While legislation is now in place for all new housing developments to be linked to fibre networks, the reality is rather different.
The problem with new developments is that they are taking place in virgin territories, and the problem with new areas is that they are starting off as rather isolated islands. There is always a road somewhere that the new developments can be connected to, but this doesn’t apply to broadband.
Most of the time there is no ‘fibre exchange’ or fibre backhaul that these new areas can be linked to. While this is nothing new – these problems were already known and flagged around 2007 in the discussions relating to the NBN at the 'Greenfield' workgroups – the situation is now becoming more acute because of the new legislation.
As it would be unacceptable to leave these new developments without telecommunications we now see that copper is still being (illegally) brought into these areas, and that Telstra is extending its ADSL2+ (Top Hat) network into them, and/or that mobile networks have to do the job for the time being.
Unfortunately, as I have flagged several times, this is a problem of the company’s own making. While the Greenfield telco industry had its own ideas they were overruled by NBN Co. This organisation already had far too many problems of its own, so the 'Greenfield' issue ended up in the too hard basket, where it stayed for far too long.
Without backbones in place before these new developments are commenced the problem will continue, and will increase in severity, as more and more people who are under the impression that they will get Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) will be confronted with a potentially poorer broadband service than the one they had in their previous brownfield environment.
There is no easy solution to this but it certainly requires extra attention and extra funding – at least partly because of poor policies and poor planning on the part of NBN Co.
Paul Budde is the managing director of BuddeComm, an independent telecommunications research and consultancy company, which includes 45 national and international researchers in 15 countries.