Telstra has secured a $1.6b contract with nbn to upgrade the Hybrid Fibre Coaxial Cable (HFC) network which was transferred to nbn in 2014 as part of the Coalition’s Multi Technology Mix (MTM) strategy.
Telstra and nbn signed a Memorandum of Understanding in relation to this contract late last year but the scope of the work Telstra would undertake was not clear at that time. The latest announcement specifies that Telstra will provide Planning, Design, Construction and Construction Management services within the existing Telstra Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC) footprint.
According to Telstra’s press release, the works are expected to continue until the end of the nbn build, slated to be completed by 2020, and include geographic areas within the Telstra HFC network footprint in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth and Adelaide.
All design, program management, construction management and scheduling activities will be undertaken by Telstra.
Construction is split into two areas – field construction activities will largely be performed by nbn’s prime contractors, while in-exchange construction activities and some upstream in-field activities will be undertaken by Telstra.
The CWU welcomes the decision to engage Telstra in this work, not only because it will provide employment opportunities for its Telstra members but also because it is entirely rational.
The company is obviously better placed than others in the industry to undertake an upgrade of its own network, even if it does not perform all the actual construction work. The same holds true for the FTTN section of the MTM network, where again Telstra is responsible for design.
The failure to recognise –or admit- this reality has been a weaknesses of the NBN project from its inception and has been a major factor in delaying the upgrade of the national wireline access network to provide high speed broadband.