NBN recruiting 4,500 jobs across Australia

The company charged with rolling out Australia's National Broadband Network has announced the creation of an additional 4,500 jobs in the field across construction, maintenance, and training.

NBN has announced a further 4,500 jobs to be created for the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN), doubling the total number of jobs produced by the project to 9,000.

The company will be spending close to AU$40 million on advertising, recruitment, and training, and hopes to lure entry-level employees, experienced workers, and returning retirees to the industry by offering flexible work-life options on both long-term and short-term contracts.

"To bring high-speed broadband to Australians faster, our delivery partners will need a bigger pool of trained, skilled workers," NBN CEO Bill Morrow said when announcing the employment drive on Monday morning.

Namely, the jobs to be advertised include telco linesworkers, electrical linesworkers, telco copper cable jointers, cablers, and telco technicians. The company plans to fill 1,300 roles split between New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory; 850 jobs in Queensland; 800 roles in Victoria; 850 in Western Australia; 400 roles split between South Australia and the Northern Territory; and 200 jobs in Tasmania.

The company also detailed plans to recruit experienced workers who can provide training for new entrants later down the line.

"To those with telco experience, there are options to use your skills or become a teacher and coach for the next generation of workers," said Morrow.

NBN plans to develop a skills register in order to classify accreditations for its employees into the future, and has partnered with Registered Training Organisations and TAFEs in every NBN rollout regions across Australia.

"Both the rapid rollout plan and the multi-technology mix means we need more people in our united partnership to connect 8 million happy homes by 2020," said Morrow.

Australian Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull lauded the decision to provide jobs to both experienced workers and entrants to the field as the scale of the network rollout accelerates its pace from servicing one in 50 premises to around one in 10 in order to complete the project by 2020.

"This is one of the largest infrastructure projects in Australia's history, and it's certainly the most complex," Turnbull said.

"Each day, the project is being rolled out on hundreds of work fronts across the country, so it's vital we have enough people to roll out the network as we increase the pace of the rollout."

Industry organisation Internet Australia welcomed the news, with CEO Laurie Patton saying it will improve the landscape of the Australian workforce by providing jobs in both urban and rural areas.

"Internet Australia commends NBN's decision to engage retired telco workers and to create an expanded workforce to help fast track the construction of the National Broadband Network," Patton said on Monday.

"We particularly encourage them to create jobs for young people, especially those living in regional and remote areas."

The organisation also called for NBN to use this opportunity to employ Indigenous Australians.

"From [a] personal point of view, I'd encourage NBN to include Indigenous Australians in the construction of broadband infrastructure," Patton added.

The Australian government last month released its draft NBN-Telstra Migration Assurance Policy after Turnbull confirmed in January that a finalised migration plan had been lodged with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to govern how customers will be migrated onto the NBN, and how Telstra will disconnect its copper and hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) networks thereafter.

The ACCC approved the migration plan in June, seven months after Telstra and NBN entered into a revised AU$11 billion deal allowing NBN to take ownership of Telstra's copper and HFC network assets. The modified agreement came as a result of the Coalition government's decision to move away from a full fibre-to-the-premises rollout to the present so-called multi-technology mix (MTM) network incorporating fibre to the node, fibre to the building, and HFC.

Similarly, the ACCC also granted draft approval last month for a revised agreement covering the transition of Optus' HFC customers onto the fixed-line NBN, and the progressive integration of parts of the telco's network with the NBN.

In late July, however, both Telstra and the Department of Communications argued that the ACCC's additional draft decision to slash Telstra's wholesale fixed-line prices by 9.6 percent could hamper customer migration to the NBN, as retailers would "have a profit motive to keep their customers on the higher-margin copper network for as long as possible".

"This would make migration to the NBN even harder to achieve, and put important revenue to NBN Co at risk. In this way, a cut to prices on the legacy network poses a serious danger to the success of the NBN policy," Telstra warned in a blog post.

The federal government agreed, saying, "The department is concerned that the proposed price decrease for fixed-line services will discourage migration throughout the migration window, and could lead to a significant number of customers remaining on the old network in the lead-up to the disconnection date."

While the ACCC had originally planned to reduce prices across seven of its fixed-line wholesale services by 0.7 percent, its revised price cut, announced in late June, said the amount that Telstra charges retailers for the use of its broadband internet services are to be cut by 9.6 percent from October 2015.

Since then, though, Optus, TPG, and the Competitive Carriers' Coalition (CCC) have voiced concerns that the federal government's involvement in an independent industry review is inappropriate and "dangerous".

"The Department of Communications' intervention in the ACCC's independent price-determination process to advance the interests of Telstra is extraordinary, unwelcome, unwarranted, and sets a dangerous precedent," the CCC said in late July.

NBN has yet to reveal its results for the first half of 2015, but in its third-quarter results, released in May, NBN said is was on target to reach AU$150 million in telecommunications revenue for the 2014-15 financial year, as well as 1 million serviceable premises passed by fibre, fixed wireless, and satellite.

The company reported a total loss of AU$1.38 billion for the nine months ended March 31, 2015, up from the AU$1.145 billion reported during the same period in 2014. Telecommunications revenue stood at AU$106 million for the nine months, with average revenue per user (ARPU) up from AU$37 to AU$40 for the quarter. The average connection fee was AU$29, and the average capacity charge AU$11.


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