The Federal Government's $250 million Regional Backbone Blackspots Program, first begun in 2009, is completed this week after more than 22 months fibre planning and construction. More than a million man hours, 1000 workers and 15 plowing crews went into the effort.
The 6000-kilometre backhaul network linked five major regional and rural areas previously hampered by lack of competitive broadband including Geraldton, Darwin, Broken Hill, Victor Harbor and Southwest Gippsland in Victoria.
Senator Stephen Conroy is joined by Senator Louise Pratt (Labour, WA) plugging in an optical fibre on the Perth to Geraldton network.
The longest link of the national network, between Darwin and Toowoomba in Queensland, was delayed by three months as heavy rain hampered construction efforts.
A Nextgen worker tests the cable.
Independent MP Bob Katter, communications minister Stephen Conroy and Leighton Telecommunications managing director Peter McGrath cut the ribbon on one stretch of the cable construction.
Digging the trench.
The 6000-kilometre network included major physically redundant paths along several sections, multiplying the amount of physical cable needed in the network.
Inside the Nextgen network operations centre in Melbourne.
Nextgen has bought millions of dollars of Alcatel-Lucent kit as part of its $250 million backhaul network.
Nextgen trialled 100Gbps dense wavelength division multiplexing in technology, providing ten-fold bandwidth on that currently available over the network.
100 kilometres of fibre was used in Nextgen's trial.
Nextgen networks managing director Phil Sykes and Senator Stephen Conroy watch on from the sidelines of the launch event in Geraldton, Western Australia.
Nextgen's Phil Sykes launches the first part of the RBBP link in Geraldton in March.
Officials including Senator Conroy head to the Controlled Environment Vault (CEV) hub for the Perth to Geraldton link.
The CEV is located next to the Geraldton Universities Centre. It's one of more than 35 deployed nationwide to house networking kit supporting the fibre links.
Nextgen/Visionstream construction team members - Shane Mason – Foreman (left) and Steve Alexander - Project Manager.