Nextgen finishes $250m backhaul roll-out

Nextgen finishes $250m backhaul roll-out

Summary: Nextgen Networks announced today that it has finished work on the last part of the Federal Government's $250 million Regional Backbone Blackspots Program, completing the Darwin, Emerald and Longreach fibre link.

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Nextgen Networks announced today that it has finished work on the last part of the Federal Government's $250 million Regional Backbone Blackspots Program, completing the Darwin, Emerald and Longreach fibre link.

The yellow line shows the regional blackspots backhaul.
(Credit: Nextgen Networks)

The $250 million project was awarded to Nextgen Networks and network builder Visionstream, both of which are wholly owned subsidiaries of Leighton Holdings. The project kicked off in February 2010, and involved the roll-out of fibre-optic backhaul through rural areas between Darwin and Brisbane, Perth and Geraldton, Broken Hill and Victor Harbor in South Australia, and Gippsland in Victoria.

It was intended to remove broadband backbone blackspots across regional Australia, which had been recognised as a bottleneck in the provision of competitive broadband services.

The new Darwin to Longreach link, delivered on budget and only slightly delayed, was the last in a series of fibre backhaul roll-outs spanning over 6000km and touching 600,000 people. Nextgen will provide access to the fibre on a wholesale basis so that retail carriers, such as Internode or iiNet, can service customers in remote areas. Other businesses, such as utilities and broadcasters, will also be able to use the links.

"Today, we welcome communities in Queensland and the Northern Territory to a brighter broadband future. They connect with other parts of the network already enjoying the benefits of this initiative in Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia," NextGen Networks managing director Phil Sykes said in a statement.

Access points on the new Darwin fibre highway service an area of 163,000 residents and services population centres such as Darwin, Mount Isa, Casuarina, Toowoomba, Katherine and Gunnewin.

"Households and businesses in these towns and cities are acutely aware what it means to be deprived of competitive telecommunications infrastructure. Investment in this fibre is underwriting more competitive services and greater choice," Sykes said.

Existing regional backhauls include one linking South Australia's Gawler to NSW's Broken Hill and Victoria's Shepparton, another from Perth to Geraldton in Western Australia, one from South Australia's McLaren Vale to Victor Harbor and Mt Barker, and the backhaul through South West Gippsland in Victoria.

Treasurer Wayne Swan opened the link today at Darwin's Parliament House.

Topics: Broadband, Government, Government AU, NBN

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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