?

29.Would it be appropriate and workable to have different access and equivalence arrangements for greenfield FTTP networks depending on whether or not they were operating before 1 July 2010?

Obligations to supply retail services

Using FTTP deployments in new greenfield estates, retail providers will be able to supply a range of retail services to end users, including voice, broadband and content services.

With the entry of new infrastructure and service providers in greenfields, the issue arises as to whether existing universal service arrangements which safeguard the delivery of telephony services should be revised for these areas.

In the absence of changes to the existing USO, Telstra would remain obliged to ensure reasonable availability of a standard telephone service on request in new greenfield estates, even where an alternative provider has installed an FTTP network. Under this scenario, Telstra could seek access to the FTTP infrastructure to provide these services. Alternatively it would remain free to determine the technology (other than copper‑based networks if these were precluded by new legislation) it uses to fulfil its USO. In the absence of any modification of the USO, it would be Telstra’s commercial decision to offer other services (e.g. broadband internet) in the estate.

An alternative is that, in the event that a FTTP network is installed by another carrier and there are other retailers offering services on that network in a greenfield development, Telstra could be relieved of its obligations as the universal service provider and these obligations could be transferred to another party. In this scenario, any changes made to the USO requirements in these areas may need to be contemplated in the context of the broader regulatory review.

Retail pricing

The wholesale pricing arrangements that are put in place under the open access model proposed above would form the basis for the level of retail pricing. It is therefore important that effective wholesale arrangements are in place, including regulatory oversight, to ensure that consumers benefit at a retail level. It is envisaged that, where relevant, access prices would be subject to ACCC oversight through the operation of the Part XIC regime. Moreover, as discussed above, pricing would be a factor that would generally be considered in the selection of a provider to roll‑out FTTP infrastructure in a greenfields estate.

If Telstra were a retail provider on the greenfields FTTP infrastructure, it would be subject to the price control arrangements that would apply to it generally. Currently, other retail providers would not be subject to direct price regulation. However, the proposed model envisages strong competition between retail providers to keep downward pressure on prices at this level. Whether greater regulation of prices in greenfield estates would be necessary or workable, would need to be considered in the broader regulatory context. Nevertheless views are welcome on this issue.


30.Should Telstra continue to be the universal service provider in greenfield estates where FTTP is deployed by an alternative provider and retail providers are able to use these networks to supply voice services?

31.If Telstra should continue as the universal service provider in greenfield estates, would it continue to be appropriate for Telstra to determine the technology it uses to fulfil its USO in those areas?

32.If Telstra were not to continue as the universal service provider, what, if any, obligations should be imposed on whom to ensure that consumers continue to have access to basic telephony services in greenfield estates?

33.Will the proposed greenfields model deliver satisfactory retail pricing outcomes? If not, would new mechanisms to regulate prices in greenfields be necessary and workable? What form might such mechanisms take? What would be the implications for such mechanisms on the broader market?

Other safeguards and requirements

As a general principle, other existing safeguards would continue to apply to carriers and carriage service providers in greenfield estates. For example, carriers would be subject to requirements in relation to interception and assistance to law enforcement agencies. Carriage service providers are subject to requirements including the Customer Service Guarantee and requirements around the provision of emergency call services.14

These safeguards may be modified in the future depending on the outcome of the regulatory review. If strong separation arrangements between wholesale and retail operations were required in greenfields, some regulatory changes may also be useful to ensure consumer and other safeguards touching on both levels of operation could still operate effectively.


As part of these arrangements carriers or councils could report to the Australian Communications and Media Authority or another appropriate body on new developments, total premises and the numbers passed and connected by FTTP. Reporting should however, be kept to a minimum so as to minimise the burden on industry players.


34.How would progress in delivering FTTP in greenfield estates be best monitored and reported?


If the installation of FTTP by developers was required under telecommunications law (model 1), non‑compliance would be subject to the sanctions under the Telecommunications Act.

If the installation of fibre in greenfields was required under planning law (model 2), developers would be subject to sanctions under existing local government planning laws.

Breaches of a prohibition on the roll‑out of non‑FTTP fixed line networks would be subject to sanctions under the Telecommunications Act (model 2).

Other obligations falling on carriers and carriage service providers would be subject to sanctions under the Telecommunications Act or the Trade Practices Act. ...


35.What further steps should be undertaken to support this initiative?

36.Would the establishment of a stakeholder group assist with the implementation? If so, how many members would be appropriate, and who should be represented? What should be its terms of reference?...

1 The discussion paper is available at:

2 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) is readily achievable and FTTP provides a ready upgrade path to faster speeds.

3 For example, FTTP networks are capable of delivering services such as telephone, internet and content services, as well as security services such as closed circuit TV, smart metering for electricity other utilities and other advanced services.

4 Online and Communications Council, Framework for the collaborative development and use of broadband in Australia, December 2008

5 For example, the installation of a FTTP network may require headworks (eg network equipment and a secure shelter) in each estate, more sophisticated electronics in the form of the optical line terminator and optical network terminator (ONT) and different in-building wiring.

6 For example, a submission to the Public Works Committee by the Land Management Corporation (South Australia) estimated the per lot costs for one development to be $2500 for water, $3200 for stormwater, $4800 for power and $4800 for sewerage

7 This approach appears to have been influenced by Telstra’s interpretation of how it should meet its Universal Service Obligation (USO) in greenfields.


9 Telstra (Geoff Booth), Communications Day, 25 May 2009, p. 4


11 ‘Line link’ is the terminology used in the Act and essentially refers to cabling, including where cables are joined to one another to form a point-to-point link over a long distance.

12 Eckermann & Associates (for Multimedia Victoria), Aurora Fibre‑to‑the‑Home Case Study, August 2006, available from

13 This approach would be similar to the ‘deemed declarations’ introduced as a transitional measure in the Telecommunications (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Act 1997. The Act provided for existing interconnection services to be ‘deemed’ to be declared services. Under the proposed model it would be necessary to define the services that are required to be regulated.

14 These requirements are set out in the Australian Communications and Media Authority publication, Know your obligations, available at

From: National Broadband Network: Fibre-to-the-premises in greenfield estates - Consultation paper, Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, 29 May 2009.

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