South Australia-based electricity network distributor SA Power Networks is set to roll out construction of the National Broadband Network to around 300,000 homes and businesses in Adelaide and regional South Australia as network builder NBN Co seeks to ramp up expansion of the network.
In a statement released earlier this week, NBN CO says it has awarded the company a three-year contract to design and build the local and distribution network, which runs from a local communications exchange (Fibre Access Node) through each street within the contract area.
The latest contract, which will see up to 400 people will be employed at peak construction and includes options for two one-year extensions, is the second such contract to be awarded after a two-year contract was awarded to a joint venture between infrastructure builder Service Stream and Lend Lease known as Syntheo in November of 2011.
Syntheo has had a strained relationship with NBN Co, having failed to meet roll-out targets, after which it was forced to hand back the part of its contract relating to the Northern Territory earlier this year. A spokesperson for NBN Co denied the awarding of the contract had anything to do with this and instead represented an escalation of efforts to ramp up work on the network.
The spokesperson pointed to other states where additional contractors have been taken on to speed up the roll-out such as Victoria where work is being carried out by VisionStream and Transfield, and added the NBN Co target specifies a more than sixfold increase in number of premises throughout Australia which, according to forecast numbers, should have passed from 207,000 as at June 2013 to 1.3 billion in June 2014.
Though NBN Co did not specify the areas covered by the new contract, work is set to start in 14 new areas across South Australia within one year, mainly in and around Adelaide, and in some 42 areas over the next three years.
Work is already complete in around 18 areas throughout the state and is underway in around 50 more.
Formerly known as ESTA Utilities, SA Power Networks built the first release site in Willunga, around 47 kilometres from Adelaide near McLaren, which had a take-up rate of around 63.4 per cent at the start of June.