NBN Co selects Alcatel-Lucent as key GPON equipment supplier

Plans to spend up to $1.5 billion on networking equipment during project lifetime

NBN Co has selected Alcatel-Lucent as the initial strategic supplier for the gigabit passive optical network (GPON) and Ethernet aggregation equipment required to operate its fibre access network.

Alcatel-Lucent will act as lead supplier for the national project. NBN Co plans to spend up to $1.5 billion on networking equipment during the lifetime of the project

In a statement, NBN Co head of corporate services, Kevin Brown, said the company had committed to an initial $70 million fixed price purchase with the option to buy as much equipment as the company needed as the project grew in scale.

He said that during the construction phase the rollout of the fibre network would be passing as many as 4000 premises a day at its peak.

NBN Co has also entered into a $15 million contract for Alcatel-Lucent to provide services over the next 12 months to assist NBN Co with engineering and testing activities in the initial deployment of technology for the fibre network.

NBN Co intends to engage other GPON equipment suppliers who will interoperate with Alcatel-Lucent’s GPON equipment once it achieves full rollout scale.

“The contract with Alcatel-Lucent allows NBN Co to purchase what it needs when it needs it, and allows NBN Co to engage other suppliers at a later date of our choosing,” Brown said.

The active equipment is manufactured in large-scale electronics facilities offshore, and installation and testing will occur locally.

More than 500 Alcatel-Lucent engineers based in Australia are expected to install and test the equipment, as well as more than 200 engineers in NBN Co.

NBN Co has strong ties to the vendor - NBN Co chief executive officer, Mike Quigley, was formerly Alcatel's COO and president. He led the company’s negotiations of the multi-billion dollar merger with Lucent Technologies before returning to Australia and taking on the NBN Co lead.