NBN Co has invested over $100 million in ten "multi-purpose" facilities that can act as points-of-interconnect (PoIs) to support the scale out of the broadband network.
The network builder announced it had awarded a tender to Emerson Network Power late last week to drop pre-fabricated infrastructure into ten sites nationwide.
Two facilities each are to be housed in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane.
Emerson and its partners Silcar and Greenbox have under a year to construct the facilities, which include data centre power and cooling modules and potentially on-site substations.
Neither party was able to detail why NBN Co required these "multi-purpose" facilities to be constructed at such short notice.
An Emerson spokesman declined to reveal for what purpose the facilities were being constructed, saying only they would act as an "equipment hub, operational depot and training facility".
However, an NBN Co spokesman confirmed to iTnews that the facilities could be used as points of interconnect - points at which NBN traffic is handed over to an access seeker's network.
"These have generally been designed as multi-purpose facilities, including the ability to house the points of interconnect," NBN Co's spokesman said.
A PoI by any other name
Emerson and NBN Co's reticence to brand the facilities as PoIs outright is likely to be the result of ongoing discussions between NBN Co and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that involve PoI locations.
The locations of the PoIs form part of the NBN Co "special access undertaking" that the ACCC needs to approve to form the basis of wholesale prices on the NBN.
NBN Co is yet to lodge the proposed full text of the undertaking with the ACCC.
The ACCC said at the end of last month that "extensive" discussions on the undertaking are continuing.
Without lodgment and approval, NBN Co is unable to immediately say that the ten "multi-purpose" facilities will definitely be PoIs.
It will need to seek clearance from the ACCC to house any of the planned 121 PoIs in one of these "multi-purpose" locations.
"Final locations are still being determined subject to consultation with the ACCC," the NBN Co spokesman said.
But NBN Co needs to be able to move quickly on PoI locations once it gains regulatory approval to prevent further rollout delays.
It is thought that a redesign of PoI locations earlier this year contributed to rollout delays in mainland second release sites.
Other than PoIs
The infrastructure combination being targeted at the "multi-purpose" sites suggested they could be used to support distributed data centre assets, although this could not be confirmed.
In the more immediate future, the spaces may serve as equipment and repair kit stockpiles that NBN Co first foreshadowed in February.
These stockpiles were anticipated to be placed at about 1,000 fibre access node (FAN) sites across the network by the time the network was completed.
Head of network operations Steve Christian told iTnews earlier this year that some locations that ran high-density networking kit would also carry "warm" spares that could be hot-swapped into the NBN in case of an equipment failure.