NBN signs fibre network construction contracts for FttDP

Following the government's AU$19.5 billion equity injection last month, NBN has announced signing new fibre construction contracts with Fulton Hogan, Downer, and Service Stream.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

The company rolling out Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) has announced signing three more design and construction master agreements (DCMAs) for the rollout of its fibre-to-the-distribution-point/curb (FttDP/FttC), fibre-to-the-node (FttN), fibre-to-the-premises (FttP), and fibre-to-the-basement (FttB) networks.

The DCMAs cover around 525,000 premises throughout Sydney and Melbourne, "most" of which will be connected by FttDP, NBN said.

The contracts see long-time construction partners Fulton Hogan -- which signed a new four-year DCMA in October to roll out multi-technology mix (MTM) broadband services to around 450,000 premises in new development areas -- Downer, and Service Stream building out the services.

"The new agreements will support our world-leading FttC technology," NBN chief network engineering officer Peter Ryan said.

"Importantly, we have the flexibility to deploy other technologies easily over time. The design and construction framework is intended to enable a faster rollout, by providing end-to-end accountability for the footprint."

NBN added that it is also currently negotiating variations with its planning and design services agreement (PDSA) and multi-technology integrated master agreement (MIMA) contractors to add FttC to the mix.

The company last month also announced that NetComm Wireless will be supplying its FttDP/FttC distribution point units (DPUs) and related services.

Under the Master Equipment and Services Supply Agreement, NetComm Wireless will supply an unspecified number of one-port and four-port DPUs to be installed in pits outside premises to connect the legacy copper with fibre.

NetComm Wireless said the supply of services would "likely commence" in FY18.

"NBN is delighted to bring NetComm Wireless on board as a technology partner. We have tested FttC over the past year, and we're confident we can now deploy the technology in areas where it makes better sense from a customer experience, deployment efficiency, and cost perspective," Ryan said in November.

"Delivering FttC will not only allow us to deliver speeds of up to 100/40Mbps using VDSL, but will also allow us to offer even faster speeds in the future with some of the new technologies that are becoming available.

"NBN has a flexible and technology-agnostic approach to deploying the NBN network, and we are confident that when we launch FttC services we will deliver a great experience for end users."

The renegotiating and signing of new contracts follows the government in November providing the extra AU$19.5 billion needed for NBN to complete its rollout of high-speed broadband across the nation.

NBN CEO Bill Morrow said the government loan would allow NBN to focus solely on the rollout rather than also raising funding privately.

NBN's 2017 Corporate Plan revealed that under the MTM, a base case of 2 million or 17 percent of premises will be covered by FttP; 6.1 million or 51 percent by FttN/B/DP; 2.8 million or 24 percent by hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC); and 1 million or 8 percent by fixed-wireless or satellite.

NBN in September announced that it would be replacing the Optus hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) footprint with its FttDP network, with up to 700,000 premises to be covered by the new network technology, which will also be deployed in some areas previously slated to receive FttN network connections.

ZDNet revealed last month, however, that NBN will be launching its FttDP network not with new G.fast as per its trials and research on the benefits of the faster network technology, but instead with old VDSL technology.

NBN said it had decided to use VDSL across its FttDP network "in order to make it simpler for our retail service providers to offer services to end-user premises".

NBN has been trialling FttDP across Sydney and Melbourne since April, previously saying that it would look at launching FttDP services in 2018 for "several hundred thousand" premises. In October last year, NBN signalled its intent to deploy FttDP for premises that are located more than 1 kilometre from a node.

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