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NBN Co takes over legacy networks from Telstra and Optus

A new deal will see NBN Co take over ownership of Telstra and Optus' legacy copper and HFC networks, saying it will help connect customers to a "multi-technology" NBN more quickly.

NBN Co

In a deal that has been three years in the making, NBN Co has negotiated to take over ownership of Telstra and Optus' legacy copper and HFC networks, which it says will speed up the delivery of broadband Australians.

The multi-billion dollar deal replaces an earlier agreement between the telcos and NBN Co, and will see NBN Co deliver on its of the NBN using newly-built fibre as well as existing copper and hybrid fibre coaxial infrastructure, previously owned by Telstra and Optus.

Rather than disconnecting customers from copper and fibre networks to bring them over to fibre (through the FTTP rollout slated under the previous government) NBN Co will continue to use existing copper and HFC networks, in combination with fibre, to deliver broadband.

According to a statement from Telstra, the telco will continue to disconnect homes and businesses from its networks, "however, where NBN Co uses the copper and HFC networks to deliver an NBN service, Telstra will progressively transfer ownership, and the operational and maintenance responsibilities for the relevant copper and HFC assets, to NBN Co".

Similarly, Optus says it will transfer ownership of its HFC cable to NBN Co, "while retaining ownership of strategic aerial fibre assets used to connect mobile base stations and business customers".

Telstra and Optus will both continue to offer network services in places where the NBN is yet to be built or where customers have not yet been migrated over to the NBN, meaning customers should see continued service during the changeover. Telstra says it will also continue to offer Foxtel pay TV services thanks to continued access to the HFC network, negotiated with NBN Co.

Despite the new deal, NBN Co says it will only use the newly acquired copper and HFC networks where it is practical to do so.

"The deal basically gives us the option to use the network if we want to," NBN Co Head of Strategy JB Rousselot told business technology site ZDNet.

"We'll do the detailed due diligence when we get to each of the specific areas, and that's when we'll make the decision whether we roll out using the copper network, or if we use some fibre technology."

Despite NBN Co officially ditching plans for further FTTP rollout, the company's CEO Bill Morrow also previously indicated that the technology may be utilised where existing infrastructure "is not in the condition that we had expected it to be in or above the threshold level that we need it to be in".

Despite this, Morrow said the new deal with Telstra and Optus would bring down NBN build costs overall, allowing NBN Co "to complete the rollout much earlier than originally anticipated with less disruption to residents and communities".

"Making use of technologies such as copper and HFC -- rather than decommissioning them -- enables Australia to capitalise on the significant investments being made globally in broadband technology," he said.