E-bulletin readers would by now be aware that Telstra has won a contract to design the wireline network elements of the Coalition government’s NBN#2 – the mixed platform network that will utilise elements of existing copper and HFC infrastructure as well as using fibre where appropriate.
The $390 million contract is for four years and should provide a steady flow of work for those Telstra employees with design skills and for those who can be retrained into such roles.
Telstra has already begun new training programmes in the design area in response this increased demand. It remains to be seen, however, how quickly it can ramp up its internal capabilities, depleted as they have been by ongoing redundancies.
During the last 18 months the CWU has had some success arguing for the retention of employees with design skills in anticipation of Telstra’s eventually being called in to the NBN project to help address the lack of design expertise in the wider industry.
The lack of such skills within the contractor companies has seen network design work sent offshore – with predictable results. The CWU has sighted local design documents showing fibre runs which were in fact blocked by trees or railway crossings. We have had direct feedback from sub-contractors on the uselessness of much of the NBN local FTTP network design documentation.
Such a situation represents a completely unacceptable waste of public money as well as a missed opportunity to create skilled jobs in Australia. Both Telstra and NBN Co now have an opportunity- and a responsibility - to see it is not repeated.