Supper fast 'national broadband network
 
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April 08, 2009

FORGET foggy three-minute YouTube clips labouring to reach your computer. Kevin Rudd's 100-megabits-per-second future will come to you in real time.

 

Australia's vast distances will be tamed by a high-speed national broadband network that will bring instant communication across the continent. Labor's plan will see broadband speeds reach a level up to 100 times faster than those commonly available today, changing the face of digital communication, medicine and education.

 

Friends would be able to chat on their computers without delayed sound and stuttering movement.

 

Heather Preece uses the video-calling software Skype to talk to her mother and friends who live at Nelson Bay, 200km north of her home in Sydney. "We use Skype to see what we've done, our pets, articles or anything like that," Ms Preece said.

 

Her mother Bryony likes to keep an eye on her daughter using the software over the internet.

 

"You can see them and say, 'Oh, gee, you need to eat a bit more food', these kinds of things," Mrs Preece said.

 

"You see if they look a bit tired or happy. It's nice to see a person's face when you're talking to them."

CANBERRA (AFP) — Australia announced a 43 billion dollar (30 billion US) national broadband network Tuesday, in what Prime Minister Kevin Rudd described as the biggest infrastructure project in the country's history.

 

"Today I'm announcing that the Australian government will move ahead to establish, in partnership with the private sector, a company that will build and operate a fibre to the home national broadband network."

The establishment of the network will honour an election promise from Rudd's centre-left Labor government to provide a national network in a country he labelled a "broadband backwater."

The government called tenders for the network shortly after it took office in November 2007 but Rudd said none of the initial proposals met the government's objectives and it decided to pursue a more ambitious plan.

"None of the national proposals offered value for money to the Australian taxpayer," he said.

Rudd said that under the new plan, the government would initially invest 4.7 billion dollars, with the overall investment from government and the private sector reaching up to 43 billion dollars over eight years.

He described the project as "the single largest infrastructure decision in Australia's history."

He said construction would begin early next year and the government would sell its stake in the broadband company five years after the network was up and running.

Rudd said the government understood the importance a national broadband network, with speeds up to 100 times faster than currently available, would play in "turbo-charging Australia's economic future."

"Just as railway tracks laid out the future of the 19th Century and electricity grids the future of the 20th Century, so broadband represents the core infrastructure of the 21st Century," he said.

"Slow broadband is holding our national economy back."

Australia's largest telecoms firm Telstra was excluded from the initial tender after failing to comply with government criteria but Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said it would be invited to take part in the new process.