NBN Co has sent out expressions of interest (EOI) to all of its retail service providers (RSPs) today to take part in a three-month fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) pilot which will start in January 2014 across Australia.
The EOI was issued under the auspices of the company’s product development forum. All RSPs who have signed a wholesale broadband agreement with NBN Co are members of the forum. RSPs have until 29 November to respond to the EOI.
According to NBN Co, up to 10 large office complexes and apartment blocks comprising a total of approximately 1000 homes and offices will receive the FTTB service.
An NBN Co spokesman told Computerworld Australia that it will choose the 10 locations in consultation with the RSPs that participate in the pilot.
“It is expected that the pilot will have broad geographical reach,” he said.
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Under the FTTB pilot, fibre optic cables will be delivered to a node which is located in the communications room of the office complex or apartment block. The node connects to existing wiring, allowing RSPs to deliver high speed broadband to customers.
According to NBN Co's spokesman, data collected from the pilot will assist it to develop future services.
He said the EOI document issued by NBN Co states that if adopted following pilot activities and future development, FTTB technology would “likely become” an additional access platform to the fibre, fixed wireless and satellite platforms already in development.
The FTTB pilot is a direct response to Communications Minister Malcom Turnbull’s interim statement of expectations (PDF) issued on 24 September 2013 which provides NBN Co with the flexibility to use a wider range of technologies to connect Australians to the NBN.
The interim statement also instructs the NBN Co to continue to roll out the network as cost effectively as possible while a new board is chosen, independent audit undertaken and a new strategic plan drafted.
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