Prime Minister Julia Gillard said on Thursday that remote areas in Australia will soon enjoy wireless broadband access with the sealing of the $280 million deal between NBN Co and U.S.-based ViaSat Inc.
The contract calls for the construction of 20 13.5 metre-wide satellite antennas that will be installed in 10 satellite ground stations spread out across the country.
The soon-to-be-built communication infrastructures fill the void of the mostly fibre-optic national broadband network (NBN), according to NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley, who was with Ms Gillard when the announcement in Townsville, Queensland.
The NBN fixed-line structures have been projected to deliver broadband connection to 93 percent of Australian locations over the next 10 years, with the rest to be serviced either by LTE networks or by satellite feeds.
The ViaSat-NBN deal covers approximately three percent of the areas unreachable by the wired network, according to the NBN Co top honcho, most of them situated in the remotest regions of Australia.
"It will be designed to ensure those who live in the most geographically-isolated parts of the country are able to take advantage of the opportunities that the digital economy enables," Mr Quigley was quoted by the Australian Associated Press (AAP) as saying.
NBN Co said the fixed wireless network and satellite services would deliver broadband speeds of up to 12MBPS and will commence initial operation by the last quarter of 2013.
The government is targeting to connect at least 30,000 homes and businesses in the regional centres of Townsville, Mackay and Rockhampton at around that time, Ms Gillard said.
That number is expected to balloon to 200,000 subscribers once the infrastructures that ViaSat will build becomes fully operational, which also includes the same number of satellite dishes that will be installed on households and business that will avail of NBN's services.
Once the new wireless network becomes a reality, the farthest Australian areas will be able to access fast, affordable and reliable broadband, which in most cases will surpass even the speeds offered by ISPs in key urban areas or even CBDs, the Prime Minister said.
Ms Gillard noted that the NBN initiative was the brainchild of the Labor government on its quest to allow Australians to have a clear say in shaping the future.
The NBN also erases "the digital divide that would have reflected the income gap, the wealth gap, in our nation," she added.
According to The Australian, the Prime Minister also emphasised that with broadband access being delivered on as many Aussies as possible, claims by the Coalition as 'the workers' friend' should be dismissed outright.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, Ms Gillard said, "was twisting and turning about whether he would rip penalty rates off working people."
"With friends like that, who needs enemies?" she asked.
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