The Federal Government’s NBN plans for the bush are getting a kick start with an initial $250 million investment for backbone fibre optic transmission links announced by the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy.
A stakeholder consultation process has been set up to identify and prioritise regional locations for the investment. As part of this process the Minister is also seeking comment on the technical parameters, arrangements for funding, the delivery of services and the ownership of the infrastructure. Submissions are due by May 12 and a competitive tender process will continue shortly after.
In a statement, Conroy said the move was intended to improve competition as some regional areas had limited options with only a single provider of services.
"This $250 million investment demonstrates how serious we are about immediate improvement for services in regional and rural Australia and will contribute to the immediate stimulus impact of the National Broadband Network," he said in the statement.
Conroy also pointed to a recent paper by the ACCC, which confirmed places such as Geraldton, Mt Gambier, Broken Hill, Mildura, Mt Isa, and Darwin had only a single provider of backhaul services.
The most recent development comes after two weeks of intense debate between the ruling Labor party and the opposition over the Government’s plan to go it alone with the NBN, spending $43 billion and forming its own public/private company to oversee the investment.