By Renai LeMay
The NBN company this evening revealed it had purchased some 1800km of brand new copper cable at a cost of about $14 million, to ensure that the Fibre to the Node technology model preferred by Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition Government would function correctly.
NBN chief executive Bill Morrow made the extraordinary admission in a Senate Estimates Committee hearing in Parliament House in Canberra tonight, where the Opposition questioned the NBN company relentlessly on the extent to which Telstra’s copper network would need to be remediated in order to allow the controversial FTTN model to function.
Morrow also acknowledged that the NBN company was needing to ramp up production of copper cable by the company’s partners. The chief company which appears to be producing copper cables for the NBN company is Sydney-based Prysmian, which originally won a contract to supply fibre-optic cable to the NBN company, but is now diversifying into supplying copper as well.
Morrow said the NBN company had sufficient copper for its current needs — about five months’ worth, but would need further copper cables after about five months.
However, Morrow stipulated that the NBN company was not using the cable to replace dilapidated copper in Telstra’s existing copper network between the neighbourhood ‘nodes’ which the NBN company is deploying and customers’ premises.
Instead, the executive noted that the NBN company is primarily using the copper to connect Telstra’s existing distribution ‘pillars’ to the new ‘nodes’ which the NBN company is deploying. In some cases, Morrow noted, Telstra’s distribution pillars could only be a very short distance — right next to — the new NBN nodes.
However, in other cases, the NBN company would have to run a significant amount of brand new copper cable from one of Telstra’s pillars to one of the new nodes, to make the Fibre to the Node model function.
Image credit: NBN Co