NBN Co has begun work on an internal multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) network as part of its operations and billing support system.
The capability, to be deployed by the middle of next year, would provide a network management communications layer to NBN Co's systems, allowing the firm to push fault and service calls between the planned 121 points of interconnect on the network to the company's core systems.
NBN Co this week awarded Cisco a $38 million contract over five years for MPLS-capable routers and firewalls that would sit in what it called its 'National Connectivity Network'.
It will ultimately replace an interim system put in place using Alcatel-Lucent gear as NBN Co implemented temporary points of interconnect and began manually connecting users to the network at the first trial sites.
A spokeswoman for the company confirmed the MPLS element of the network would be solely for NBN Co's use, and not offered to retail service providers.
"This equipment will enable communication between NBN Co's centralised operational staff and IT systems with the fibre, fixed wireless and satellite equipment situated at various locations across Australia," said Tony Cross, NBN Co's executive general manager of network architecture and technology.
"The remote control of this equipment, via the [connectivity network], will allow new services to be activated and faults to be diagnosed and repaired quickly and efficiently across Australia."
The connectivity network was included as a core part of the operations support system in network architecture documentation circulated by NBN Co last year, but had received little mention before the tender was finalised with Cisco.
A consortium of vendors and support companies, led by IBM, has rolled out the majority of elements associated with NBN Co's billing and support systems under a $200 million contract awarded last year.
The contract included an alarms and disruption management system sitting on top of the MPLS layer now being built for the expected scale of the national network.