NBN mainland trial sites announced

The first five sites where the high-speed broadband fibre-to-the premises national broadband network will be rolled out as part of live trials have been announced.

Speaking at a media conference in Sydney, NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley said the trials would validate network design, construction and installation techniques to test the requirements of the NBN across a range of different geographies and climates.

The sites, Quigley said, had also been selected based on their demographics and ability to support a sample pool of at least 3000 premises.

The first site, Brunswick in Melbourne, will have around 2600 premises connected as part of the trial.

Townsville in Queensland will have around 3100 premises connected, while Minnamurra and Kiama on the South Coast of NSW, will have around 2600 premises connected.

An area in west Armidale in NSW, including the university of new England will connect around 2900 premises.

The rural town of Willunga in South Australia will have around 1000 premises connected.

Quigley said that NBN Co would now issue a request for proposal to do the detail design work on each of the trial sites.

This would be followed up in a number of months by a request for tender to identify providers to construct the passive, then active elements of the NBN at these sites.

Following the design phase, construction work on the first release rollout is expected to start early in the second half of the year and be complete by early 2011.

This would be followed by a tender for retail providers of high speed broadband over the built NBN infrastructure, Quigley said.

Commenting on Telstra’s letter to shareholders this morning, Minster for Broadband, Communication and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, said the Government would consider Telstra’s concerns over the legislation’s potential to set the NBN Co up as a retail and wholesale high speed broadband supplier.

“The reason we issued a draft proposal was to get industry comment… we look forward to robust comment,” he said.

“Telstra’s share price went below three dollars before this bill [was issued],” Conroy said responding to questions around whether the Draft Legislation had excessively affected Telstra’s share price.

“Mike (Quigley) and I are engaged constantly with Telstra in dialogue. I don’t believe there are any games being played at all. The negotiations are extraordinarily complex,” he added commenting on the state of current negotiations with Telstra over the split of the company.

Quigley added that recent spectulation that the retail prices of NBN services would far higher than current broadband pricing was "ridiculous".

"We will be pricing at market to be competitive to get people on to the network," he said.

More information on the test sites is available online

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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