Telstra is shooting for $6 billion worth of contracts on Australia’s National Broadband Network, launching a pilot program to test its intended hardware.

A report in today’s business media says Telstra will install up to 300 node cabinet units, to each connect up to 300 locations to a broader fibre-optic network.

Negotiations are expected to continue for just a few more weeks, with construction to begin later this year if an agreement can be reached.

Industry sources cited said, if all goes well, Telstra could be in line for up to $6 billion in contracts.

“This would absolutely help [Telstra’s construction] chances. The other civil works companies may provide some competition but I see Telstra as being in the box seat here,” Ovum research director David Kennedy told the Australian Financial Review.

The tests are the first to indicate the nature of the hardware that will be used for the new version of the nationwide broadband network. The plan has shifted from an effort to connect all homes fibre-optically, to a series of nodes with copper wires running to homes.

Telstra has a rough history with the NBN, most recently saying it would only be interested in participating providing its profits were added to an $11.2 billion deal it is renegotiating with NBN Co, the government-owned company in charge.

Both Telstra and NBN Co have run some fibre-to-the-node pilot tests since the time of the federal election last year.

NBN Co’s new boss Bill Morrow starts this week, as the Coalition government moves to formalise, or form, its cheaper and slower alternative to the former government’s national broadband plan.