Network terminator Device issues resolved themselves

The Network terminator Device (NTD) is also sometimes referred to as the Optical Network Terminal (ONT). It sits at the end of the FttH network – it is the connection to premises. From there the various services can be delivered to the end-users.

Some discussion took place in the early days regarding the preferable position of this device. NBN Co prefers to put the ONT on the outside of the house. The company has no relationship with the consumer and will try to avoid this at all costs. As a wholesale provider NBN Co wishes to be invisible. It will not have the resources to deal with consumers, to arrange appointments for access to customer premises for instance.

But the customers prefer to have it on the inside of house, as it is there that they will use it. However any device that goes indoors was seen by NBN Co as a RSP device. Their initial thoughts were that they would not need to have any contact with the end-user as that was the part of the operation the RSP had its responsibilities, bringing the NTD inside would put them in a position that they would have to make contact with the end-user.

However as the NBN moved ahead the issue became less sensitive and they have found a way to deal with the end-user, without upsetting their business model too much. Another positive for them was that the cost of NTDs which go inside the house has come down significantly and they are now cheaper than an outside device.

As things have developed most current NTD installations have so far been inside, with a smaller number being installed on the outside of residences. While there is no hard policy on this it looks as though this situation will continue, with the majority of the NTD being installed inside the house.

A third  reason why most devices are inside is also linked to the fact that providing customer access from the outside NTD to the interior of a dwelling presents a more serious problem. There are technical issues, such as drilling through walls. Experience has taught NBN Co that in most cases the NTD can simply be installed by using the existing Telstra copper cable link into the house.

In the case of multi-dwelling buildings NBN Co will always install the NTD within each unit.

One of the more problematic issues regrading installations on the outside is how one goes about bringing electric power to the NTD if it is placed on the outside of the building. An interesting solution could involve cooperation with the electricity company – it could provide power and at the same time use the NBN rollout to support its own smart meter rollout. But to date little progress has been made on a more collaborative approach.

By 2013 it now seems that, despite the early concerns regarding the placements of NTDs, the issue has largely been resolved and that cooperation between the customer, NBN Co and the RSP is delivering the best possible outcome for all those involved.

Interesting as well is the fact that customer access is provided on demand. Nearly everyone contacted by NBN Co opts to have the NTD; this despite early scaremongering, by politicians in particular. This positive result is very much in line with similar developments elsewhere in the world – if the NTD is provided free of charge the take-up rate is above 95%. NBN Co, together with the RSPs, developed an excellent information and education campaign that is launched as soon as work begins in a neighbourhood. Even people who do not see the need for the NBN service as such do recognise the value, if not of the service itself, then in terms of real estate value.

Paul Budde

See also: Australia – National Broadband Network – Infrastructure Plans and Contracts

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