The National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) is in talks with Northern Territory company Power and Water Corporation to jointly build ducts to supply power and fibre to Darwin residents.
NBN Co confirmed to ZDNet Australia that it was in talks with the Power and Water Corporation over joint installation of ducts in the territory, as first reported by NT News.
PowerWater's $150 million "Undergrounding Power Project" aims to replace overhead power cables in Darwin with underground cables. The total roll-out is expected to cover 9000 premises.
The project has been in planning since 1997, but so far the suburb of Nightcliff is the only area to have completed the project. According to PowerWater, the suburbs of Rapid Creek and Millner are expected to be completed by August.
The process for installing underground power is similar to the process used by NBN Co in that PowerWater bores under the road into properties where it installs conduits for cables to be placed, and the company is required to build a shallow trench along the nature strip for the cables to be connected to the meter box.
Should the deal go ahead, these ducts would be built to NBN Co specifications for fibre. It is unclear what savings NBN Co and PowerWater would make out of such an arrangement. A similar scheme is in operation in the greenfields housing developments, where developers pay for the pits and ducts to be build to NBN Co specifications while NBN Co supply the fibre to the sites free of charge.
Fibre will have a relatively small presence in the Northern Territory, with the areas in the towns of Darwin, Katherine, Tennant Creek and Nhulunbuy the only areas to be getting fibre rolled out to the home. The rest will be met with a mixture of fixed-wireless and satellite services according to initial network maps published by NBN Co.
If Telstra shareholders agree to the $11 billion agreement between NBN Co and the telco, NBN Co would lease Telstra's existing pits and ducts as part of its fibre roll-out. It is understood that NBN Co will be looking for similar duct-sharing arrangements with other companies as the roll-out of the network progresses.
A number of reports have suggested that the deal between NBN Co and Telstra could be finalised this week.