The Federal Government is to spend up to $250 million on new backbone transmission links to a number of Internet regional centres, including Broken Hill, Darwin and Geraldton, as part of its Regional Backbone Blackspots Program.
The links, due to be under construction by September, will connect to, and help facilitate, the government’s national broadband network (NBN) in regional and remote areas, according to request for tender documents.
The roll out of the links is expected to additionally deliver an economic stimulus, supporting jobs and providing a boost to the economy, and better service outcomes for consumers in regional communities.
“In regional areas where there is a lack of competitive backbone services there is little pressure on a wholesale supplier to offer low prices and higher quality services,” the document said.
“This can mean that Internet service providers and other service providers have limited scope to make new and/or higher quality services available to consumers in those areas at prices that are competitive, when compared to similar locations that have alternative backbone supply options.”
According to the tender document, the government expects to install a minimum of 24 optical fibres per location with the exception of Geraldton, which will require a minimum of 48.
The government is also considering the use of alternate technologies, such as microwave, to serve small communities off the main fibre backbone.
The document said the government’s preferred model for the rollout was to have the Commonwealth own the fibre and other passive/physical network elements, which may be transferred to the NBN’s operating company (NBNCo).
It will, however, leave the management, operation and maintenance of the infrastructure up to suppliers for at least five years following completion of the construction.
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