Syntheo hits NBN construction delays

Syntheo hits NBN construction delays

Summary: Ongoing issues with National Broadband Network construction contractor Syntheo has caused NBN Co to reduce its June forecast for the number of premises passed.

TOPICS: NBN, Australia

NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley told the Australian parliament that issues with National Broadband Network (NBN) construction contractor Syntheo, delaying the fibre rollout in Western Australia, South Australia, and the Northern Territory, has caused NBN Co to revise its June 2013 target.

The company charged with rolling out the government-owned AU$37.4 billion fibre network had set itself the target of just under 300,000 brownfields premises passed by the network as of June 30, 2013. However, this figure was revised down to 286,000, because Syntheo has had significant issues in rolling out to 25 fibre servicing area modules (FSAM) in the two states and territory.

Quigley told a Senate Estimates hearing in Canberra tonight that NBN Co is working with Syntheo — a joint venture between Lend Lease Group and Service Stream — to help it overcome issues it is having, and ensure that NBN Co can still meet its revised June goal.

"We've had a reduction in October in the forecast. We're working with the contractor to overcome that. We set a target of 286,000, and excepting a few challenges, NBN Co will still meet that target," he said. "We are constantly working with them, if issues arise, to overcome them."

The company has not revealed exactly how far Syntheo is behind, but Quigley said that Syntheo's portion of the rollout accounts for 17 percent of current construction.

The two-year contracts that Syntheo signed with NBN Co for construction in WA, SA, and the NT are worth more than AU$300 million, and Quigley said Syntheo would have already received some of these payments, because the payments are paid up front in phases, depending on where the construction is at, whether it is in the design phase or the build phase.

Earlier in the evening, Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy officials revealed that the government has so far spent AU$15 million of the AU$20 million allocated in the budget for advertising for the NBN project, but a second phase of this campaign would see the department exceed its original allocation, with AU$9 million more being spent on new TV, radio, and online ads in March and April.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the advertising is needed to "correct misconceptions".

"There's still some work to be done to overcome the lies from those opposite," he told the Coalition senators.

"There are still some misconceptions we need to correct."

Topics: NBN, Australia


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.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Kudos Josh , on the ball

    More Details would help
    "Syntheo has had significant issues in rolling out to 25 fibre servicing area modules (FSAM) in the two states and territory."

    Rolling out to FSAM's

    My initial interpretation is getting the fibre from the POI to the FSAM Header, otherwise
    "rolling out FSAMS", in the environment the wording would be very carefully chosen and very specific.

    Is this a case of slow Pit and Duct Remediation , or keeping trained staff, even those trained for the job as the mines with their works would also have a need for fibre techs and splicers and would pay much more, or some other reason?
    Abel Adamski
    • "Rolling out to FSAM's"

      According to the Glossary of Terms in NBN's Business Plan: Fibre Serving Area Module (FSAM) is "A series of up to 24 FDAs linked in a double closed loop configuration." Fibre Distribution Area (FDA) is "The area served via a single Fibre Distribution Hub (FDH) which connects addresses to the serving FAN site(s) via Local Fibre" and Fibre Distribution Hub (FDH) is
      "The equipment located in a Fibre Distribution Area where Distribution Fibre is split to provide Local Fibre that runs down each street." In the metro areas each FSA comprises a cluster of FSAMs, but in regional areas an FSA comprises a number of FDAs connecting back to a FAN. It's anyone's guess as to whether Mike Quigley meant what he is reported to have said, but I suspect he meant "rolling out to the FSAs" and meant it rather generally. The takeaway is that Syntheo is finding it harder than expected to meet targets. What is rather scary is that in the second half of last year, several years into the project, fibre was laid past a mere 17100 brownfield sites. By 2015 they need to pass that number every three days!
  • A matter of resources

    Prime contractors like Syntheo will continue to miss targets because the rates they are paying sub-contractors is not adequate to attract new sub-contractors or a incentive for existing subbies to invest in staff and equipment . Will become a problem Australia wide if NBNCO do not act to fix this problem
    struggling subbie
  • Fair enough too

    Gotta hate it when a company wants their snouts in the trough to maximise their own profits, but then refuse to pay a 'fair' price to their subbies...

    Once again it shows how f***ed the fabled private enterprise really is :(
    • Not so much private enterprise it's self

      I think it's more that capitalism, on the scale we have today, doesn't quite work the way it did in Adam Smiths day.

      I think a key problem is "the corporation", it allows people to decouple social responsibility between themselves (shareholders/owners) and "the company" (the executive). The execs then pursue a course of "maximising returns to the shareholders" and a system that often rewards those that cross lines..."corporate capitalism" seems to generate a lot of problems (like GFC's and patents and copyright and....)
      • yes i agree

        Very thoughtful comments
        Blank Look
        • Get a Grip

          You guys are amazing! Imagine the gall of those companies that are contracted to build the NBN, how dare they want to make a profit! Must be all liberal voting facists.

          A small note, when Conboy put out his RFT for services to build the NBN every single response was rejected because they were seen as being too expensive. The cheeky monkeys had factored in the competative price of skilled labor in their bids!

          Now we see what happens when you low ball a bid and find that the trades want market rates, you lose your people. And how dare a cable splicer take a job that pays him 50% more than NBN, the rank bastard where is his sense of pride in building a national icon? Clearly he doesnt down load pirated video or TV shows and he cant possibly play COD on line.