Govt targets home broadband connection

ROB O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 19/08/2012

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Telecommunications Minister Amy Adams has asked an industry technical group to find ways to lower the barriers facing households wanting to connect to the new ultrafast broadband network.

Adams has written to the Telecommunications Carriers' Forum (TCF) outlining the Government's concerns, in particular asking the industry to investigate what options users have when connecting their existing residential premises to the fibre network.

The TCF said this should include connectivity options, a comparison of their relative performance and an assessment of the validity of each of the technologies. "A cost analysis will also be completed for each of the options," the TCF said.

Earlier this month, Adams announced the fibre rollout had exceeded targets with fibre reaching 76,000 urban premises, however, only 1200 customers have signed up for UFB services to date.

"It has always been our belief, based on overseas experience, that uptake will build gradually over the period of the network build.

"We are starting to see some exciting product offerings from retail service providers, but it takes time for products to be developed for the market and for people to recognise the value of UFB," Adams said.

The TCF said the background to the minister's letter was that the Commerce Commission recently identified the need to rewire residential premises to connect to fibre, the costs of retrofitting residential premises and the lack of wiring options available to home owners.

The current Premises Wiring Code of Practice deals only with new premises and major renovations, the TCF said.

"It also doesn't provide a range of options for the installer or home owner when upgrading their telecommunications wiring for fibre to the premises."

As a result of the approach, a TCF working group has been charged with investigating cost-effective options for connecting existing residential premises to the network. A discussion paper on the options identified will be prepared for industry feedback and the options will then be tabled with the minister for further consultation with the Government.

If accepted, the TCF's Premises Wiring Code will then be updated.

The working group will also assess the requirements needed to ensure successful installation and connectivity of emergency/medical services, alarms and security systems.

It will also identify any issues with these types of services when connecting fibre to the premises.

The paper may also include options which have been rejected and include justification and reasoning behind the group's decision to exclude them.

Late last year, a Commerce Commission survey found two-thirds of consumers thought rewiring was a significant barrier to connecting to the UFB network.

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