The National Broadband Network’s (NBN) Multi Technology Mix (MTM) rollout is giving way to a “two-tiered” network, according to Joel Harris, managing director of Tasmanian telco and NBN reseller, TasmaNet.
“With the onslaught and the onboarding of new technologies such as fibre-to-the-node (FttN) and fibre-to-basement (FttB), there are significant differences between the fibre component of the network, fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) and fibre-to-the-node components,” Harris told the Parliamentary committee reviewing the network’s rollout, in a public hearing on 24 July.
While the potential disparities between the various technologies used in the government’s preferred MTM rollout for the national network is nothing new to consumers and network retail service providers (RSPs) alike, Harris outlined how the imbalances emerging as a result of the current technology mix are affecting resellers.
“One of the other things that frustrates us as a small company – and I believe this also frustrates larger companies – is that the NBN network is becoming a two-tiered network,” he said. “It is also not a ubiquitous network.
“We can no longer have a single termination device for all our customers. We now need to stock two, because it's almost impossible to source a device that can terminate fibre to the node and fibre to the premises.
“Also, fibre-to-the-node requires normally two visits, mainly because there're generally problems with the connectivity – either incorrect pairs being terminated, being unable to find the pairs within a building and things like that, or the quality of the pairs just isn't up to scratch."
The MTM approach to the NBN rollout came about thanks to an election promise by the Coalition government to roll out the network faster, and at a lower cost, than the previous administration’s fibre-heavy model would allow for.
However, the difficulties presented by the existing technology choices – or lack thereof, depending on the individual premises being connected – necessitates a two-tiered go-to market approach for players like TasmaNet.
“We've actually had to change our marketing and our go-to market and separate out the marketing strategy around fibre-to-the-node from fibre-to-the-premises, all because the expectations are different,” Harris said.
Discussing the different options open to NBN resellers such as TasmaNet under the current technology mix, Harris said that the widely used fibre-to-the-node technology will inevitably have to be replaced at some point, largely due to the reliance on existing copper cabling over varying distances to premises – a factor that has drawn almost continuous criticism from some industry quarters.
This last point was also flagged by the CEO of Launceston RSP, Launtel, and fellow Tasmanian, Damian Ivereigh, who warned the Parliamentary Committee reviewing the NBN rollout that Australia can expect to further issues to arise result of the MTM rollout.
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