Although Visionstream may be seeking to ask NBN Co for extra money to complete the fibre-to-the-premises National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout in Tasmania by 2015, the company has said that it is working to get the construction back up and running.
Visionstream is currently contracted to build out fibre to 190,000 premises across Tasmania, to finish the fibre rollout in the state, but in November, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull revealed that the company had done no work since July, and was asking for higher rates to complete the work.
While the Coalition has committed to honouring construction contracts signed before the election, Turnbull said that the commitment is also reliant on the construction partners like Visionstream meeting their obligations under the existing contract.
At a Senate Select Committee hearing into the NBN in Sydney on Tuesday, NBN Co's chief operations officer Greg Adcock said that NBN Co has come to an agreement with Visionstream for the company to continue working on the rollout while there is an "informal discussion" about a potential claim to be put in by Visionstream.
"Visionstream have not formally put the claim in yet. They have just indicated that they might, and we have discouraged them from doing so," he said.
NBN Co executive chairman Dr Ziggy Switkowski said Tasmanians should be encouraged by Visionstream's commitment to the construction of the NBN in Tasmania.
"They, and we, are keen to step up the rollout. I think there are 200,000 premises understood as part of the contract," he said.
"The release of work happens in smaller quantities, and the next significant quantity, which is an all-fibre rollout, is being currently negotiated."
In a statement released today, Visionstream's general manager for the NBN Allan Bradford said that the company has 30 crews out in the field in Hobart, Launceston, and Bellerive working on pit remediation, fibre hauling, splicing, and constructing fibre servicing area modules (FSAMs).
"These are integral works to ensure the project remains on track and to get the network rolled out," Bradford said in a statement.
"We've always remained committed to delivering the NBN in Tasmania. We have a 200-strong workforce in the state, 10 trainees, and a large contracting workforce to ensure this project is delivered."
At yesterday's hearing, Adcock also confirmed that NBN Co's arguably most successful construction contractor Silcar is also looking to pull together a claim seeking more funding to complete its existing construction contracts. Adcock also said that NBN Co had recently recruited Silcar executive Michael Doherty to be NBN Co's head of business operations.