Australia’s NBN Co has announced the awarding of construction contracts with a total value of approximately AUD1.1 billion (USD819 million), to help ‘extend fibre deeper into communities and advance the capability, reach and value of the [National Broadband Network, NBN] for Australian homes and businesses’.
In a press release regarding the matter, NBN Co said that the contracts it has signed form part of a AUD2.9 billion investment under which it will upgrade large parts of its fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) infrastructure to fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP). A total of four contracts ‘of various sizes’ have been awarded to Downer Group, Fulton Hogan Utilities, Lendlease Services and Ventia (through its Visionstream subsidiary) following a competitive tender process. According to NBN Co, the combined portfolio of contracts covers design and construction and will support its network investment plan to make its highest wholesale speed plans available, on demand, to up to 75% of the homes and businesses covered by its fixed line infrastructure by 2023.
To date, more than 1.1 million premises currently served by NBN Co’s FTTN technology have been identified as part of the network evolution plan, while up to two million will become eligible for the upgrade to FTTP 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 works, with the new fibre to pass up to 200,000 premises. The new contracts 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 has said it 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.
Meanwhile, NBN Co has also confirmed that it is planning to commence similar full fibre upgrades, on demand, for eligible customers living or working in premises currently served by fibre-to-the-distribution-point (FTTdp) technology – referred to by NBN Co as fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC).