Nextgen Networks announced it reached the halfway point of its rollout of the National Broadband Network’s Regional Backbone Blackspot Program in an event in Melbourne.
Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, said the $250 million program was on track to be completed in the second half of 2011 with services on the shorter routes to be turned on by the first half of 2011.
Over 3000km of fibre optic cabling has been laid out of the 6000km needed to complete the project.
“I’d like to congratulate Nextgen Networks on achieving this milestone and I look forward to the completion of the Program next year,” he said in a statement. “Fibre optic backbone links are the first building blocks of the National Broadband Network.
“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.”
According to Nextgen managing director, Phil Sykes, more than 1000 workers had been employed during the rollout. Nextgen Network was appointed in December 2009, and its sister-company, Visionstream, to help in February.
“This will provide the wholesale market with competitive, low cost, high speed backhaul capability to deliver exciting new broadband and content to 60 regional towns,” he said in a statement.
The ‘shorter route’ includes Geraldton in Western Australia, Victor Harbor in South Australia and South West Gippsland in Victoria. The ‘longer route’ includes Emerald and Longreach in Queensland, Darwin in the Northern Territory, Broken Hill in NSW, the Riverland in South Australia and the Riverina in Victoria.
The Regional Backbone Blackspots Program [RBBP] was first announced in April 2009 with companies sought out by July of that year to implement the Government’s plan. It was welcomed by the telco industry as the first serious step on the NBN’s rollout plan.