Telstra has agreed to let NBN Co use its pits and ducts for rollout of the National Broadband Network in NBN’s currently stalled second-release sites – but full rollout of the network will have to await the delayed vote by Telstra shareholders on the Government’s proposed $11 billion deal with the carrier, NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley told a parliamentary inquiry yesterday.
Work on the second-release sites was stalled last month after NBN Co indefinitely suspended construction contracts for its second-release sites, accusing all 14 tenderers of padding their tender pricing.
On the pits and ducts deal, Quigley said: “We’ve done a lot of preparatory work … but we really cannot press the final go button on volume until we have that deal finalised.”
He said that to proceed without the deal in place would end up costing the Government a lot more. If the deal goes ahead, he said: “We have available to us an enormous number of facilities. Huge facilities in terms of underground ducts, exchange facilities and backhaul facilities.
“If we were to ignore those, we may in fact go ahead and start building and then be building for example aerially where in fact we could have used the Telstra ducts. Or drilling underground and putting new duct in when there’s useable duct on the same street for Telstra.
The 19 new second-release sites include Bacchus Marsh and South Morang in Victoria; inner north Brisbane, Springfield Lakes and Toowoomba in Queensland; Riverstone and Coffs Harbour in NSW; Modbury and Prospect in SA; Victoria Park, Geraldton, and Mandurah in WA; Casuarina in the Northern Territory; and Gungahlin in the ACT.
Grilled about allegations of corruption in Costa Rica during his term as a top executive at Alcatel, Quigley reiterated that he had no knowledge of what had gone on, and had never been questioned over the matter by US authorities. He apologised for having previously stated he was not responsible for operations in Costa Rica, after learning that for a period in 2001-03 he was.
The joint Senate and Reps committee was established in April to report every six months on rollout of the NBN and achievement of take-up targets, among other matters. Yesterday’s sitting in Sydney was the first.