Australia’s NBN Co has awarded construction contracts with a total value of approximately AUD$1.1 billion to extend fibre deeper into communities and advance the capability, reach and value of the nbn network for Australian homes and businesses.
The contracts form part of the company’s $2.9 billion investment to upgrade large parts of the Fibre to the Node (FTTN) network to Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), on demand. The four contracts of various sizes were awarded to Downer Group, Fulton Hogan Utilities, Lendlease Services and Ventia (through its Visionstream subsidiary) following a competitive tender process.
The combined portfolio of contracts cover design and construction to support NBN Co’s network investment plan to make its highest wholesale speed plans available, on demand, to up to 75 per cent of households and businesses on the fixed line network by 2023.
It is expected these new contracts will create up to 10,000 jobs during the peak design and construction period of the network investment plan. A range of roles in the design and construction industry are expected to be required, including telecommunication technicians, fibre haulers and splicers, civil construction workers, engineers, designers, safety inspectors, project managers and more.
To date, more than 1.1 million homes and businesses currently served by NBN Co’s FTTN technology have been identified as part of the company’s network evolution plan, and up to two million will become eligible for the upgrade to FTTP, on demand, by 2023.
Design and construction activity commenced towards the end of 2020 on local fibre network upgrades for the suburbs and towns that were announced in the first two upgrade tranches of upgrade activity, with the new fibre to pass up to 200,000 premises.
The new contracts will cover design and construction activity for the balance of the 1.8 million additional premises to be made eligible for upgrades from FTTN to FTTP by 2023.
NBN Co’s selection criteria for its upgrade program is based on areas where the company anticipates strong demand for higher speeds; where it can provide maximum benefit to the most customers; where it can deploy with speed and agility; and where its investment will have the greatest economic benefit.
NBN Co is also planning to commence similar full fibre upgrades to be made available, on demand, to eligible customers living or working in premises currently served by Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) technology.
NBN Co expects to initiate a small-scale launch to enable the first customers in eligible areas to place orders with internet retailers for fibre lead-ins and higher speed services by the end of 2021.
The geographical scope of works for the respective contracts announced are as follows:
- Downer Group – Western Australia, NSW
- Fulton Hogan Utilities – Western Australia, South Australia
- Lendlease Services – Queensland, NSW, Victoria, ACT
- Ventia (Visionstream) – Queensland, NSW, Victoria
Northern Territory and Tasmanian network investment plan upgrades will be delivered under other existing nbn construction contract arrangements
Kathrine Dyer, Chief Operations Officer at NBN Co, said: “We are very pleased to work with these delivery partners to continue to evolve the nbn network and ensure more Australian homes and businesses can access the broadband services they need to remain productive while working and studying from home, and also to enjoy all of the entertainment and social benefits that high-speed broadband delivers.
“Not only will this work help deliver greater broadband access to more homes and businesses, but these network investments will also help stimulate job creation and retention through new build activities that would otherwise have scaled down at the end of our initial build.
“We remain on track to achieve our goal of enabling around eight million premises or up to 75 per cent of homes and businesses on the fixed line network to access nbn’s highest wholesale speed tiers, if they so choose, by 2023.”