Kranenburg: Spend broadband funds wisely

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Kranenburg: Spend broadband funds wisely

The government's call for "expressions of interest" on where it should spend $878 million on its Broadband Connect program could have negative outcomes if funds are spent on non-viable projects, according to Service Providers Association chairman John Kranenburg.

The government's call for "expressions of interest" on where it should spend $878 million on its Broadband Connect program could have negative outcomes if funds are spent on non-viable projects, according to Service Providers Association chairman John Kranenburg.

IT minister Senator Helen Coonan has announced an alternative funding approach that would see the allocation of funds to a small number of large scale infrastructure projects through a competitive grants process.

Under the expressions of interest (EOI) process, interested parties are being asked to put forward ideas, plans and possible project proposals to help inform the final design of funding.

However, Kranenburg said although seeking expressions of interest from the industry was a good idea, the government needed to appoint a panel of experts to verify the projects put forward.

"The thing that concerns me is the federal government allocating funds to projects which are non-viable and fall over, he said.

Kranenburg claimed the government must get the appropriate support to ensure the money was spent on the right projects.

Still, he said it was a sensible way to garner information on how to spend a lot of money. "It also gives a clearer scope on undertaking big ideas,” he said.

“The current stage of the EOI is about generating ideas for the government. It’s the next step after the EOI, when it starts requesting for tender that is interesting,” said Kranenburg.

The EOI also puts forward likely assessment criterias that would apply under an alternative funding approach, with commercial viability and future scalability to higher speed services to be major considerations, Coonan said.

Broadband Connect is a program that would see the government rollout broadband infrastructure to regional Australia.

The request for EOI is available at www.dcita.gov.au/tel/broadband_connect.
The closing date for responses to the EOI is 5.00pm AEST Friday 14 July 2006.
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