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Editions

Duplicate fibre optic network

29 May 2012

Duplicate fibre optic network Image

By Daniel Kemp

Despite being the national home of NBN Co, Docklands looks like it will have to wait years to be connected to the National Broadband Network.

This is despite already having fibre optic infrastructure which most residents can’t use.  And, when the NBN is finally connected, it will most likely be in the form of a completely duplicated fibre network.

Docklands’ existing fibre network, known as iPORT, was announced in 2004 amid fanfare about how it would deliver high-speed internet access and free phone calls between residents. But very few Docklands residents have access to it almost eight years on.

The remarkable duplication of the network appears to be approaching following the release of a policy paper by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE).

The paper outlines the DBCDE’s “adequately served” policy – specifically the criteria and assessment process which a service provider must meet in order for its network to be considered as “adequately serving” a given area.

The sixth criterion on the list is most relevant to Docklands, stating that the service provider must provide a connection to all residences within its footprint. Crucially, all of these connections must be made using optical fibre as outlined in NBN Co’s mission statement. iPORT does not meet this requirement, as currently the fibre only extends to the basements of most residential towers – and NextGen does not intend to undertake the costly internal connections.

When asked about whether they would still apply to the DBCDE to have iPORT considered as “adequately serving” Docklands, NextGen Networks said it was still considering its options.

The positive outcome of all of this is that every apartment will definitely be connected to the network by fibre. But rather than NextGen plugging the gaps in the existing network it is likely to involve rolling out an entirely new network.

A spokesperson for NBN Co assured Docklands residents that they would not have to wait the full 10 years to see the rollout, but there is still no firm timetable despite the presence of the network’s central operational hub right here in Docklands.

“Construction is starting at points where NBN Co has access to exchanges that will be the centre of the rollout for a given area,” the spokesperson said.

“Once the fibre rollout starts in an area, it will keep fanning out from the exchange until the whole fibre serving area is covered.”

“The NBN will progressively cover all of an area within a given fibre footprint once work begins,” the spokesperson continued. “As a result, suburbs in the same fibre serving area as adjacent suburbs that are in the three-year plan should not have to wait 10 years for the rollout to reach them.”

With the neighbouring areas of Footscray and the CBD currently in the three-year plan, there is hope that Docklands will not have to wait too much longer.

There is an exception to NBN Co’s fibre requirements when a building has Cat 6 wiring installed, but Docklands News understands that the majority of residential towers in Docklands are fitted with Cat 5 wiring. This means that the only solution is for NBN Co to roll out a whole new fibre network parallel to iPORT.

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