As originally conceived the in-home fibre terminating unit came with an external backup battery to enable continuity of the PSTN equivalent voice service in the event of power failure.
However batteries have a life of only a few years thus impose a significant cost and a burden on the environment. Moreover, they are useless in homes where all the fixed line phones are cordless because these wil not generally operate without mains power.
Discussions have been underway for some time between NBN Co and the government as to whether these will be optional or mandatory. At a briefing in April NBN Co chief communications officer, Kieren Cooney, told journalists that lack of a decision was holding back planning.
"[A decision on backup batteries] will be agreed prior to our corporate plan being submitted in May. It is something we are working through with government," said. "It is important to get it resolved because to move to scale we need a clear operating model. You can't be guessing what is going to be required."
COO Ralp Steffens told the briefing: "We are presently working on the basis of needing batteries everywhere...there are good and bad arguments on either side."
iTWire has been unable to obtain information on the current situation and the most recent version of NBN Co's corporate plan available is dated December 2010.
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