Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Australia to build national broadband network

The Australian Government has announced plans to build a national broadband network as a major infrastructure project to improve Internet access and speeds for the future. As reported by The Australian, the announcement was made by Kevin Rudd, outlining the plans to create a government-owned company to develop and run the National Broadband Network.

Having rejected a number of proposals by corporate contractors to develop the network, the Government has now decided that it will make the initial investment through a joint-company with developers, but intends to sell its interest within 5 years of the network's completion, depending on market conditions and national and identity security considerations. The project will invest up to $43 billion over eight years and the Government will initially put $4.7 billion to the project. Other funding will come from private investors, including through the issue of bonds to the general public.

The network will go beyond 'fibre to the node' to provide 'fibre to the premises', which means laying real optical fibre direct to properties rather than just a down the street. According to the Government, the network will connect 90% of all Australian homes, schools and workplaces with broadband services with speeds of up to 100 megabits per second, 100 times faster than those currently used by many households and businesses. It will also connect all other premises in Australia with next generation wireless and satellite technologies that will deliver broadband speeds of 12 megabits per seconds.

The project will directly support up to 25,000 local jobs on average every year during the eight year construction period and work is expected to begin in July, in Tasmania. Comment on the plans and the likely outcome has been made by The Sydney Morning Herald.

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