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NBN Co taps contractors for Tasmania clean-up

NBN Co is working to reduce the backlog of premises unable to order a service on the fibre network, with a new contract signed with Universal Communications Group.

As first revealed by ZDNet earlier this month, Universal Communications has been brought on board by NBN Co as the second contractor in the state to work alongside Visionstream to alleviate the number of premises passed by the fibre network but unable to order a service.

These premises are counted as being in service class zero, or service class one, where the fibre passes the premises but additional construction work is needed or fibre needs to be laid before the people in the premises are in a position to order a service from their retail service provider.

In a document issued to retailers in August, NBN Co explained that it is currently withholding a whole six fibre-serving areas in Tasmania from being released, and thus being counted in NBN Co's weekly statistics, because NBN Co did not have the resources on the ground to field the number of orders in Tasmania for services on the NBN.

"Demand for NBN Co services in Tasmania is currently under greater than the available NBN Co activations resourcing capacity, which has caused long lead times for end users to get an installation appointment. Six FSAMs are approaching RFS [ready for service] in Tasmania, and NBN Co has taken the decision to phase the release of these FSAMs so that lead times for end-user orders are not extended further," NBN Co said.

As of September 4, there are 38,362 brownfields premises passed by the NBN fibre network, and 33,822 of those can order a service. Around 40 percent of the work is under way or completed to the 190,000 premises in Tasmania.

In a release today, NBN Co said that Universal Communications Group (UCG) has been signed on to work to complete the build drops of fibre from the street to the side of a premises in places where the network has been constructed in Tasmania, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory. Prior to this, the company had been responsible for the complex job of connecting apartments and townhouses to the NBN.

NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow said in a statement that UCG would help reduce the backlog of premises unable to connect to the NBN.

"There is a significant backlog of premises passed by fibre that are not yet serviceable. UCG has the skills and expertise to help make these homes and businesses NBN-ready. Their work will mean more people will be able to experience the benefits of fast broadband sooner," he said.

The value of the deal was not disclosed.

NBN Co has today also re-signed Leighton Holdings subsidiaries Theiss and Silcar for NBN Co installation, activation, and maintenance in Queensland, NSW, and the ACT in a two-year deal worth up to AU$183 million.

Under the extension, the company will connect premises to the fibre, install the NBN connection boxes and power supplies, and complete the wiring inside the premises, as well as being responsible for the activation of NBN services and equipment repairs.

Theiss has said that it expects to be connecting up to 170,000 premises to the NBN each year.

The contract has the option of extension for an additional year.