Conroy shortlists next 20 NBN sites

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Conroy shortlists next 20 NBN sites

UPDATE: Western Australia to get a look-in?

The Federal Government has selected the next 20 sites across Australia to receive high-speed broadband as part of the $43 billion national broadband network rollout.

The location of the sites will be revealed by the end of the week, according to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy. [UPDATE 08/07/2010 - The sites have been announced.]

Conroy told iTnews today that NBN Co engineers would dictate which areas are connected next. 

"The engineers rule my life on this," he said. "And I have a matrix of issues that they use to determine where we go.

"I'll get in trouble for the next story, but when they came to me with the first five [mainland NBN sites], there wasn't one in Western Australia. And I said to them - guys, you do know that the N in NBN stands for National. Last time I checked Western Australia was part of the nation."

The Minister said pre-requisites from an engineering perspective included "whether or not [NBN Co] can get easy access to the local council infrastructure, if a council has got existing duct space."

It would also be determined as to whether a council is willing to allow overhead cables in their streets. 

NBN Co would warm to councils that say "look, we don't mind whether it's overhead or underground, we're happy to have you."

"I'd love to tell you I have some significant influence on that but the truth is I don't," Conroy said.

The announcement comes as NBN Co prepares to start construction work at five mainland test sites announced back in March.

It caps a recent flurry of NBN-related announcements that appears to coincide with rising speculation about a looming Federal election.

Last week, NBN Co and Conroy announced the Victorian capital would host the multi-million dollar NBN network operations centre.

Internet service providers also revealed they had connected their first customers to the NBN in Tasmania.

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