Construction firm Downer EDI has secured a AU$94 million, two-year contract with NBN Co to roll out the fibre for the National Broadband Network to premises in northern New South Wales.
NBN Co's chief operating officer Ralph Steffens said today that the deal would be the first of many signed over the next few months as NBN Co moves to increase its construction work up to the forecasted 6,000 premises passed per day.
"We have now established key contract terms and conditions to allow us to streamline the process of engaging new contractors as the pace of work accelerates," Steffens said in a statement.
Downer EDI will take fibre from the fibre access node out to the drop point at the side of each premise. The contract is initially for two years, but comes with two potential extensions of one year each.
In December, Downer EDI secured a AU$66 million contract to begin installing NBN fibre to multi-dwelling units in NSW, Victoria, and the ACT.
The contract announced today is one of the first major NBN contracts signed since Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the election date for September 14. Although government is not considered to be in caretaker mode, Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has suggested that NBN Co should not be signing any big contracts.
"If I was the chief executive of NBN Co in these circumstances or if I was a director of that company, I would be careful and try to avoid, in so far as I could, entering into contracts that might be seen as in effect shackling the right of the new government," Turnbull told the ABC earlier this month.
While construction ploughs ahead in New South Wales, it was revealed in a Senate estimates hearing earlier this week that NBN Co construction contractor Syntheo has encountered a range of issues preventing the connection of fibre to any premises in several NBN roll-out locations in Western Australia, South Australia, and the Northern Territory.