Millions of Aussie farmers to get 12Mbit/s broadband

, posted: 18-Jun-2007 13:16

What a difference. While New Zealand quibbles about broadband regulation and most Kiwis are lucky to get 2-5Mbit/s DSL, the Australians are putting their money where their mouths are. Communications Day just broke that the joint venture between Optus and Elders has been awarded the contract to build a A$958 million rural network under the Broadband Connect/Australia Connected initiative.

The network will cover 3.7 million premises, and use a mix of optical fibre, ADSL2+ and WiMAX wireless. The promise is that by mid-2009, 99 per cent of Australians will have 12Mbit/s minimum speeds for their Internet connections. In comparison, New Zealand will only have started local loop unbundling by then, provided everything goes according to the (slow) plan.

CommsDay writes:
The boost in Broadband Connect funding from $600m to $958m is pitched as the enabler to extend broadband coverage to 99 per cent of the population. The Optus Elders venture will immediately begin installation of ADSL2+ connectivity in a further 426 exchanges, covering 3m premises - about 312 directly enabled by the funding. WiMax will be deployed for remaining areas at 1361 sites. First services are expected in September. Opel will offer services on a wholesale basis as well as through its network of 400 retail outlets in rural Australia.

* The Opel proposal calls for 15,000 km of fibre optic backhaul with backhaul prices expected to fall thirty per cent. It will upgrade 1023 transmission spurs and 461 new microwave transmission spurs.

* A $2750 per customer subsidy will be provided to facilitate broadband for the remaining one per cent - or 200,000 people.

There's more to come in Australia for broadband, like the fibre to the node tender for urban areas. Here, nothing of consequence has happened in the broadband area since 2003 - NZ is still on the first generation DSL, "unleashed" as it is now (meaning it's unrestricted as it was when Telecom first rolled it out). Yes, some customers in Wellington and Christchurch on TelstraClear's cable network look set to get 25Mbit/s by the end of the year. That network doesn't however extend very far, and I'm not sure if TCL will have enough national and international capacity to deliver the high speeds as advertised - here's hoping it will.

I know we're a "wait and see... she'll be all right" nation, but isn't it time to step on the broadband accelerator soon, and not wait until 2010 when we won't be able to catch up with the rest of the world?

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