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Copper wires an unknown factor: NBN Co


The viability of the federal opposition's plan for fibre-to-the-node broadband would depend on the state of the copper wires connecting homes to the nodes, NBN Co boss Mike Quigley says.

"What we don't know is what is the state of copper in the network ... There's substantial remediation to be done, we just don't know how much," he told the parliamentary joint committee on the National Broadband Network (NBN) in Sydney on Friday.

Mr Quigley would not be drawn on whether using the existing copper would cut a third off the cost of the NBN, as the opposition says, but he said NBN Co could provide technical and business advice to policy makers on that.

He also told the committee that NBN Co should have been better informed about contractors' progress in rolling out the fibre for the National Broadband Network.

Earlier this year, NBN Co had to revise down the projected number of NBN connections by tens of thousands, after one contractor altered its own projections.

Mr Quigley said that in hindsight it was a fair assessment that NBN Co had not been sufficiently aware of how contractors were tracking.

"We should have been more involved in the details of the construction company," he said.

Meanwhile, NBN Co confirmed on Friday that it would begin offering customers download speeds of up to one gigabit per second from December.

That would put Australia on a par with some of the fastest networks in the world and allow users to download movies or other large files very quickly.

NBN Co said it would offer one gigabit per second at a wholesale cost of $150 per month, with retailers on-selling it at a higher rate.

Lower speeds would be made available at reduced costs.

The providers would be able to develop retail plans based on the 1 Gigabit product for families and businesses with access to the fibre network, NBN Co's head of product and sales, John Simon said.

"We are confident there will be a healthy market for higher speed tiers," he said in a statement.