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Telstra requests A$600m for ADSL rollout

Australian incumbent Telstra has requested A$600m from the government to help fund what it says will be the largest ADSL broadband rollout the country has ever seen.

With a significant number of Australians living in extremely remote parts of the country, beyond the reach of much of the cutting edge infrastructure deployed in larger population centres, closing the digital divide in the country is a key government aim.

With that in mind, the state has established the Broadband Connect Infrastructure programme, the fund from which Telstra has requested the A$600m – the entirety of the fund being made available by the government.

Telstra is proposing to extend backhaul infrastructure to a range of remote communities, installing ADSL broadband equipment in 1,560 exchanges and upgrading 1,029 large pair systems that currently prevent ADSL service access in some rural communities.

The net effect, the company has promised, would be an extension of fixed broadband coverage from 91 per cent of the Australian population to 95 per cent.

Telstra last year abandoned a plan to roll out a brand new optic fibre network after a tussle with the government over regulatory issues. The carrier feared it would be forced to open this network to competitors at prices so low as to render deployment economically untenable, Warwick Ponder, director retail and channels public affairs at Telstra, told telecoms.com.

“In the absence of a decent regulatory regime that allows [the deployment of] what we consider to be a decent IP network,” he said, “we’ve asked for the entire A$600m that is being made available to build broadband infrastructure into existing networks.”

Ponder suggested that competitor applications for a share of the fund would involve duplication of infrastructure which, he said, Telstra felt to be in contravention of the government’s rules for deployment.

In October last year, Telstra unveiled its NextG HSDPA network, which it said took high speed wireless access to 98 per cent of Australians.

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