In this case study we explore the real scenario that an anonymous developer went through recently as part of a dual-occupancy project in Melbourne's outer east.
Telstra now require what’s known as an Application For Reticulation (AFR) submitted before offering you an Infrastructure Provision Agreement (IPA). Your builders Telco contractor will generally put in the AFR and register your development on Smart Communities but then a lot of it is up to you to keep an eye on. In fact you will need to drive it from early on as this process can take a considerable amount of time. I would suggest submitting the AFR when your builder receives the building permit, or perhaps even earlier, depending on how long the build is expected to take. This is because there is a high likelihood that Telstra will get back to you advising that “your area is not yet NBN ready” so the infrastructure needs to be provided. Unsurprisingly you will likely be the one to pay for that. If you are developing in the Melbourne metropolitan area this will most likely be the case.
Telstra may need approximately 6 months to provision the infrastructure and, in my case, the AFR was not submitted until 2 months prior to the concrete for the driveway being poured. I was advised a few weeks prior to my concrete being poured that my AFR was on hold indefinitely as there was no timeframe for providing the infrastructure.
My current project is a dual-oc development and a possible solution was to call Telstra as a new customer and get both properties connected to the existing copper network. It involved first going through their sales office, signing up for a basic package and making sure I was given the reference numbers. Then going to the provisions department and with those reference numbers getting a Ticket Of Work number and asking that the TOW number be allocated to my builders Telco company who are registered with Telstra as a contractor. Once that was done then the lead up work was completed I spoke to Telstra connections to get the technician out to connect both properties. I then had to get back in contact with Telstra to obtain the phone numbers for the two properties. By this stage I’d lost track of which department I was speaking to!
At this point I received an email from Telstra offering me an IPA but for the old copper network anyway and the contribution fee part 1 was going to be $3k. I have since argued with them regarding the fact I can't pay a contribution fee for the provision of infrastructure that will connect both my properties when they are already connected.
"You need to remind your builder 6 months prior to lead up work being required that the AFR needs to go in.”
Telstra were very insistent that I pay the amount but eventually agreed to withdraw the IPA and acknowledge that the properties are connected and compliant and I am entitled to a letter of compliance.
They advised me it was requested on the 20th of December and would take up to 14 business days to be issued. Today is the 14th day (January 11th 2017) so I emailed them as I haven't received it. They now tell me that the request was only noted yesterday! I saved about $2,000 doing it this way but the frustration hardly made it worth it. Note that this approach only applies to developments that will retain an existing dwelling as part of the development, such as a dual-oc.
One other major frustration was that my land surveyor sent me an email last January advising me of this stuff and I forwarded it to my builder. They told me they would “look after it” but it wasn't done in time so the lesson learnt there is that no-one cares about your project more than you! You need to remind your builder 6 months prior to lead up work being required that the AFR needs to go in.