The Tasmanian NBN Company is planning to go to market for network optical transmission hardware in the next four weeks, according to chairman Doug Campbell, but the move hinges on its national sibling devising certain technical plans for the mainland.
In some of his first comments since taking the role, the recently appointed head of the Tasmanian testbed for the National Broadband Network appears confident of making rapid progress on the state's build, wrote Campbell to ZDNet.com.au by email.
Asked when Tasmania would issue a tender for optical network transmission equipment, Campbell, a former head of Telstra Country Wide, said: "This is expected within the next four weeks after coordination with technical plans for NBN on the mainland."
Campbell's timeline follows Minister for Communications Stephen Conroy's claim yesterday that trench-digging for the Tasmanian NBN would begin by October.
Some industry observers have welcomed the news that technical plans are under way, but were surprised the plans could be turned around so quickly. Campbell did not say what the technical plans were; however, they are within the scope of the implementation study, headed up by lead advisors McKinsey and KPMG. The group will work closely with NBN chief, Mike Quigley, and the recently appointed NBN Co board.
Aurora Energy, the joint owner of TNBN Co with the NBN Co, last month issued a tender for optical fibre, with much of it being for overhead deployments. Aurora again is the likely agent to issue tender(s) for transmission equipment. The government had also outlined five Tasmanian regions that will be delivered fibre connections first.
The government has not yet determined what proportion of the Tasmanian build would be overhead or underground, but Campbell said that TNBN Co would be connecting to homes "using Aurora Energy pole lines and ducts where available."
Campbell said TNBN Co would be working to the government-endorsed deadlines: five years for Tasmania and eight years for the mainland.
"[Stephen Conroy] has announced that 200,000 premises will be passed in Tasmania in a program that will run over five years. TNBN Co will be operating to that schedule," said Campbell.
"The Commonwealth has also previously announced that they see the full NBN taking eight years for roll-out. Like TNBN Co, I am certain that NBN will be planning and implementing to that schedule."
Campbell was not yet certain of what the take-up rate of fast broadband in Tasmania would be, but said factors that would define that measure would be "the current uptake of broadband in Tasmania, the known experience in other locations in Australia and overseas, and differences of the Tasmania situation". Tasmania was selected as the priority for the NBN because of its uptake of broadband was well below the national average, Conroy said yesterday.