Work on the first mainland piece of the National Broadband Network(NBN) started today as digging began on its first stretch of fibre optics in Mt Isa, Queensland.
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, visited the site in North West Queensland and said it would help foster fast broadband across the state into the Northern Territory.
“Once complete, this link will allow other broadband providers to enter the market and offer faster broadband speeds, cheaper prices and more choice for people and businesses across the region,” he said in a statement.
“Construction of the Darwin, Mt Isa, Emerald and Longreach links will take around 18 months and once complete, will directly benefit more than 160,000 people in over 40 regional locations.”
The laying of fibre optic cabling is being done as part of the $250 million Regional Backbone Blackspots program. The work is being coordinated by networking integrator, Nextgen, with sister-company, Visionstream, performing construction services. Both companies are fully-owned subsidiaries of construction giant, Leighton Group.
The program is expected to install 6000km of fibre optic backbone, connecting 395,000 people across more than 100 locations.
According to the Minister’s office, Nextgen expects the deal to create more than 1000 full-time jobs while $5m in funding would go to Rural NBN coordinators.