NBN Co has announced the winning companies that will build mainland Australia’s first four National Broadband Network sites.
The successful contractors are:
- Silcar Pty Ltd for Armidale, NSW
- Transfield Services for Minnamurra/Kiama Downs, NSW
- ETSA Utilities for Willunga, SA
- Ergon Energy for Townsville, QLD
Telstra is in negotiations to build the fifth at Brunswick, Victoria, using existing ducts and pipes.
NBN Co CEO, Mike Quigley, said this is the second phase of the rollout. Retail service providers will then come on board to offer NBN services to customers inside the sites.
Only one of the successful contractors from the first phase of the rollout, Transfield Services, has been picked to take part in this stage. Homes and businesses in the sites will all be connected to the fibre optic network free of charge.
“The sites will have a mix of underground and aerial deployment determined by a combination of factors, including the availability of existing underground ducts or overhead power poles to access premises,” Quigley said.
According to NBN Co head of construction, Patrick Flannagan, the deal with Telstra is in its final stages of negotiation.
“I don’t see any major issues there. The mood at Telstra is quite positive and cooperative,” he said. “We have after all signed a pretty substantial heads of agreement so the feel of the thing is we’re working closely to get it built.
Flannagan claimed the signing of the financial heads of agreement with Telstra had no impact on its successful win at the Brunswick.
“We want to work with as many of our potential contracting companies,” he said. “We’ve chosen five different companies to work with so we want to start to build some of those relationships.”
While NBN Co’s announcement of second release sites included plans to expand the original five, Flannagan said there was no guarantee these contractors would be allowed stay on.
Construction giant, John Holland, was responsible for the rollout of Tasmania’s National Broadband Network and had tendered for work in this stage. Despite a case where a young worker was electrically shocked, Flannagan said this was not a reflection on John Holland’s performance in Tasmania.
“Incidents on projects like this will unfortunately occur and it’s how you deal with them when they occur that is most important,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it negatively impacted on John Holland at all.”
Flannagan said while council approval would not be required in areas where the fibre cabling runs underground or has a low impact, it would be needed in some cases when it is installed overhead.
“We’re making sure we get the right sorts of local council engagement and approval where required,” he said. “There are no problems on that front… people are saying “me next” and “when are you coming here?
“We’ll commence construction within four to six weeks,” he added. “We hope to be finished by later on this year.”
The announcement comes on the back of mainland Australia's second release sites being nominated.