Rio Tinto Alcan, the Northern Territory government and
Telstra have decided to "broadband" Arnhem Land in the northern
territory, laying 800km of fibre-optic cable.
The project, worth $34 million, will link Jabiru and Nhulunbuy,
connecting 10,000 people in indigenous communities and the township
of Nhulunbuy to the country's fibre-optic backbone. Rio Tinto owns a bauxite mine and alumina refinery at Nhulunbuy care of its recent purchase of Alcan.
Northern Territory chief minster Paul Henderson said the
Northern Territory Government had committed $6.8 million in funding
for the project, which he said was already underway.
"People living [in] communities like Oenpelli, Maningrida, Nhulunbuy
and Gapuwiyak may be off the beaten track but they will now be part
of the communications superhighway," Henderson said.
He said it would allow those in the region to do online
banking, video conferencing and booking, and would bring benefits
for health and education.
"And more basically, it will help attract more professionals
and other workers to remote communities as they will be able to
communicate with the world in the same way as people in larger
centres take for granted," he said.
Telstra group managing director public policy and
communications, David Quilty, said the project couldn't have been
achieved without money from the Territory Government
and Rio Tinto Alcan.
"It's a huge project and one that covers some extremely
difficult and fragile terrain. Telstra has been working closely
with the NT Government, the Northern Land Council and other
relevant authorities to ensure the impact of the fibre deployment
on the surrounding area is minimised," Quilty said.