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Australia: Developments in FTTx October 26, 2006

Posted by Jasper in Uncategorized.

Although Telstra has declined to upgrade its access network to fibre, there have recently been some developments in FTTx in different regions.

In Tasmania, a FTTH broadband trial involving more than 1000 residential and business users will begin within the next few weeks. Dubbed TasCOLT (Tasmanian Collaborative Optical Leading Test-bed), the two-year project is designed to test the commercial viability of high-speed broadband services. Trial participants will be offered a range of packages that include high-speed internet access, a VoIP phone service, video conferencing and movies on demand. Exact details and pricing of the packages are yet to be revealed, however, it is likely connection speeds of up to 100Mbps will be offered.

Initially announced almost two years ago, the TasCOLT project struck a range of delays due to the complexity of the technology involved and a requirement to train local contractors in its implementation. The formulation of an environmental impact study and the process of securing planning approvals from local councils also took longer than expected.

The project is supported by a consortia including Hitachi, Intel, Cisco and Corning Cable. The FTTH network will use Ethernet Passive Optical Networking (ePON) technology and be fed by a head-end operated by Tasmanian electricity company Aurora. Trial services will be offered in two suburbs in Hobart as well as the city of Devonport on the State’s north coast. The bulk of the optical equipment for the test bed is being provided by Hitachi with specialist assistance from Melbourne-based optical technology specialist CEOS. Both companies are also responsible for a similar test project in Ballarat, Victoria.

Earlier this week, the Queensland Government announced that it is looking into investing in the next generation of broadband (FTTH) and spending about half a billion Australian dollars in doing it. The government will be seeking expressions of interest from the private sector next month to gauge commercial interest in funding the project. It is envisaged the private sector would lay fibre-optic cables using government-owned assets such as pipes, electricity poles and road and rail easements, and profit from the service. Queensland Premier Mr. Beattie said: 

If we are going to compete in a global world this is what ‘Smart State’ is all about … if we don’t then we get left behind.

Country Energy and Soul have recently completed their Fibre Towns project in regional New South Wales. It has linked over 70 health and education facilities to high speed data exchange and internet access. The project received funding from the NSW and Federal governments. The installation of fibre optic cable is on existing infrastructure – in this case, Country Energy’s power poles. According to Energy Minister, Joe Tripodi:

Health and education facilities are the first to be connected, but we foresee the technology being available to other businesses and the wider community very shortly.

Chairman of Soul, Rob Millner, said the installation of broadband cables on power poles is an innovative development in the telecommunications industry and testament to public and private sector partnerships working together to get Australia connected.

Sources: Country Energy, Australien IT, m-net



1. Guru - November 15, 2006

Interesting read. If you would like to share this story and more on FTTx Forum, I would really appreciate that. I had not yet found any information on the development of FTTx in Australia/N-Z…

Thanks in advance!

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