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August 09 Edition Cover

Owners fear widespread fibre campaign

04 Jun 2014

Owners fear widespread fibre campaign Image

High-rise owners corporations are concerned about being locked out of the NBN due an aggressive fibre installation campaign by a TPG-owned company.

PIPE Networks (a TPG subsidiary) has told owners corporations (OC) in Docklands and in other high-density areas across Australia that it will be installing fibre facilities in their buildings.

A loophole in the Telecommunications Act has allowed PIPE Networks to build its Fibre-to-the-Basement (FTTB) network across high-rise suburbs in Australia and it aims to deliver FTTB connections to 500,000 apartments.

Under current legislation, carriers of telecommunications services have the power to install low-impact facilities in buildings, even where OCs resist the installation.

Dock 5 OC received a letter from PIPE Networks in March and sought legal advice before requesting the issue be referred to the telecommunications ombudsman.

Dock 5 OC committee member Tom Burt fears residents will miss out on the NBN roll out if PIPE Networks installs FTTB in the building first.

This view is backed up by Strata Title Lawyers’ Tom Bacon, who said Pipe Networks would enjoy a commercial advantage if is was first to install its infrastructure within buildings.

“A suburb, such as Docklands, which is home to a number of large residential towers, is an attractive target for telecommunications suppliers, and if most or all units in the building are forced to switch to one particular carrier for their internet and phone-line services, then the carrier stands to gain an increased market share and a substantial increase in revenue,” Mr Bacon said.

Mr Bacon said the installation of TPG infrastructure wouldn’t stop NBN or other telecommunications providers from installing similar infrastructure, but said the presence of two types of DSLAM systems could cause system interference and performance degradation.

“It may therefore, not be economically viable for the NBN or other internet/telecommunications service providers to install their own equipment in a particular building,” Mr Bacon said.

According to Mr Bacon, other providers may need to rent or lease the rights to share the infrastructure from TPG or decline providing the service altogether.

NBN Co is aware of PIPE Networks’ campaign and issued a statement in April saying it would bring forward its roll-out to apartments and office buildings in Australia’s inner-city in response to emerging competition in these markets.

NBN CEO Bill Morrow said: “A building that signs up to TPG runs the risk of being left with only one retail service provider – TPG itself.”

“The NBN levels the playing field for Australian telecommunications and creates real and vibrant competition. We can make this statement because the NBN doesn’t sell directly to consumers and is open to all retail service providers to use on equal terms,” Mr Morrow said.

“Vertically-integrated carriers – companies that both own networks and market to consumers – cannot offer those same guarantees,” he said.

Not all Docklands tower are concerned, however, with some building spokepersons saying TPG’s approach could result in a welcomed increase in competition.

A Pipe Networks spokesperson said competition in telecommunications services was fantastic for consumers.

He said the installation work cost the body corporates nothing so there were benfits to be gained for occupants with no outlay.

"It is fair to say there has been a variety of reactions from body corporates," the spokesperson said.

" Some have been extremely supportive and PIPE has installed its equipment in those buildings."

"Some have not understood the nature of the LAANs (Land Access and Activity Notices) and have sought more information. Others have been less positive and have chosen to reject PIPE's notices for inspection or installation. We are working through the process with each of the body corporates."

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