NBN Co taps Silcar, Service Stream for fibre maintenance

NBN Co has awarded contracts worth up to AU$142 million over two years to Service Stream and Silcar, to maintain the NBN and install network terminating units in premises.

Service Stream and Silcar have picked up contacts worth up to AU$142 million to maintain the National Broadband Network (NBN) fibre network and install boxes outside premises to connect homes to the network.

The contracts require the companies to install fibre cable from the "premises connection device", which is dropped into a premise during the NBN's roll-out, and onto a network terminating device that customers can then connect their routers to in order to connect to the NBN. Both Service Stream and Silcar will be expected to provide service and fault repair, and will be responsible for restoring damaged fibre in the event of accident or natural disaster. They will also be required to install new fibre as the network evolves or new sub-divisions are created.

Service Stream will be responsible for maintenance in Victoria, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia. The two year contract is worth up to AU$64 million.

Silcar has picked up the work in Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT, in a two-year contract worth up to AU$78 million. The company was contracted in June 2011 to construct the fibre network in those states and territory, in a deal worth up to AU$380 million.

Transfield Services and Syntheo, which secured the construction contracts in the other states and territories, were not contracted for maintenance of the network.

Both contracts with Silcar and Service Stream are open to being extended for a maximum of two extra years.

NBN Co's Head of Operations Steve Christian said that the contracts would boost jobs around the country.

"They boost potential job prospects for technicians and installers, not just with the major contractors. We expect those companies will generate considerable opportunities for regional subcontractors, too, as high-speed broadband becomes available in each local community," Christian said in a statement.

Originally, NBN Co had planned on obtaining consent from residents before installing fibre onto each premise it passes, but since the release of the revised corporate plan , the company has decided that, to cut down on costs, it will roll out the premises connection device outside of people's premises, and then drop in the network terminating device on-premises when a customer requests a service.

In June, it was reported that Silcar would not tender for future construction contracts with NBN Co due to delays with its existing contract. This claim was denied by both NBN Co and Silcar.