NBN Co has launched new simulated training facilities for more than 2,000 external in-field telecommunications workers as part of its ongoing efforts to work with industry to improve end customer experience.
The company behind the rollout of Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) opened its first NBN Network Simulation Lab on 23 March at TAFE NSW’s Lidcombe campus with plans to launch additional facilities across Australia throughout 2018.
The simulation labs will provide training access and practical assessments on every fixed-line technology solution used to deliver the NBN, including fibre-to-the-premises (FttP), fibre-to-the-node (FttN), fibre-to-the-building (FttB), fibre-to-the-curb (FttC) and hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC).
External field workers will learn how to deploy, activate and maintain the NBN through the simulation of a variety of challenges and complexities that arise when rolling out the network in real world scenarios – a factor that has led to delays for some end customers.
According to NBN Co, trainees will also be able to get real-time experiences in connecting pits and pipes to homes and businesses, installing equipment before the network is activated and helping to resolve connection faults.
The simulated training labs will be delivered by NBN Co’s panel of 10 approved training providers, which are able to provide training to external workers nominated by the company’s delivery partners across major fixed-line delivery contracts.
The providers include Central Regional TAFE, EnerSafe, Federation Training, Holmesglen Institute of TAFE, JB Hunter Technology, Milcom, Perpetual Learning Institute, Ramsden Telecommunications Training (trading as Comtech), TAFE NSW, TAFE QLD Skills Tech.
“With more than 30,000 workers out in the field helping to roll the [NBN] access network out, we remain committed to the continuous development of a highly capable workforce, to ensure the network delivers the quality Australians expect,” NBN Co’s chief network engineering officer, Peter Ryan, said.
“There are lots of complexities which come up when working on a live network that can impact the way a technician needs to complete an installation or fix a fault.
“The benefit of these labs is that we can program problems and challenges for workers to deal with before they get out in the field. They can immediately see how their actions impact a live network and can start building their expertise from day one,” he said.
NBN Co’s Network Simulation Labs are part of the network provider’s Industry Capability Solutions Program, which launched in 2015 with a $40 million investment to boost the capacity and capability of the workforce employed by the company’s approved Delivery Partners.
The latest move to train up external field workers is part of NBN Co’s efforts to improve the ration of connections that are executed “right first time” without the need for return visits to fix up issues.
“In the last year, we have increased our ability to deliver network installations right the first time from eight out of ten times to around nine out of ten today – the new [NBN Co] Network Simulation Labs are part of our plan to ensure we continue to improve,” Ryan said.
The company has come under scrutiny over issues with new connections, with the network provider going so far as to put a temporary hold on all new orders over its hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) access network as it worked to overcome technical issues with the technology.