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NBN Co defends copper network, Telstra negotiations

The CEO of NBN Co has warned against 'criticising the copper', defending the use of Telstra's existing network to deliver the NBN more quickly and for less money.


NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow has defended the "multi-technology mix" approach to the rollout of the NBN, saying "we have to be very careful whenever we criticise the copper."

According to Morrow, the country's existing copper infrastructure will be able to deliver the high speed services that Australians want now and into the future.

The comments come following the release of a Government-commissioned cost-benefit analysis that endorsed the Coalition Government's multi-technology NBN approach -- a plan that Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said would leave Australians "$16 billion better off" compared to the FTTP solution launched by the previous Labor Government.

But despite the proposed benefits of a mixed-technology copper and fibre network, this approach has come under fire for leaving Australians with what Opposition Communications Spokesperson Jason Clare has called a "second-rate" NBN.

Morrow today denied the reliance on Telstra's existing copper network would leave Australians worse off.

"I believe the copper facility is fine to be able to offer these higher speed services," he said. "I believe the way in which people voted around the choice of NBN with multi-technology mix or NBN with pure fibre to the premises...would imply that most Australians assume that this is perfectly acceptable to them.

Morrow said the speeds of 100Mbps that NBN Co had seen during FTTN trials had proven that NBN Co could build a network incorporating this technology "at far less taxpayer cost" and still allow users to enjoy the benefits of fast broadband.

NBN Co has been tasked with connecting 8 million premises to the network by 2020 -- the company has now confirmed it expects to pass the 1 million mark next year -- and Morrow said a multi-technology mix would help the company achieve this goal within budget. However, he noted that it could be expanded upon at a later date.

If the future holds that we grow from 77GB to 700GB of consumption, just as an example, that does not preclude us from saying, 'Fine, we're going to stretch this fibre further out to the home at that time'.

If you're building motorways, you build three or four lanes today, you don't build the rest of them. But you have a plan that, should population increase, should the number of automobiles on the road increase, then you build an added lane and you add to it.

But the move towards FTTN has not been without its problems. The CEO of iiNet last week said he was "furious" about the delays in the rollout, criticising Telstra's involvement.

Morrow conceded that as far as negotiations with Telstra were concerned, "complexity is slowing that down."