Feds chip in $162m for broadband blackspots

Rural and regional areas to finally get fast data services

Remote areas across Australia still without broadband Internet access are set to benefit from $162.5 million in additional funds in the form a federal government Broadband Guarantee announced today.

The Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts announced the Australian Broadband Guarantee (ABG) designed to will fill in any remaining broadband blackspots across Australia and build on the existing $878 million Broadband Connect and $50 million Metro Broadband Connect programs.

Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan said the Australian Broadband Guarantee will provide a "smooth transition" to the $600 million Broadband Connect infrastructure program which will deploy "sustainable and scalable" next-generation infrastructure in rural, regional and remote areas.

"Broadband is an essential service for both individuals and business and is vital for Australia's future economic prosperity," Coonan said. "The Australian government has already provided substantial funding that has seen over 205,000 homes and businesses get a subsidized high quality broadband service and an additional one million premises gain access to broadband services."

Under the program anyone unable to gain a reasonable level of broadband service at their principal place of residence or small business will receive a subsidized broadband service.

The ABG will give consumers subsidized, price capped broadband with a guaranteed minimum level of service and simpler eligibility requirements.

The first phase of the ABG will run until June 2008 when money from the government's $2 billion Communications Fund will be used.

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Rodney Gedda

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