Developers may shun greenfield fibre bill

Govt pushes FttH mandate

Senator Stephen Conroy

Senator Stephen Conroy

The government may face opposition from real estate developers objecting to a proposal to mandate fibre-to-the-home in greenfield sites.

Under the proposed legislation, from the 1 July 2010 real estate developers will be required to include Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH) in greenfield development applications.

Fibre provider Opticomm general manager [[artnid: 257919|Stephen Davis|new]] said developers may oppose the mandate to avoid incurring costs.

“The development community will oppose it to a certain extent. Decades ago [developers] only needed to clear trees, now they pay for all the infrastructure and hand it over,” Davis said.

“Deploying FttH will cost less than 1 percent of the typical price of a lot of land and is the least expensive of any utilities — power and sewerage is about $4800.”

The FttH push is designed to ensure penetration of smartgrids and services such as e-health, where fast Internet access is a by-product, Davis said, and to save money during the production of the National Broadband Network (NBN).

“Water, power and sewerage is mandated in metropolitan areas, which makes sense, and while telecommunications might not be an essential service now, it is becoming more critical especially considering the importance of emerging services,” he said.

Several housing developers told Computerworld FttH has been built into real estates for a decade, and that most organisations will side with the government's mandate. A small Sydney-based developer said organisations that have shirked FttH deployments will likely oppose the proposal on the grounds of cost.

A spokesperson for Mirvac Group said it considers the mandate a positive move and expects to participate in the federal government's call for consultation.

Communications minister Stephen Conroy said the government will engage stakeholders before deciding on the mandate.

“Forward-thinking property developers are already moving to provide the very latest technology and avoid costly retro-fitting as fibre broadband becomes the standard,” Conroy said.

“There is evidence that the installation of Fibre-to-the-Premises technology increases the value of homes in greenfield estates.” Conroy quoted a FttH Council survey which claims the technology can increase house value by US$5000.

The government's consultation process will close on 12 June this year and is available for comment here.

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