Australia's NBN gaining customers

Dylan Bushell-Embling
13 Jan 2012

Australia's National Broadband Network is picking up traction among both wholesale and retail customers.

After months of talks, NBN Co - the company set up to operate the wholesale fiber network - has now signed commercial contracts with at least 21 retail service providers, Sydney Morning Herald said.

ISPs Primus, iiNet and Internode yesterday became the latest to agree to a 12-month commercial agreement.

Each had already been offering trial services at early-stage rollout sites, but telcos had been unsatisfied with the proposed terms of the commercial contract. The operators feared the terms left NBN Co with limited liability in the event of network faults.

But after five rounds of industry consultation, the agreement now appears satisfactory to operators. Incumbents Telstra and Optus are now expected to sign their own contracts in the coming days.

Earlier this year, NBN Co revealed that by the end of 2011, there were more than 4,000 homes and businesses connected to the network, including 2,315 hooked up to fiber and 1,700 on interim satellite services.

The government-led NBN project aims to connect 93% of Australian premises with fiber by 2021, with the remaining 7% of the population to be served by wireless and satellite.

But the project is not without its detractors – most notably the political opposition, which has repeatedly threatened to scrap the project if it wins power.

The NBN could face more opposition, from telecom company Macquarie Telecom. Macquarie has urged regulator ACCC to reject Telstra's structural separation undertaking, which is a condition of the operator's $11 billion deal to supply infrastructure and migrate its customers to the NBN.

According toThe Australian, Macquarie argues that the undertaking fails to establish rules that would require Telstra to treat its own retail business and its rivals equally.

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