update The Tasmanian State Government, through its utility Aurora, has released a request for tender document for the fibre component of Tasmania's National Broadband Network roll-out.
The tender is only for the optic fibre component of the build, which is planned to reach 200,000 households or 90 per cent of Tasmania's population as part of the fibre to the premises roll-out.
In a joint press statement by the Australian and Tasmanian governments this afternoon, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and Tasmania Premier David Bartlett claimed that stage one of the NBN roll-out in Tasmania had begun.
Neither stated when construction was expected to occur, but said that wholesale-only, open access broadband network services would commence in the second quarter of 2010.
A new company, TNBN Co, a Tasmanian-only subsidiary of the NBNCo (which is partly owned by Aurora Energy), will undertake the construction work. The governments said that a Memorandum of Understanding between the parties had been signed.
"Today's announcement follows a huge amount of preparation including design and planning undertaken by Aurora Energy to enable procurement to start in advance of construction," said Bartlett.
"In partnership with the Tasmanian Government and Aurora Energy, we are working to deliver super-fast broadband services to address the lack of parity in available services compared to mainland Australia," said Conroy. The news came as the Basslink cable was officially declared open today, paving the way for competition on backhaul capacity to the mainland.
However the request for tender issued today appears to be Aurora Energy's standard request for optical fibre cable for repairs to existing networks, with scant detail about what it requires for new construction under the NBN.
The utility is seeking to establish a three year contract with the option, at its discretion, to extend it for a further two one year periods. Aurora may select one supplier or set up a non-exclusive panel for which it has not set any parameters in terms of the number of suppliers.
For the NBN project itself, denoted under "project items", "Aurora Energy may have the need for a single one-off purchase of a significant quantity of cable for an upcoming project," the RFT states.
Bidders have until 2pm on Friday 14 August to respond.