Australia’s communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has called in to question the legality of plans put forward by TPG Telecom under which it aims to connect around 500,000 apartments with its own fibre-based network. According to the Australian Financial Review, Mr Turnbull is said to have revealed that the legality of such plans will be examined by the cost benefit analysis led by Dr Michael Vertigan into the National Broadband Network (NBN) project, with that study due to be complete by mid-2014.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in September 2013 TPG Telecom was said to be planning the construction of a wholesale fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) network in five cities, those being Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. With TPG expected to offer downlink speeds of up to 100Mbps over the network, it said that trials were expected to begin from the end of that year. Meanwhile, although the operator would have this network in urban areas, it said it expected to continue to use the NBN to supply broadband services to rural and regional areas.
While the NBN is reportedly protected from rival networks by anti-cherry picking legislation, the latest report claims that TPG aims to sidestep this by using a loophole that allows extensions of less than a kilometre for networks built before 2010. Commenting on TPG’s plans, Mr Turnbull was cited as saying: ‘TPG would have to do that within the limitations of the law … There are some grandfathering provisions and we haven’t got any plans to change those … It’s yet to be seen how much scope they’ve got for that.’