NBN Co has selected Alcatel-Lucent as the initial strategic supplier for the gigabit passive optical network (GPON) and Ethernet aggregation equipment needed for the National Broadband Network (NBN).
NBN Co head of corporate services, Kevin Brown, said the NBN Co planned to spend up to $1.5 billion on highly-specialised network equipment during the lifetime of the NBN project.
Brown said NBN Co had committed to an initial $70 million fixed price purchase from Alcatel with the option to additional equipment as the NBN grew in scale.
“The contract with Alcatel-Lucent allows NBN Co to purchase what it needs when it needs it, and allows NBN Co to engage other suppliers at a later date of our choosing,” Brown said in a statement.
The NBN Co said it had also entered into a $15 million contract for Alcatel-Lucent to provide services over the next 12 months to assist the company with engineering and testing activities in the initial deployment of technology for the NBN.
The news comes shortly after it was revealed NBN Co could gain access to 6 million kilometres worth of Telstra's fibre networks as part of the $11 billion Financial Heads of Agreement deal between the NBN wholesaler and the telco.
As part of the non-binding agreement, currently subject to approval by Telstra shareholders and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, NBN Co would gain access to existing Telstra infrastructure for construction of the national, fibre-to-the-home network. It would also gain the right to acquire Telstra backhaul services and space in the telco's exchanges.
Construction of the mainland trial sites for the NBN are set to begin next month, communications minister, Stephen Conroy, revealed in the Senate this week.
As part of the acceleration toward the national roll-out of the NBN, wholesaler NBN Co will deliver proposed services of at least 100 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream to a total of 12,316 households in the five trial sites on the Australian mainland. These comprise Brunswick in Melbourne, Townsville in Queensland, Willunga in South Australia, and two sites in NSW: Armidale and premises in the neighbouring Minnamurra and Kiama areas.
The first live NBN services will become active from next month at Smithton, Scottsdale and Midway Point in Tasmania, with Internode, iiNet and iPrimus all offering tiered speeds of between 25Mbps and 100Mbps.