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TPG unplugs NBN rival fibre to the basement service

Requirement to create wholesale service proves too painful

Junior telco TPG has decided it will not proceed with a fibre to the basement (FTTB) product.

TPG last year decided it would go after the FTTB market, which largely comprises large apartment buildings in which fibre to the premises is impractical. Building FTTB rigs and acting as a retailer was eminently possible under prevailing regulations. TPG was able to steal a march from NBN Co, the company building Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN), and panic it into hurrying its own FTTB plans.

Late last year, however, regulators shifted the goalposts and insisted that TPG’s FTTB service also be offered as a wholesale service to rival retailers.

TPG is clearly finding that requirement onerous, as it has posted a notice saying “On 14 December 2014, we were advised of a regulation that precludes us from selling our FTTB products after 1 January 2015 unless we have taken certain steps. There has been insufficient time to complete those steps before 1 January so until we complete the required changes we are required to remove our FTTB products from sale.”

The telco says it will “contact you the moment they become available again for sale.” TPG’s move is interesting, as its entry to the FTTB market was seen as diluting the concept that the NBN would become Australia’s sole provider of broadband, with retailers to enjoy equal access to its network. TPG isn’t saying it will quit FTTB forever. Nor is it saying it has the appetite to perform the required corporate gymnastics required to separate its wholesale and retail arms in order to do so. Those efforts aren’t trivial – companies need a separate entity, no mean feat for a listed company like TPG. ®

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