news The National Broadband Network company has signed a contract with one of its existing construction partners to roll out its fibre infrastructure in South Australia and the Northern Territory, which were not covered by its existing construction contractors.
The company said in a media release issued over the weekend that Syntheo, the joint venture between Lend Lease and Service Stream, had won the construction rights in the state and territory. Syntheo had already won the rights to handle the rollout in Western Australia, while Transfield Services will handle Victoria, and Silcar will take responsibility for NSW, Queensland and the ACT.
The value of the initial agreement with Syntheo is approximately $141 million, with a potential value of up to $341 million if extended for a further two years. The signing of the contract means NBN Co now has construction relationships spanning Australia.
“This contract completes the picture for the NBN as we are now in a position to start rolling out the National Broadband Network in every state and territory across Australia,” said NBN Co head of construction Dan Flemming in the company’s statement. “In fact, work in South Australia and the NT is already underway. We engaged contractors on a temporary basis for on-site design and other preliminary site works so Syntheo can hit the ground running.”
The news comes a month after NBN Co revealed the areas which it will target over the next 12 months in its 2012 rollout schedule. The company expects to reveal a similar three year rollout schedule early next year. The 28 new locations of the rollout range from metropolitan areas in major cities — such as Strathfield in Sydney and Modbury in Adelaide — to rural cities and towns such as Coffs Harbour, Wollongong, Toowoomba and more.
“Over the next year NBN Co and its construction partners will be operating in 60 communities across the country, rolling out fibre past half a million homes and businesses, not including greenfield sites,” the company said in its statement. It estimates that the average time from the start of works at a site to the activation of the first customer services is around 12 months.
NBN Co is now engaged in quite a sharp-ended political race for its own survival. If it can roll out its network to many hundreds of thousands of Australian premises — or even more than a million — over the next 12 months or so, it will stand in significantly better stead if the Coalition wins Government in the upcoming election, currently slated to be held in 2013.
If, however, the company’s rollout falters over that period and suffers extensive delays, cost overruns or other problems, it will be much more likely that much of the project will be scrapped under a Coalition Government. The engineers at NBN Co are currently walking a fine tight rope, with national fibre glory on one hand, and oblivion on the other.
Image credit: NBN Co