Western Australia looks to broadband funding

The Western Australian government is fielding strong interest from local parties after it asked for proposals to attract funding from the federal government's AU$1.1 billion Connect Australia broadband package.

The Western Australian government is fielding strong interest from local parties after it asked for proposals to attract funding from the federal government's AU$1.1 billion Connect Australia broadband package.

The state's 2 April request for proposals came after federal communications minister Senator Helen Coonan said on 8 March she was considering setting aside a large part of Connect Australia to fund regional broadband infrastructure.

Coonan has subsequently confirmed that idea is likely to go ahead and asked for consortiums of telcos to put forward proposals on how the funding would be spent.

The deputy director general of Western Australia's Department of Industry and Resources, Stephen Grocott, told ZDNet Australia his department "has been very pleased with industry response to its request."

Eighty-two people attended information sessions held last week by the department, Grocott said in a statement e-mailed late yesterday.

"With a further 38 that were unable to attend and who have been briefed by e-mail and through the Web site specifically established for this purpose," he added.

Grocott also welcomed Coonan's announcement this week that she was developing a broad-ranging plan to coordinate public and private investment in next-generation broadband infrastructure.

The plan will contain "clearly delineated roles for state, territory and local governments," said Coonan at the time.

"The department welcomes the opportunity to continue to work with the Commonwealth government and other jurisdictions on long-term strategies to meet the needs of Australia," said Grocott.

The state is expected to have assessed proposals by the end of this month, and will start working with successful parties on putting forward ideas to Coonan's office after that point.

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