Construction firm John Holland has won the stage one contract to roll out fibre backhaul links connecting the first 10 towns to Tasmania’s NBN network.
Tasmanian Premier made the announcement at the Realising our Broadband Future forum in Sydney today, ahead of his keynote address.
“I understand [John Holland] will commence work almost immediately on backhaul that stitches [together] the ten towns already announced as first cabs off the rank [in the Tasmanian portion of the NBN],” Bartlett said.
“John Holland will subcontract that work out to a whole range of Tasmanian firms. I’m now very confident that the physical infrastructure rollout will go ahead, be on time and deliver fibre right across to the state.”
Firms to benefit from subcontracts included Russell Smith Electrical and Communications, GHD Tasmania, Hazell Bros, Nu Energy, Power and Electrical, Scott Devereaux Excavations and Com Star Systems.
Work was expected to be completed within the first quarter of next year.
In a statement, Bartlett said the first section of backhaul would stretch from Port Latta to Smithton on Tasmania’s north-west coast.
The second stage would connect George Town on the north coast - the Tasmanian terminus of the Basslink subsea cable - to St Helens on the east coast.
“The third and final leg will connect the outer Hobart suburb of Midway Point to the lower east coast town of Triabunna,” the statement said.
Bartlett also outlined his government’s interest in smart grids given the close overlay of the fibre network with Tasmania’s electricity grid.
He also said that the State Government would provide $1 million in funding to four “key industry sector” representative bodies including the Tasmanian Small Business Council and Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association.
The money was to be used to make their constituencies aware of the benefits the NBN could provide their businesses, Bartlett said.
He claimed that the price of data between Tasmania and the mainland had dropped by some 80 percent as a result of previous infrastructure investments, such as the Basslink subsea cable which competes with Telstra undersea links.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy would not be drawn on the total cost of the NBN in Tasmania.
“TNBN Co are still finalising that,” Conroy said.
“We have a rough idea of what we think it’s going to cost but as a Commonwealth we don’t want to reveal what our envelope is because we want to get the best value from that envelope [in our negotiations].”