The federal government's NBN Co has announced the successful contractors which will work on construction of the passive optical fibre network in the five first release sites on the Australian mainland.
Of the five companies chosen to do the building work, NBN Co is in discussions with Telstra on the potential design and construction solutions for the Brunswick, Victoria site.
The deal may also make use of existing Telstra infrastructure. Last month the NBN and Telstra came to an $11 billion agreement on infrastructure sharing.
Telstra is committed to working with NBN Co and diversifying its services in light of the new deal.
Transfield Services has been chosen for construction work at the Minnamurra/Kiama Downs site in NSW.
The others are Silcar for Armidale, NSW; ETSA Utilities for Willunga, South Australia; and Ergon Energy which will construct the passive optical fibre network in Townsville, Queensland.
NBN Co announced it would locate its network operations centre in Melbourne earlier this month.
NBN Co chief executive officer, Mike Quigley, said homes and businesses in the first release sites will be offered free fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) connections.
“Premises will then be NBN ready when retail service providers start to use our network to offer high-speed broadband services,” Quigley said.
The first release sites were announced in March to test the rollout in areas of different terrain, housing type and density, demographics, climate, existing infrastructure and other local factors, according to NBN Co.
Moreover, NBN Co believes selecting a mix of construction contractors and power utilities will allow it to evaluate the suitability of different building companies.
Quigley said 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.
The construction of the passive optical network is the first of three phases of NBN work and is planned to start in the second half of 2010.
The second stage will see NBN Co deploy some of the active network equipment in the fibre access nodes to allow NBN Co to “light up” the fibre in readiness for service delivery.
Stage three will involve work with retail service providers to give them access to the network for consumer services.