NBN SA, NT construction deals due in weeks

Summary:The remaining National Broadband Network (NBN) construction contracts for the Northern Territory and South Australia will be revealed "in the next few weeks", according to CEO Mike Quigley, who revealed that Geraldton will be first for the construction announced today.

The remaining National Broadband Network (NBN) construction contracts for the Northern Territory and South Australia will be revealed "in the next few weeks", according to CEO Mike Quigley, who revealed that Geraldton will be first for the construction announced today.

NBN Construction

Transfield workers at the Kiama NBN site (Credit: Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)

The design and construction of the fibre networks will be handled in Western Australia by Lend Lease and Service Stream joint venture company Syntheo, and will begin next month. In November, design will begin at Victoria Park in Western Australia, South Morang and Bacchus Marsh in Victoria. Mandurah in Western Australia will have work commence in December, and NBN Co has flagged that extensions to the first release site in Brunswick will get under way in March 2012.

Chief executive officer Mike Quigley said in a conference call with journalists today that the two contracts in combination with the $1.1 billion Silcar contract for New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT represents 60 per cent of the construction work for NBN Co for the fibre network over the next two years.

"In due course over the next few weeks, we expect to be announcing the remainder," Quigley said.

"There's a lot of contractors keen to do work with us in both of those regions," NBN Co head of construction Dan Flemming told journalists.

Flemming said that preliminary site works and detailed design planning at each of the sites will take roughly five months before construction commences, which itself will take around seven months. He said that he expects that NBN Co will be able to begin connecting customers about 12 months from the start date at each site. Flemming explained that NBN Co had taken a "jigsaw" approach to building the fibre network.

"What we are doing in the fibre access network build is building modules of fibre, which runs past 3000 premises per module. You can almost think of it like building a jigsaw puzzle," he said. "We keep adding pieces of the puzzle around those locations."

Quigley said that the Geraldton roll-out will focus on both the fibre deployment, as well as the roll-out of NBN Co's fixed wireless network in the area.

The CEO added that the next set of announcements for roll-out sites will shift to a 12-month solid plan of where the NBN will head to next.

"That will show all the places we'll be starting in the next 12 months. What we will do some time after that is to give a three-year indicative plan. The 12-month plan will be the plan; the three-year plan will be the indicative plan. We will be updating on a rolling basis, and we expect to update on a quarterly basis."

Much of the construction of the NBN fibre deployment will be dependent upon Telstra shareholders voting in favour of the $11 billion deal between the telco and NBN Co, part of which will see Telstra lease its pits and ducts to NBN Co. The company has arranged interim agreements with Telstra to lease the pits and the ducts before the 18 October vote, and Quigley said if shareholders ultimately vote it down, then NBN Co has options.

"If the deal doesn't go ahead, we have made sure that we have a degree of flexibility in any construction contracts we let, and we try and think of all of those contingencies," he said.

Carbon tax

The Federal Government next week plans to introduce legislation to support its plan to put a price on carbon at $23 per tonne for the top 500 polluters in Australia from July 2012. According to government documents, Telstra, Optus and Vodafone are considered high polluters due to the amount of electricity they consume in order to provide services. Quigley said today that he didn't think the government's carbon tax plans would impact NBN Co.

"I don't think the carbon tax has a big impact on us. Simply because those costs tend to be folded into what the construction companies do. We've obviously got to consider power, but they are not huge issues for us," he said.

Topics: NBN, Broadband

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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