Sept start for NBN regional backhaul?

Sept start for NBN regional backhaul?

Summary: Part of the government's National Broadband Network plan, the $250 million injection to create new backhaul links in regional areas, could start construction by September this year.

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Construction on the $250 million regional backhaul part of the Federal Government's National Broadband Network plan could start by September this year, according to government documents released this afternoon.

(Fiber installation image by
macguys, CC2.0)

Backhaul refers to backbone telecommunications links that connect metropolitan areas together.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said today the investment would be "fast tracked" and has released a stakeholder consultation paper to find out information such as which regional centres should be addressed with the funding, the technical parameters of rolling out the backhaul links as well as arrangements for funding, the delivery of services and the ownership of the links.

Within the paper, there is an "indicative" timetable which has the consultation period ending in May, followed by a request for tender. The responses for the tender would be due in June, and the tenders would be evaluated by July, with work to begin in September.

"We want to work closely with all stakeholders and move quickly to make these investments," Conroy said in a statement. The roll-out will target areas where there is limited competition because there is only a single provider (usually Telsra) of the backhaul service.

The ACCC has confirmed that areas with only one provider of backhaul services include Geraldton in Western Australia, Mt Gambier in South Australia, Broken Hill in New South Wales, Mildura in Victoria, Mt Isa in Queensland, and Darwin in the Northern Territory.

The Western Australian Government has already said that it considers the link between Perth and Geraldton to be of great importance to the state, particularly as such a link would increase its chances of being the host of the radio astronomy development square kilometre array.

The speedy influx of funds into broadband would act as a stimulus, according to Conroy. "High-speed broadband will revitalise our regions, provide new job opportunities, drive efficiency and improve the delivery of social services," he said.

The new backhaul could also mean further DSLAM (ADSL equipment) investment in telephone exchanges, with iiNet managing director Michael Malone having said recently that his company would look to putting DSLAMs in regional centres if the backhaul was made available.

Submission papers are due 12 May 2009, after which the tender process will commence.

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Government AU

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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2 comments
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  • Rudd and Conroy are HUGE HUGE fools

    Sounds like the negotiations to corner Telstra into joining the NBNco are'nt going to well.

    Is it any wonder, I cant see how Telstra could actively support a company that would compete against Telstra! I

    Oh well so we now commence to pay to duplicate infrastructure that does nothing for the actual bandwidth to be delivered to the end user.

    And lets not mention that the exchanges in question have always had plenty of capacity for DSLAM's to be installed! Its just nobody but Telstra bothered to put in one, as it was much more lucrative to concentrate on the cities.

    And while this may reduce backhaul costs for Telstra competitors, they are still talking about using DSL, ie copper, not fibre for the last mile!

    And as Telstra will continue to compete without the burden to cover new costs I am very interested to see who believes they will make a commercial return on the money they put into this venture vehicle together with the govt's $250 mill.

    And as the govt seems to be calling for responses to telco projects a few hundred million dollars at a time. Including suggestions as to the ownership structure for each project. That seems to suggest this idea of a single NBNco entity worth $43 B. Spending $43 B. may have 1 or 2 or 2000 issues !

    p.s. Stay away from Telstra share's the govt is hell bent on destroying the company for a misguided goal and without any concern for whats fair to Telstra shareholders or even whats economically viable for the country. And certainly no concern for whats of interest or need to the tax payers.
    anonymous
  • Let's Us Not Be Bias

    The important issue with broadband development is not to be bias. As everyone knows, it is only through market competition that citizens in WA can enjoy lower broadband prices. The initiative by the Federal Government is excellent, however, it is a mammoth task and I am a bit pessimistic if NBN will ever get delivered. I believe that the project will be abandoned half-way if a new government takes over, or when the current government couldn't find the funds.
    anonymous