[it wire] The federal Regional Backbone Blackspots Program had reached its halfway point, with 3,000 kilometres of optical fibre already laid, and is on target for completion in the second half of next year, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said.
The $250 million program would ultimately provide backhaul links targeting six priority regional locations in Broken Hill, Darwin, Emerald and Longreach, Geralton, South West Gippsland and Victor Harbor.
"Fibre optic backbone links are the first building blocks of the National Broadband Network," Senator Conroy said.
"The lack of competitive backbone infrastructure is one of the biggest obstacles for fast affordable broadband in regional areas.
"Once this Program is complete, other broadband providers will be able to enter the market and offer faster broadband speeds, cheaper prices and more choice for people and businesses across regional Australia."
"In total the initiative will connect around 100 regional locations and benefit about 400,000 people across six states and territories."
Senator Conroy said the Program was creating around 1,000 full time jobs and that Nextgen Networks, the company contacted to roll-out the backbone fibre, had already procured over $30 million in materials such as equipment shelters and optical cable.
Nextgen managing director Phil Sykes said: “We commenced network construction activities on February 4, 2010, as a sign of confidence with the contract negotiation process which was not scheduled to be complete until March 2010."
"We continue to look forward to further extending backhaul reach to deliver an exciting and affordable broadband future to both urban and rural communities throughout Australia," Mr Sykes said.
Backhaul blackspots program on target: Conroy