OptiComm scores Tas NBN deal

NEC Australia looks set for an early National Broadband Network win as greenfield fibre-to-the-home service provider, OptiComm, finalises an early deployment contract with NBN Tasmania.

NEC Australia looks set for an early National Broadband Network (NBN) win as greenfield fibre-to-the-home service provider, OptiComm, finalises an early deployment contract with NBN Tasmania.

OptiComm, part-owned by iconic Australian clothesline maker, Hills Industries, is close to locking in a deal which will see it deploy NBN Tasmania's last mile fibre infrastructure to the state's and the country's first 5,000 households, according to well-informed sources.

The households will come from Scottsdale in north east Tasmania, Smithton in the north west of the state, and Midway Point near Hobart. They're expected to be activated by mid-2010. The towns were amongst those pegged for new backhaul links in July and were later added to the list of 10 towns to be delivered the NBN early.

Opticomm currently only supplies Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) equipment made by NEC Australia, which has facilities based in Melbourne. One of its deployments includes the Victorian greenfield estate University Hill.

OptiComm general manager, Phil Smith, declined to comment on the proposed deal when contacted by ZDNet.com.au. NEC Australia was unable to be reached.

Late last week NBN Tasmania chief Doug Campbell told ZDNet.com.au that a supplier had been selected for these initial towns, and he said that the homes would be the subject of a trial which would inform the mainland on certain aspects of establishing a wholesale-only telco.

"We're trying to determine how we'll set this activity up, how we're going create a wholesale company, how we're going to handle customers from retail services providers, what the process should be, how we're going to determine how activate those services, manage the services," said Campbell last week.

However, later, Campbell told ZDNet.com.au that the contract would not have any implications for future tenders for Tasmania's or the mainland's wider rollout. "NBN Tasmania intends to contract for this work directly with a qualified and experienced contractor," said Campbell when asked whether Aurora Energy had tendered for the work.

Campbell would not disclose whether it would require the supplier to provide "active network" equipment from a single or multiple vendors.

NBN Tasmania's Campbell said it would not follow the same "request for capability" and tender process initiated by the mainland's NBN Co a fortnight ago. NEC Australia is expected, along with fellow network equipment vendors, Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and Nokia Siemens Networks, to submit statements for that work.

ZDNet.com.au is waiting for a response from NBN Tasmania.

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