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nbn™ needs copper to build FTTN: another 15,000 km of it

Some greenfields won't get fibre, company tells Senate

Remediating and backfilling copper networks for Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) was always going to need new copper, and now Australians know how much: 15,000 kilometres.

The supplier of that copper, Prysmian, will be happy: nbn™, the company building and operating the NBN has written to a senate committee naming it as having scored the lucrative gig. But others aren't happy because the letter explains the copper will be used in remediating twisted pair and hybrid fibre-coax networks. The letter also says that eight percent of greenfield sites will be put on fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) connections by 2020.

Ever since the Abbott government's shift from an all-fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) NBN build to a multi-technology mix (MTM), people buying in new developments were regarded as the lucky few who would always receive FTTP.

From a financial point of view, it seems like an odd decision: according to nbn™'s most recent financial presentation, greenfields FTTP connections cost AU$2,422, just $252 more than an FTTN connection ($2,170).

nbn™ told the committee FTTN would be connected to new developments where they were being built in existing FTTN areas.

Back in 2015, the company bought 1,800 km of copper for remediation and to patch-up FTTN cabinets.

The new purchase generated criticism from Australia's federal opposition, but at least Labor communications spokesperson Michelle Rowland's remark that the copper could “reach around Australia” is nowhere near as silly as the Sydney Morning Herald's outrage about the nbn™ coffee spend (about $500k a year for an organisation with 5,000 staff – about 27 cents per person per day). ®

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