Internet service provider Internode has halted its regional broadband rollout due to the "unexpected end" of the federal government's Broadband Connect Program.
Last week the Communications Minister, Senator Helen Coonan, announced the AU$162.50 million Australian Broadband Guarantee to ensure universal broadband for all Australians. The initiative replaces government's Broadband Connect Incentive Program, which was scheduled to run until 30 June, 2007.
Internode had been using the government assistance to build broadband infrastructure in rural areas of South Australia. With the premature demise of Broadband Connect, Internode has now suspended all new installations of broadband services for which rebates previously applied.
The ISP's managing director Simon Hackett said the action was regrettable. "It has been forced upon us by the unexpected and premature end of the DCITA Broadband Connect subsidy program," he said in a statement issued this morning.
As a result of the demise of the program Internode:
- will install no new wireless DSL services
- will provide ADSL services only at list prices
- has halted all physical work on network construction in Broadband Connect areas
- has withdrawn its entry-level AU$29.95 broadband plan
However, Internode has not ruled out providing broadband services at a later date. "A newly-announced program [Australian Broadband Guarantee] may allow us to re-commence new service installations in the future," Hackett said.
But DCITA must address "substantial apparent flaws" in the scheme before it re-starts delivering services, according to Hackett.
Last week, Coonan said the Broadband Guarantee program would be up and running by April, with program guidelines for ISPs to be released at the end of March. "There will a fast track registration process for registered Broadband Connect and Metro Broadband Connect providers," she said.