Damian Ivereigh, chief executive of Launtel, a Launceston-based ISP, said his was probably the only company which would sell a gigabit connection over the NBN at the moment – and only in Tasmania at the moment.
"I believe that we are one of the reasons why Tasmania has a higher than average number of FttP upgrades going on, because you can get gigabit here," Ivereigh told iTWire in response to queries.
He was referring to cases where residents join together and share the costs for NBN Co to put fibre-to-the-premises in their street. But it would be of little use doing this, if there were no ISP who could then offer these individuals gigabit connections.
"You need a certain amount of CVC at each PoI (which costs big bucks – like $8000/month) to turn on your first gigabit connection (much less for subsequent ones)," he said. "We have not yet reached this scale in ACT (the other area we have turned on).
"The big providers could do this. However, I believe they do not offer it because they don't see enough of a market and/or they don't want it to compete with their non-NBN business grade products."
The managing director of another small ISP, MyRepublic, said he had offered gigabit connections during a trial in Wollongong a year ago.
Nicholas Demos told iTWire: "We only allowed customers in Wollongong to sign up to gigabit speeds for a year during a one-month period. We charged what we believe is a fair price for gig speeds, $129.95 per month." He added that he charged $99.95 for gigabit speeds in New Zealand and 20% to 30% of customers were signing up for plans which offered this speed.
"During the one-month trial period in Wollongong, over 100 customers signed up for gigabit speeds and are still experiencing it today," Demos said. "We would love to provide it to all our customers at a fair price, but the current NBN pricing model in Australia does not allow for this."
He said NBN Co and the government "believe that Australians only need the 50-speed tier which is whey they have discounted it, and not the higher speed tiers".
A third small ISP, Aussie Broadband, said through its spokeswoman, "We don't have any plans to offer gigabit plans at this stage. The amount of CVC we need to have sitting around to support them is too costly."
A Vodafone spokesperson said: "We are always reviewing the products our customers are looking for and the 1Gbps speed plan is something we continue to assess."
An Optus spokesperson responded with a query: "Have you spoken with NBN Co as yet? They would be best placed to comment on gigabit connections."
Telstra did not bother to reply.
TPG has no media contacts on its website, hence the email query was sent, in error, to Mark Rafferty who happens to be on the corporate side of things.
He was rather testy and refused to forward the email on to the individual concerned; hence the request for comment to TPG only went in at about 10am. If a response is received, it will be included here.