NBN to test automatic replacement for lightning-struck FttC kit

Image: NBN

The company responsible for the national broadband network is set to begin a trial that will see fiber-to-the-curb (FttC) customers replace connecting equipment themselves if it is fried in a storm.

In figures released in December, NBN said it replaced 99,226 NBN Co Connecting Devices (NCDs) from December 1, 2020 to November 11, 2021.

“Between October 1, 2021 and November 11, 2021, NBN Co replaced a total of 21,424 devices. This includes replacements following multiple severe weather events in Australia’s eastern states in October,” said NBN in a response to the Senate estimates.

“FttC NCDs…can be replaced for a wide variety of reasons, including customers removing the device when they move house, new devices being automatically provided when a customer changes providers, and accidental damage to the premises. ”

In an agreement dated January 31, the NBN said it was conducting a trial to allow customers to replace FttC NCDs themselves. The test period is expected to run from Feb. 7 to June 30, with NBN to alert retailers when a storm is likely to cause the NDC to fail, and retailers to confirm with customers that the NCD has blown.

“The self-replacement kit trial is open to all retail service providers and is scheduled to begin February 7 with two providers,” an NBN spokesperson said.

“The trial is part of NBN’s ongoing efforts to reduce the impact on customers whose Network Connecting Device (NCD) has been damaged by lightning during thunderstorms. It gives participating retailers the opportunity to make arrangements for a replacement hardened NBN NCD to be shipped directly to all customers who report damage to their NCD during a storm, allowing them to “plug and play” and reduce time spent offline.

“There are no restrictions on the number of customers or locations.”

For much of the year, the NBN has publicly stated that it is looking for a long-term solution to the lightning problem.

“Our vendors have told us that the components in this scenario fail in a safe way, but it also means the broadband connection to the home is lost,” NBN CEO Stephen Rue said in March.

“There have been reports from some customers of black marks on devices and sometimes outside the device, on a table for example. Our suppliers have confirmed to us that several units with this marking have been inspected and that these black marks do not present any security concerns.”

At the time, Rue said the company was “actively testing” the self-replacement solution, but NBN confirmed that this trial involved automating a previously manual process.

“These are temporary measures, of course, and we continue to examine options to harden our devices; for example, potentially replacing certain customer equipment to minimize the impact of lightning on our network in these regions,” said he declared.

In May, NBN said the main areas where weather events knocked out NTMs were in New South Wales at Penrith, Miranda, Frenchs Forest, Rockdale, Grafton, Mosman, Peakhurst, Glebe and Campbelltown. In 2020, the company traded in 57,000 connecting devices.

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Elna M. Lemons