The ICT industry may be rejoicing over the Government’s national broadband network (NBN) announcement but the project could leave technology distributors out in the cold.
The Federal Government announced last week that it will build the $43 billion NBN itself on a wholesale-only basis. A Government-led company will be established to oversee the project for the next 7-8 years. The network will be based on a fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) technology.
Optic fibre manufacturer, Optimal, is one company in with a chance to get a cut of the $43 billion.
“We definitely see opportunities for our company,” Optimal marketing general manager, Paul Cross, said. “We won’t plan to get involved until the Government divulges more information but we are definitely interested.”
Cross said optic fibre manufacturers would have to work together to lay out the NBN.
“I’d be surprised if one company will roll it out alone,” he said. “Depending on how much cable the network needs, the Government will probably need multiple suppliers.”
Despite the potential boon, distributors would most likely be cut out of the action, he said.
“For our contract works we supply direct,” Optimal customer service manager, Wayne McKnight, said. “Our distributors include Madison Technologies, Page Data and PacifiCom but with big projects like the NBN it is usually a go-direct approach and no distributors are involved.”
After the surprise announcement last week ICT representative bodies welcomed the NBN decision, highlighting the potential for an employment boost in the industry.
However, not all the benefits will go to ICT.
Buddecomm director and analyst, Paul Budde, said construction and materials would be a big part of the NBN rollout.
“In terms of building the network, construction and laying out the cables is very important,” he said. “When the cables are in place, that is when the intelligence comes in and then you have to make up standards about technology.”
Alcatel-Lucent CTO, Ric Clark, claimed more than 50 per cent of the budget would go into civil construction.
“If anything, the NBN has a bigger impact in the contracting and building industry,” he said.