Vic school fibre network to go to NBN?

Summary:Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon has said he is happy to talk to the National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) about sharing the state's school fibre network as it continues to roll-out the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon has said he is happy to talk to the National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) about sharing the state's school fibre network as it continues to roll-out the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Martin Dixon

Victorian Education Minister, Martin Dixon (Credit: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)

At a press conference opening Victoria's latest connected classroom, Dixon said that he was happy to talk to NBN Co about leasing the VicSmart fibre backbone, designed to connect schools to high-speed broadband.

"If we've got an asset like a fibre-optic service right out to all of our schools and it's got the capacity for the use of the community … why not share?" the minister said.

Despite his willingness to share the VicSmart fibre with NBN Co, the minister expressed his doubts over the NBN itself.

"From an education point of view, we need to be able to give schools the best opportunity to be connected to the broader world, to be connected to each other [but] I don't know enough about the NBN to know [if that's the right option]," he added.

NBN Co welcomed the minister's statements, saying that it's always looking for ways to roll out the network faster and cheaper.

"We'll pretty much talk to anybody who has some assets and some investment in assets that we can take advantage of," Jim Hassell, head of product development and sales for NBN Co, told ZDNet Australia today.

"As a general principle if there's something there which we can use that will make it faster or cheaper or both to roll the [NBN] out and it makes sense then definitely we will do it," Hassell added, saying that NBN Co is currently conducting many similar conversations with other network operators.

Not all fibre networks are within NBN Co's sights, however, with high-speed research networks like Australia's Academic and Research Network (AARNet) to be left alone.

"AARNet is a bit different, however. What they're doing is linking up institutions and they've got some very fast links there like 10Gbps, so we would see AARNet as a complementary to the NBN as opposed to something that we would think of taking over," Hassell said.

Hassell also spoke in a ZDNet Australia panel at Salesforce.com's Cloudforce event on productivity in the cloud. See the video here.

Topics: Government, Broadband, Government : AU, NBN

About

A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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