Almost 100 per cent of Australians to receive broadband

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Almost 100 per cent of Australians to receive broadband

SYDNEY - The Government will provide almost $1 billion of funding to build the infrastructure for 99 per cent of Australian’s to receive high speed broadband internet, according to minister for communications, information technology and the arts, Senator Helen Coonan.

“Fast affordable broadband access will become a reality for all Australians under a landmark funding and legislative initiative announced by the Australian Government called Australia Connected,” Coonan said in a statement to the press today.

“Australia Connected demonstrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring fast affordable broadband services for all Australians, regardless of where they live.”

“This is not only world class - to reach almost 100 per cent coverage at such high speeds for a country of our size and population spread, and to deliver service to the country at metro-comparable prices - it is a world first.”

“Australia Connected will provide 12 megabit per second broadband services to quite literally thousands of rural and regional communities including icon townships such as Birdsville, Bedourie and Windorah and builds on the Government’s success to date that has seen more than 4.3 million homes and small businesses connected to broadband across Australia,” she said.

The new network will be built by OPEL, a joint-venture between Optus and Elders. The consortium has been awarded $958 million of funding from the government, with a possible $1 billion in reserves, according to telecommunications analyst, Paul Budde.

OPEL is also providing $900 million of its own funds for the project.

"This new high speed wholesale broadband network is fully priced and will be built immediately,” Coonan said.

“It is an outstanding outcome as the OPEL bid deploys innovative new fixed wireless technologies alongside well-known services such as ADSL2+.

“Australia Connected is not a future plan but a plan for the future and rollout of the new network will start immediately.

OPEL will use a new 12 megabit per second wireless (WiMAX) technology ensuring that regional Australia gets “a network that will be world’s best practice,” according to the government.

“In addition to WiMAX, a further 426 exchanges, representing more than three million premises, will be enabled with very fast ADSL2+ broadband for the first time. The switch on of the 426 exchanges to ADSL2+ will commence immediately across 426 outer metropolitan, regional and rural areas,” Coonan said.

Under the new plan, thousands of rural and regional consumers will have access to broadband internet facilities by mid-2009.

“Beyond 2009, this new scaleable national network will have the capacity to provide vastly increased speeds as Australia’s demand for bandwidth grows, with funding already assured from the ongoing income stream provided by the Government’s $2 billion Communications Fund,” said Coonan.

“This ongoing income stream is a critical ‘insurance policy’ for regional and rural Australians to ensure they are not left behind as telecommunications technology blasts into the Twenty-First Century.”

The government has also announced a proposal for a commercial fibre-to-the-node broadband infrastructure, which has gained competition in the form of Telstra’s rival proposition for its own fibre-to-the-node plan.

“With two commercial proposals already on the table to build an optic fibre network, there will be no delay in getting this underway so we can have an outcome as soon as possible. Once deployed, speeds will jump even higher to between 20–50 megabits per second under a new fibre network,” said Coonan.

A website,, will be launched on 1 July to provide information to new users about how to access broadband, which broadband options are available in which areas, what the technologies mean for each area, and the eligibility for government assistance programs such as the Australian Broadband Guarantee which includes a $2,750 entitlement to houses which are too remote to be covered by the new broadband infrastructure.
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