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TPG temporarily halts fibre rollout

05 Feb 2015

TPG was forced to halt its fibre-to-the-basement (FTTB) campaign after the Federal Government introduced new regulations last month.

The company said it would recommence its campaign by the end of January.

However, at the time of printing TPG’s website indicated the FTTB campaign was yet to restart.

TPG-owned company Pipe Networks had been attempting to install FTTB connections to 500,000 apartments in high-density areas throughout Australia, including Docklands, the CBD and Southbank, in direct competition with the NBN.

But in early January, TPG posted a notice stating it has been advised of a regulation that precluded it from selling FTTB products unless it had taken “certain steps.”

“There has been insufficient time to complete those steps before January 1 so until we complete the required changes we are required to remove our FTTP products from sale,” the statement said.

On December 14, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull released a statement outlining the “Carrier Licence Conditions Declaration”, which requires affected carriers to offer wholesale services on a non-discriminatory basis and to separate their wholesale and retail businesses.

As of January 1, carriers were required to offer wholesale services on a non-discriminatory basis and as of July 1 will need to have separate wholesale and retail companies with separate directors, management, staff and operational support systems.

According to the statement, the wholesale company will be required to supply services to other service providers on the same terms it supplies them to its own retail companies.

TPG spokesperson Tony Moffatt said: “We aim to return to selling services on the FTTB network by the end of January”.

When TPG began its FTTB campaign, both owners’ corporations and NBN Co raised concerns that buildings which signed up to TPGs network would be restricted to using TPG as its sole provider.

TPG was techinically allowed to compete with the NBN Co because its fibre network was already in the ground before 2011.

Networks that were capable of supplying high-speed broadband services to small businesses or residential customers before January 1, 2011 were not caught by level playing field provisions as long as they did not extend their existing network footprint by more than a kilometre.

Jane Kinsey, national development manager for local provider Harbour ISP, said she was happy the Government had intervened, as its action has levelled the playing field.

“Under the NBN approach, all service providers have an equal opportunity to attract the business of individual apartment dwellers,” she said.  “The ability to choose is the most important thing.”

The introduction of the new rules comes after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announced in September last year that it would not be taking action to block TPG’s FTTB network rollout.

The commission ruled that TPG was technically allowed to compete with NBN Co in the race to connect FTTB within the apartment tower market because its fibre network was already in the ground before 2011, making use of a loophole in federal law.

Following the ACCC’s decision Mr Turnbull released a statement saying he proposed to consult the industry on the new telecommunications licence conditions.

Now that the new conditions have been introduced, the ACCC will be responsible for monitoring compliance with the new rules.

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