NBN Co is finalising the selection of several "first release sites" across Australia where it will validate its network design in areas it believes replicate the challenges it will experience nationwide.
Work was expected to start "early in the second half of the year," NBN Co's executive chairman Mike Quigley told the Senate Select Committee today.
Quigley said the sites would test the impact of the rollout in different terrains, housing types, on existing technical infrastructure "and other local factors".
He said the company was looking for "a suburban area" with semi-detached homes and multi-dwelling units (MDUs), plus, "a smaller rural town" and o"ther places between the two" location types.
Quigley believed the real-world deployments would provide useful data on issues including aerial versus underground fibre deployment, and the deployment of optical networking terminals in or outside homes.
"We'll be issuing a request for tenders shortly for companies to participate in the design phase, then a further request for proposals for the construction phase," Quigley said.
Quigley also revealed that NBN Co would soon announce the establishment of a network operations centre, integration lab and data centre. At its peak, the facility would employ 250 people.
"The integration lab will provide a full multi-vendor end-to-end test environment where we do systems integration," Quigley said.
"It's where all the equipment will be tested prior to deployment in a live network.
"It's also an environment where service providers - our customers - can test their connections to the NBN."