NBN Allows for Expansion of Mobile Services

Through the National Broadband Network (NBN) business plan, released yesterday and available here, it becomes apparent that the NBN will allow for third party mobile service providers to use the network to expand their coverage.

Specifically, on page 48 of the plan, under “Backhaul Service to Mobile Base Station”, it states:

“The Plan assumes that NBN Co may offer carrier grade services on normal commercial terms to mobile operators in areas where NBN Co already has fibre, but will not build additional transit backhaul in areas beyond those specifically needed to service NBN Co’s own requirements.”

What this means is that mobile service providers – such as Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone Hutchison Australia for example – will be allowed to build towers to expand their mobile coverage footprint, and use the NBN to provide backhaul transmission to and from those towers.

If they want to build towers away from NBN-operated fibre links, they will have to provide their own backhaul – either directly to their own networks, or to a location within the NBN fibre footprint for backhaul to their networks. There has been some debate as to whether the NBN would allow for such connectivity, but the question seems to now be answered.

For consumers, this is a big win.

One of the largest blockers to the expansion of mobile coverage is the expense of building backhaul into tower locations. By using the NBN, this build cost will be largely eliminated, and make filling all those annoying mobile blackspots cheaper and easier to fill.

Another positive for the forthcoming build of the NBN.