updated 10:30 am EDT, Tue April 7, 2009
Australia 100Mbps National
The Australian government today set out to improve the country's Internet access by unveiling a plan to roll out a nationwide, fiber-to-the-home Internet service. The network would provide 100Mbps access to about 90 percent of the country's population and would reach the remaining 10 percent through long-range wireless. Completing the network will take about 8 years and a cost of as much as $43 billion AUD ($30.6 billion US) over that period.
Although it will be managed by a new company, about 51 percent of the venture will initially be owned by the government itself, with 49 percent left to existing private companies. Australia hopes to recoup some of the cost by selling its stake back to the private sector after 5 years.
The deployment follows an unsuccessful request for bids which saw no one company willing to meet the government's expectations; however, those that previously had their bids rejected will be allowed to participate and include the country's larger telecoms firms, such as SingTel and Telstra.
Having widespread fiber optic broadband is likely to significantly alter the landscape for Internet access in Australia. The continent has typically had one of the most restrictive private markets for Internet access among Western nations and regularly involves low speeds and particularly low data transfer caps, both of which have made streaming video, gaming and other high-bandwidth Internet content difficult or expensive to use. Australia's large size has also made connecting rural users difficult without the financial justification to pass by small neighborhoods.
The first parts of the network should be available by early 2010 and will simultaneously include both urban and countryside networks.