Telstra proposes A$600m broadband plan

Australia’s Telstra Ltd. has pitched a national ADSL scheme to bring high-speed Internet to thousands of remote communities. The plan is in response to the Howard Government’s Broadband Connect program.

Telstra is seeking A$600 million to upgrade the telephony infrastructure to bring broadband to 250,000 homes in locations including Birdsville, Groote Eylandt, Marble Bar and the Tiwi Islands. Users will be offered connection speeds of up to 8Mbps. The telecom company claims it is the largest fixed broadband deployment in Australia’s history.

Broadband Connect is an A$878 million initiative from the larger A$1.1 billion Connect Australia scheme. It is designed to provide an incentive for ISPs to supply high bandwidth services to regional areas of Australia at prices not dissimilar to the city.

A Telstra spokesperson said Australian Communications Minister Helen Coonan was expected to make an announcement of whether it, or a competitor, had received the funding by the end of the financial year.

If funding was forthcoming, the spokesperson said that the majority of upgrades would be completed in 2008, with some being finished up into 2009.

Group managing director of its Country Wide business, Geoff Booth, said in a statement that other proposals made to the government would either seek to duplicate infrastructure it had already provided or resort to technology that was currently unproven in a rural environment.

“Our commitment to the telecommunication needs of our rural, regional and remote customers remains at the forefront of everything we do and this has directed the content of our proposal,” he said.

Telstra estimates its plan would see 95 percent of the population covered by fixed broadband. The figure currently sits at 91 percent.

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