NBN Co hands out first apartment contracts

NBN Co has begun tackling the troubling issue of rolling out fibre into existing apartment blocks and other multi-dwelling units.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Universal Communications Group and Downer EDI have been awarded AU$21 million, and AU$66 million contracts to begin addressing the troubling issue of how to roll out the National Broadband Network (NBN) fibre into existing multi-dwelling units across New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria, and Tasmania.

In May 2011, NBN Co put out a request for proposals to the construction industry, seeking to install fibre cables into so-called multi-dwelling units (MDUs), such as townhouses and apartment blocks. MDUs offer quite a different challenge for installing fibre services, as each MDU is different, and can require substantial refits in order to replace existing copper infrastructure with fibre.

NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley admitted in October that it was a complex issue for NBN Co to address because of those factors but indicated that the company was in talks with several contractors to begin installing fibre into apartment blocks and townhouses.

The contract awarded to Universal Communications Group will see the network companies charged with the design and construction of NBN fibre infrastructure into apartment blocks and units in metropolitan Sydney and Tasmania over the next two years, commencing in early 2013, with the possibility to expanding to other locations.

Downer EDI will take on other parts of NSW as well as Victoria and the ACT.

Universal Communications Group said it was already responsible for installing fibre to 90 percent of apartment blocks for the NBN today.

The company's CEO Ralf Luna said in a statement that the company would triple its employed staff and contractors over the next two to three months, with 45 contractors being added in New South Wales and 40 in Tasmania. The company will also open another office in Launceston and expand its offices in Sydney and Hobart.

NBN Co said it had rolled out the NBN to 237 MDUs and was working on another 131.

Editorial standards