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Broadband network could start in city

Monday, 27th April, 2009

By Stefan Delatovic A plan to start building the National Broadband Network in regional areas has been welcomed by City Council.

Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said last week that $250 million would be spent on fibre optic transmission links in regional areas that have only one provider of service. Broken Hill has been identified as such an area.

The Government plans to spend as much as $43 billion on the national network, which aims to vastly improve ineternet speeds and competition. Senator Conroy has called for submissions on which areas should be given priority, as well as technical issues. "We are moving to immediately improve the competitive market in regional Australia and are fast-tracking a $250 million investment in backbone fibre-optic transmission links. In parts of Australia - particularly links connecting our rural and regional areas - competition is limited as there is only a single provider of these services," said Mr Conroy. Telstra is the only provider of infrastructure in the city. While there are many internet service providers, they all utilise Telstra's equipment, impacting competition. In general, internet users pay more for internet services than their metropolitan counterparts. General Manager of the Broken Hill City Council, Frank Zaknich, welcomed the Government's announcement. "From a competitive standpoint, this should lead to improvement," he said. "We are certainly keen for some of the focus of this to fall on Broken Hill, given the demand for high speed broadband services. "The internet is the great leveler as it allows businesses in isolated areas to compete equally with those in metropolitan centres, and that's the way it should be." "As long as this improves service levels and affordability, which is the main focus for the community, we will keenly support it." Mr Zaknich encouraged all stakeholders to make a submission before the MAy 12 closing date. "This is aimed at improving the service we receive in the short term, and we would be happy for that."

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