One half of a joint venture formed to bid for the $12 billion nationwide NBN construction tender has been chosen to build fibre out to seven Tasmanian towns as part of the second stage of rollout on the island.
Instead, construction duties have fallen to Lend Lease subsidiary Conneq Infrastructure Services, which had submitted one of 14 bids for the national construction tender as part of a joint venture with Leighton Holdings firm John Holland.
Network wholesaler NBN Co scrapped those bids in early April citing bid submissions overcoming the company’s expectations. It is believed to be in private talks with another Leighton Holdings firm, Silcar, for primary contractor rights to nationwide, business-as-usual construction beyond the first and second release sites.
Conneq will roll out fibre-to-the-home technology to 11,150 premises at the towns of Deloraine, Kingston Beach, George Town, Sorell, South Hobart, St Helens and Triabunna. Rollout in the state is expected to begin in May in Triabunna and Sorell, with construction staged to begin across the remaining five sites between July and October. The sites will likely receive a high level of take-up due to opt-out legislation passed through state Parliament earlier in the year.
NBN Co acting head of construction, Dan Flemming, said in a statement that the staged construction would allow the wholesaler to incorporate learnings from established rollouts in stage one Tasmanian and mainland sites.
The exact location of fibre-connected premises became a cause for concern earlier this year, with communities in Bell Bay, Meander Valley and the East Tamar region near the chosen sites complaining of a lack of communication with the wholesaler on town planning.
NBN Co is reportedly considering allowing those customers who do not receive fibre to upgrade to a fixed line connection at an extra cost.
Tasmanian incumbent utility, Aurora Energy, has also remained as primary agent for construction of the site and will conduct “make-ready” procedures at the seven towns.
The utility was initially slated to form a joint venture with NBN Co to form NBN Tasmania. This was scrapped in favour of the Tasmanian wholesaler becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of NBN Co.
The wholesaler expects to connect services to end-users by the second half of 2012.
The seven second stage sites were first revealed toward the end of 2009. The island was chosen as a primary site for construction of the $36 billion network as a means of tackling one of the toughest areas for broadband adoption, according to communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy.
The company also revealed it would begin providing fixed wireless services as a second-best effort for those premises without satellite from the second half of next year. It has already purchased the spectrum required from pay television operator Austar, but is yet to reveal which technology will be used for the wireless aspect.
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