NBN Co targets unserviceable premises in Tasmania

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NBN Co targets unserviceable premises in Tasmania

Also renews $183 million Silcar contract.

NBN Co has signed a new contractor in Tasmania as part of its effort to reduce the number of customers counted as passed by fibre but unable to order a service through the national broadband network.

The national network builder earlier this month revealed it would appoint a second partner in the state alongside existing contractor Visionstream, as part of a renewed effort to target unserviceable premises.

Such premises are classed as "service class zero" - meaning the fibre has passed the property, but additional work needs to be done before the customer can order a service.

NBN Co in April decided to stop declaring fibre-servicing area modules (FSAMs) as ready for service (which allows retail service providers to take orders for NBN services) until 90 percent of the premises in the FSAM are able to order a service.

According to NBN Co's weekly rollout statistics as at September 4, of the 190,000 premises in Tasmania slated to receive fibre to the premise (FTTP), 38,362 brownfield premises are classified as passed, but 4540 of these are sitting at service class zero.

A recent document sent to NBN retail service providers (RSPs), sighted by iTnews, reveals NBN Co was withholding six fibre serving areas in Tasmania from release because it lacked the field resources to manage the number of orders being placed for Tasmanian NBN services.

"Demand for NBN Co services in Tasmania is currently greater than the available NBN Co activations resourcing capacity, which has caused long lead-times for end-users to get an installation appointment," the letter to RSPs read.

"Six FSAMs are approaching [ready for service] in Tasmania, and NBN Co has taken the decision to phase the release of these FSAMs so that lead-times for end-user orders are not extended further."

As such, NBN Co today announced an extended partnership with contractor Universal Communications Group in Tasmania, as well as NSW and the ACT.

The company has been connecting multi-dwelling units to fibre since 2012.

As part of the new deal, UCG will connect single-dwelling units - mostly private households - to the NBN using the build drop method, where it connects fibre optic cables that have already been installed in the street to the wall of the premise.

The contract will be on an as-needs basis and will last two years, an NBN Co spokesperson said. They declined to reveal the value of the contract, which the spokesperson said was commercial in confidence.

The contractor will double its workforce in the state to around 210 in order to reduce the number of unserviceable premises.

Tasmania had been designated a first mover state for fibre-to-the-premise under the former Labor Government's FTTP NBN.

The Coalition Government had previously promised to rollout FTTP to 200,000 premises in Tasmania prior to forming government 2013, but changed its approach as part of its new multi-technology mix national broadband network.

The Tasmanian Government has lobbied the federal government to continue the fibre rollout but has been unsuccessful.

Silcar work renewed

NBN contractor Silcar, owned by Thiess, also today announced the renewal of its contract for the installation, activation and maintenance of premises for the NBN across Queensland, NSW and the ACT.

The one-year extension Silcar had been granted for its former $700 million contract expired this month.

NBN Co today awarded Silcar a new initial two-year partnership with a possible one-year extension, in a deal Silcar expects will bring in revenues of up to $183 million.

The company expects to connect 170,000 premises per year on average under the new field services contract.

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