Page Impressions Ltd Blogcetera: Australia shows how to create a 21st Century Network

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Australia shows how to create a 21st Century Network

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has created a public private partnership to sort out the country's poor broadband network.

The programme aims to link 90 per cent of Aussie homes, schools and businesses with speeds of up to 100 Mbps - true FTTH. The remaining ten per cent of premises will get wireless or satellite links with speeds of up to 12 Mbps

The government is establishing a company to build the fibre network which it expects to cost $43bn (£20.8bn) and take eight years to complete. It will provide jobs for 25,000 people a year on average.

The government will be the majority shareholder, but intends to sell its stake within five years of the network being completed. The cash will come from the sale of consumer Aussie Investment Bonds (AIBs) and funds from the Building Australia Fund.

Rudd said slow broadband was holding Australia back. He compared a decent fibre network with the railway networks of the 19th century.

He reckons the project is Australia's largest ever "nation-building infrastructure project". Rudd had asked for private sector bids for the work but none were considered viable.

The first step will be negotiating with Tasmania which could start its fibre to the premises network as early as July. New builds will be required to provide fibre from July 2010.

Alongside this huge investment Rudd promised wholesale telecoms reform - the public has until 3 June to make its suggestions for changes.

Australia has always suffered from slow and expensive broadband for years.  Some of this can be blamed on geography, although the incumbent telco, Telstra, is also culpable..

However, if Gordon Brown is serious about providing Britain with a 21st Century infrastructure he should start talking to Rudd.  Guaranteeing that everyone will have access to 1.5Mbps is just pathetic and we will continue to languish in the bottom division of broadband access.   In a previous article I referred to the developments of Fibrecity projects by i3 Group Ltd.  These guys deserve massive support to roll out the planned 15 locations as quickly as possible.

We need to join the Ethernet club now and get full FTTH to every home in the country and stop relying on the whining of BT experimenting with some 40Mbps service options.  It just will not do.  The UK needs an integrated national fibre infrastructure not some half baked commitment to ADSL access and the cost  of full FTTH would far less than saving a single fat cat bank, have lasting value and create thousands of jobs.

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