Arnhem Land gets $34m fibre roll-out

Rio Tinto Alcan, the Northern Territory government and Telstra have decided to "broadband" Arnhem Land in the northernterritory, laying 800km of fibre-optic cable.

Rio Tinto Alcan, the Northern Territory government and Telstra have decided to "broadband" Arnhem Land in the northern territory, laying 800km of fibre-optic cable.

(DSC_10231 image by ciamabue, CC2.0)

The project, worth $34 million, will link Jabiru and Nhulunbuy, connecting 10,000 people in indigenous communities and the township of Nhulunbuy to the country's fibre-optic backbone. Rio Tinto owns a bauxite mine and alumina refinery at Nhulunbuy care of its recent purchase of Alcan.

Northern Territory chief minster Paul Henderson said the Northern Territory Government had committed $6.8 million in funding for the project, which he said was already underway.

"People living [in] communities like Oenpelli, Maningrida, Nhulunbuy and Gapuwiyak may be off the beaten track but they will now be part of the communications superhighway," Henderson said.

He said it would allow those in the region to do online banking, video conferencing and booking, and would bring benefits for health and education.

"And more basically, it will help attract more professionals and other workers to remote communities as they will be able to communicate with the world in the same way as people in larger centres take for granted," he said.

Telstra group managing director public policy and communications, David Quilty, said the project couldn't have been achieved without money from the Territory Government and Rio Tinto Alcan.

"It's a huge project and one that covers some extremely difficult and fragile terrain. Telstra has been working closely with the NT Government, the Northern Land Council and other relevant authorities to ensure the impact of the fibre deployment on the surrounding area is minimised," Quilty said.

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