Telstra's fibre optic network open for wholesale

  • Telstra's fibre optic network open for wholesale
  • Wholesale will enable ISPs to compete and "offer greater choice for end-users", Senator Steven Conroy says
  • ACCC to have regulatory power

Communications minister Senator Steven Conroy announced yesterday that Telstra would be opening up its new fibre optic network in South Brisbane for wholesale.

The news may come as welcome, albeit grudging, relief to other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who have denounced Telstra's move from copper to fibre optic in South Brisbane last September. Telstra moved to fibre optic after having to decommission the telephone exchange in South Brisbane to make way for the new hospital, and many ISPs complained about Telstra's failure to provide equivalent services to what they had on the copper network.

In September 2011 iiNet CEO Michael Malone was reluctant to make the switch to fibre optic, highlighting the inability to access old services, such as IP TV, and thus being unable to provide iiNet's customers with the same deal the customer signed up to. Malone said that Telstra had given the ISPs no choice about moving to fibre optic, as any refusal to do so would have meant Telstra cutting off any affected customers.

The wholesale service will hopefully return some balance to the ever-biased scales of Telstra vs. other ISPs, as ISPs will once again be able to offer deals on their own terms in South Brisbane and Greenfield.

The ACCC will have regulatory power over Telstra to ensure that Telstra upholds its commitment to offer fair and open service to ISPs wishing to buy fibre optic.

Senator Conroy said: "Provision of the wholesale service will support competition between service providers on these networks and offer greater choice for end-users."

As the National Broadband Network (NBN) continues to roll on out, this move was to fulfil a condition of the Telstra networks being exempted from regulatory arrangements under Parts 7 and 8 of the Telecommunications Act 1997. Opening the fibre optic network for wholesale forms part of the transitory period as Telstra prepares for its structural split and defines its position as a competitor to the NBN – if it is allowed to do so.

This new wholesale option along with their recent decision to offer up the 3G mobile network for wholesale might lead to Telstra wholesaling the rest of their Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) network in future, as they reposition themselves in light of the NBN.

At the South Brisbane Exchange, the following providers can offer broadband:

TPG: 1300 106 571
Eftel: 1300 106 571
Club Telco: 1300 138 155