'It's a spaghetti junction down there': NBN comes to the Perth CBD
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'It's a spaghetti junction down there': NBN comes to the Perth CBD

A contractor shimmies his way out of a manhole on Goderich Street in East Perth where he and his colleagues are working to connect scores of apartments to the National Broadband Network.

"It's a spaghetti juntion down there - and this is just a residential street. Wait till we hit St Georges Terrace. That's going to be fun."

This street is one of the first in central Perth to be prepared for the NBN, and work crews are now steadily fanning out across the CBD to make every building "ready to connect", with 13,500 premises in and around the centre including parts of East Perth and Northbridge to be done.

An NBN workers scrambles out of a 'spaghetti junction' in Perth's CBD.

An NBN workers scrambles out of a 'spaghetti junction' in Perth's CBD.

Photo: David Allan-Petale

It's a big task, and some of the contractors in the crew WAtoday saw in action on Goderich Street recently worked on the highly complex Sydney Light Rail project.

The network is being built in Perth's suburbs with regional infrastructure mostly completed throughout WA. In the CBD the rollout should see areas there progressively made ready to connect from December 2018.

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NBN Co's WA local manager Jane McNamara said the Perth CBD build represents one of the network's bigger tasks.

"We’re connecting buildings all over the city, from the small bars along Wolf Lane to huge office towers on St Georges Terrace, and every one of those buildings is different," she said.

"In some cases there can be months of detailed design, planning and negotiation with multiple stakeholders – including the City of Perth and major utilities such as Main Roads before any actual construction work can begin.

"While in other cases, the build itself that can present challenges with so many people working in and passing through the CBD each day.

"People should visit the NBN website to check their individual address to find out when they can order a plan."

Business opens up

The CBD is already criss-crossed with fibre connections for major buildings, and most large businesses and organisations have their net infrastructure sorted privately or by network providers such as Optus.

Brodie McCulloch - founder and managing director of the co-working group and start-up incubator Spacecubed - said the NBN will be another option for net connection for larger companies and buildings, who may use it as a back up or even switch to a business service offered through it.

But he said the main business beneficiaries of the NBN in the city will be smaller enterprises, such as the scores of tech start-ups concentrated in the CBD.

"For Spacecubed, which has hundreds of members and businesses using our spaces daily, we have multiple enterprise 800mb fiber connections to ensure there is always high-speed access to the internet," he said.

The NBN is being installed in Perth's CBD.

The NBN is being installed in Perth's CBD.

Photo: David Allan-Petale

"For residential or small businesses setting up in the CBD, the NBN will provide access to 20mb - 100mb connections that otherwise wouldn't have been possible in the past for a reasonable price, which can only be good for enabling business."

Ms McNamara said businesses in Perth will be able to use the NBN to support their work and growth.

“NBN Co has a range of wholesale product capabilities suitable for small, medium and enterprise organisations which includes high speeds, symmetrical bandwidth, voice services, enhanced service level agreements, and technology upgrades where required and available.”

David Allan-Petale is a Fairfax Media journalist and writer based in Western Australia, breaking news with a focus on arts and culture.