Minister for Communications Stephen Conroy today said trench digging to lay fibre cables for the National Broadband Network in Tasmania would begin in October.
Stephen Conroy at the ATUG Awards earlier this year
(Credit: Suzanne Tindal/ZDNet.com.au)
"Let me be clear about this: we will start digging new trenches come October, we will start connecting the first homes come the end of the year and our objective is to turn on these new services come July next year," Conroy said in Senate Question Time today.
Conroy had given the October start date in response to questions from fellow Labor Senator, Tasmania, Helen Polley. Conroy said the reason Tasmania was chosen first was because only 39 per cent of the population had broadband, as opposed to the national average of 52 per cent.
While October has been set for the commencement of civil construction work in Tasmania, yet to be announced is what proportion of the state's network will be underground or carried overhead.
In June, Conroy told the National General Assembly of Local Government that the NBN would be as unobtrusive as possible, but that in some instances aerial cabling "may be faster and more cost-effective".
Aurora Energy, which jointly owns the Tasmanian NBN Company (TNBN Co) with the national NBN Company, will be responsible for building the network, recently issued a request for tender in late July for around 1120 kilometres of overhead cable and just 40 kilometres of underground cable. The state-owned utility's fibre assets were also recently estimated by Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett to be worth around $100 million — $600 million shy of what the total cost is expected to be.
This week Goldman Sachs JBWere (GSJBW) Investment Research estimated that the NBN Company would only turn a profit in 2025, when it reached 75 per cent penetration of households, equal to 7.1 million premises.
TNBN Co chairman Doug Campbell is expected to announce the appointments of the remaining TNBN Co board members shortly.