12Mbps wireless broadband for rural Oz: govt

12Mbps wireless broadband for rural Oz: govt

Summary: The federal government has revealed details of the government's AU$1 billion plan to bring high-speed broadband to 99 percent of the population by 2009.Communications minister Helen Coonan has confirmed the government will now invest an additional AU$358 million, on top of the AU$600 million (the original Broadband Connect money) already allocated, to improving Australia's broadband coverage in rural areas and suburban blackspots using a new next generation WiMax network.

SHARE:

The federal government has revealed details of the government's AU$1 billion plan to bring high-speed broadband to 99 percent of the population by 2009.

Communications minister Helen Coonan has confirmed the government will now invest an additional AU$358 million, on top of the AU$600 million (the original Broadband Connect money) already allocated, to improving Australia's broadband coverage in rural areas and suburban blackspots using a new next generation WiMax network.

OPEL, a joint venture between Optus and Elders, has been selected as the successful bidder for the network and has promised to invest its own funds of AU$917 million as well as the almost AU$1 billion in government money in its construction.

It's hoped that the latest phase of the Broadband Connect scheme will help lessen the digital divide between the big cities and the bush. The government said that network will reach nine million new premises including homes in Birdsville, Bedourie and Windorah and "eliminate almost all broadband blackspots in areas such as outer metropolitan Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane". At least 700,000 premises which will be covered by the network previously had no broadband connectivity at all, according to OPEL's estimations.

Australians will be able to expect speeds of up to 12Mbps for a price of between AU$35 and AU$60 per month from the network -- what the government terms "metropolitan comparable" prices. The network will start offering its first services from this September, with the rollout scheduled for completion by the end of June 2009.

The scheme will utilise WiMax to generate the much-needed speed increase, opening 1361 new WiMax sites. A number of exchanges will also be enabled for ADSL2+ for the first time.

OPEL will act as the wholesale provider for the network, reselling services to owners Optus and Elders, as well as rival telcos.

Prime Minister John Howard announced the scheme in his weekly radio address last night, saying a faster broadband network "is a key business, education and community driver. It opens up new opportunities in households, workplaces, small businesses, libraries, schools and universities."

Howard also used the address to criticise Labor's plan for broadband, calling it a "cobbled-together" and "reckless" proposal.

Topics: Broadband, Government, Government AU, Networking, Telcos, Optus, NBN, Wi-Fi

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

9 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • An additional $358 million?

    Is this the same government that said a few weeks ago that you could leave broadband funding up to the private sector?
    anonymous
  • Helen Coonan?

    Just saw Senator Helen Coonan's interview on Lateline Business - it looked like she didn't know as much about the network and its technologies as the interviewer did.

    It seems like this government views the broadband network in Australia as just a 'cost of being re-elected'.
    anonymous
  • Helen Coonan?

    Also appeared on the 7:30 Report - embarrassing, an obvious distortion of the truth - if she/the govt tried this in the commercial world she would be jailed. If a CEO pushed this wagon he would be jailed for fraud - why the two standards?
    If she "did not know" then bring along someone who does, or better still find out.
    anonymous
  • I do believe you're mistaken

    I might be wrong, but I believe they've always planned to fund it (which is why Telstra has been carrying on: They dared to allow competition for the tender!).
    What they have said is that they won't raid the Future Fund for it. Labor has said it will raid the Future Fund.
    I might be wrong, but I don't think I am.
    anonymous
  • Race to Mount Everest

    Mr Howard and his government, for that matter all politicians are trying to upstage one another. They seem more like treasure hunters using fire flies as a ray of light.

    The Australian geo status for communications is over 30 years old. Copper to the home is intended to be replaced by fibre to the home. Developing countries have already commenced to do so with far reaching results. Fibre can carry up to and in excess of 10 Gigabits to the home. Why may you ask. Educational Forecasts are that we meet business needs of industry and the household.
    Education - Intentions are remote classrooms fully interactive (Educational covers all aspects from Adult to primary and also Industrial training, Research).
    Business - Banking, Commerce and related industry - fully interactive.
    Entertainment - Internet, Movies, live Television, games and live feeds
    Security - Vast possibilities and debatable implications on intrusion of privacy.

    In order to comply with the above, Fibre to the premises is imperative. Due to technological change with solutions and results, equipment compatibility will always be subject to change, challenge and modification. Infrastructure has always been subject to discussion from a revenue and demand perspective.

    The world is drifting away from exchanges of old. The system now identifies, or intended to identify each number as a IP address. The CISCO servers can be housed in a location in localities with less latency (time delay to the point of reception/transmission) and requirements of exchanges is being outdated. To achieve this complex but simple solution one has to technologically advance the systems.

    The bush. The bush is covered by the Next G network, the Two way satellite system and copper to the home. In my opinionand as reflected by the product reputation of the Consortium of Optus and Elders seems to sit on the precipice of failure. Educationalist and Researchers across the globe will advise that this product has more limitations than a mini skirt with a helm - revelations only when it is worn.
    I suspect this 12 mb announcement has a shadow or purpose and or both of desperation of the executive to get out of a hard place.

    Confusion and Misinterpretation is being bandied around by Scribes and Poloiticians.
    The business men are going to make a fortune. If Howard wins better buy shares in Singtel-Optus.

    Best Regards
    anonymous
  • Also interesting...

    I didn't read the above comment fully. I tried, twice, but both times woke up 3 hours later. I just can't risk falling asleep again...
    To summarise, John Howard is a politician, and it's a crime to award a tender to a company that might make money out of it, especially Optus.
    Dare I ask: What is KR's plan? Broadband for everyone, I know.
    He also promises blue sky that rains.
    And would Telstra cure what ails ya?
    And in reference to other countries that are "way ahead of us", could we all remember that Australia is somewhat unique in that even in our suburbs we are quite sprawled?
    South Korea is well connected mostly because everyone lives within 30 feet of each other.
    Estonia is well connected because it is a country that consists of 38 people spread over a football field.
    anonymous
  • I do believe you're mistaken, Ben!

    The Libs never intended to do anything about it. Helen Coonan has been pushing for it but Howard, the "MAN" has always been against it. Basically he doesn't get the significance of Internet because he is so "OLD". Their decision only ever came about after the tide of opinion directly showed how the people wanted a better broadband option & Labor offered it.

    Then & only then did the Libs realise they were wrong. I doubt if Howard gets it yet.
    anonymous
  • "Race to Mount Everest"

    "The bush. The bush is covered by the Next G network, the Two way satellite system and copper to the home"
    You opinion, Anony Mouse is duly acknowledged. Your point is without any real end. I agree with "Fallin asleep". Technically, Telstra's broadband option is creating a 3rd world entity. I don't like Howard one bit but I'm grateful the Libs awarded Optus & G9 the ticket to fix Telstra's screw-up. You think they'll fail. Have you considered the consequences to a company like Germany's Telekom. This company makes Telstra look like a fly in ointment. They're not going in to fail & Optus has a lot of support behind them as well.

    I think you'll find they will actually succeed & if Telstra get to court & fight their battle over the Gov't letting Optus in we can only hope that they fail because so far they have done nothing to help Australia move forward.
    anonymous
  • K-K-K-Howard

    Instead of having any understanding of what he's talking about our deleriously funny PM has now taken it upon himself to talk about a subject that he is unable to piece together in any fashion at all. It's like Houdini talking expertly about growing hemp because he used ropes once upon a time. Howard is a tool. The fact that he let fly on Labor after Labor made an announcement was more to do with the fact that he had no plan whatsoever. When his cabinet, not the metal one rather the other idiots in the drawing room, let him know that the public were backing Mr Rudd's idea, to pull us out of 3rd-world charm & Telstra-entrenched chaos, they suddenly evolved a new plan.

    Good on K-K-K-Howard for finally noticing but it's a bit like the war on Aboriginal societal degradation that he has out-of-nowhere decided to instill his ideals. It never was on his plan & I'm sure his social bias will always reign supreme along side his neglect of the commoner.

    Farking creep!
    anonymous