The nation’s largest telco Telstra has revealed plans to hold a three-month free trial of fibre to the home services over the fledgling National Broadband Network rollout in Tasmania, bringing the total number of ISPs to sign on in the state to five.
The trial — which will run from October through the end of the year — was announced this morning on the occasion of a visit by the telco’s chief executive David Thodey to Tasmania to open the Tasmanian Growth Summit.
“The pilot is an opportunity for Telstra to assess how BigPond broadband services and next-generation digital home products such as T-Hub and T-Box perform over the NBN,” Thodey said in a statement. “It’s unusual for Telstra to access another network rather than use our own, so it’s important we ensure our products and services work smoothly.”
Customers who sign up with Telstra for the trial will not be charged for the NBN services they receive. Telstra plans to sign up 100 customers to the trial.
Doug Campbell — a former Telstra executive who is now the chairman of NBN Tasmania, welcomed the announcement, saying it indicated the growing importance of the Tasmanian stage one rollout.
“Not only is the NBN in Tasmania providing people in three communities with the first taste of the NBN, it is giving retail service providers the opportunity to prove the integration of their services onto the new network,” he said in a separate statement issued by NBN Co. “They are also gaining valuable experience in the types of service plans that are attractive to customers using the impressive capabilities of the new network.”
So far, NBN Tasmania has laid more than 200km of optic fibre around the state — employing over 200 people during the project to do so. “Hundreds” of service orders have been received by local customers to date, and over half of residents in the target towns of Midway Point, Smithton and Scottsdale have signed up for the NBN.
So far, five ISPs have signed up to provide NBN services in Tasmania — iiNet, Primus, Internode, Exetel and now Telstra, with notable exceptions being Optus and TPG. The network was officially launched on 12 August. It has been reported that NBN Co is not charging ISPs wholesale costs for the first services to connect to the network.
Campbell claimed there was a “growth in competition” on the network, which he said should provide beneficial for end users in terms of “innovation, service differentiation and price”.