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Local facilities in NBN Co contract win

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One Australian firm, and two internationals with local manufacturing facilities, will share a potential $1.2 billion in NBN Co contracts announced yesterday.

The company rolling out out the government-backed fibre-to-most-premises network has anointed Corning and Prysmian to supply optical fibre cables, with local company Warren & Brown Technologies to provide optical distribution frames and subracks.

Corning wins an initial order for $400 million, and Prysmian’s first order is valued at $150 million. Warren & Brown is to supply up to $110 million worth of its hardware over five years.

NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley says these contracts – and the potential follow-on orders – could create 400 jobs across the three companies. Both Corning and Prysmian have committed to expanding their Australian manufacturing facilities to meet the contracts.

As well as being inevitably welcomed by the Federal Government – via Innovation Minister, Senator Kim Carr – the local manufacturing and job-creation aspects of the contracts inspired a jingoistic frenzy in Australian media.

Interestingly, while Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has been at pains to stress the arms’-length nature of the NBN from government (in particular, its relationship with the budget and government debt), Senator Carr was just as keen for the government to take credit for the NBN Co purchases.

He described the announcements as providing an example of “where government procurement can play a critical role in our innovation strategies.”

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