WCIT 2002: Telstra backs broadband

Telstra today announced details of a $50 million stimulus package for the Australian broadband market and called on industry to invest in the initiative.

Speaking at the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT 2002) Telstra chief executive Ziggy Switkowski said the package covers three initiatives including a Broadband Development Fund.

Telstra will contribute $10 million to the fund over two years and a further $15 million over five years, matching dollar-for dollar contributions from industry.

Switkowski said industry participants likely to commercially benefit from broadband use in Australia are Microsoft, Computer Associates and Silicon Graphics.

He said the development fund would be administered by a board made up of government, Telstra and industry representatives.

The board would oversee grants to local educational institutions and local developers and businesses for the development of tools and technologies to promote efficient broadband in areas of digital subscriber line (DSL), satellite and cable. This could include video streaming and video on demand.

In a second initiative, Telstra will contribute international bandwidth up to a value of $10 million, which will be split across development projects requiring bandwidth between Australian and Asian centres, and usage by local educational institutions and between Australian and Asian centres for educational applications.

Telstra will contribute an additional $10 million in the form of international bandwidth to be used by sunrise industries which are bandwidth-intensive and whose growth serves the national interest.

This $20 million total bandwidth contribution, over two years, will be administered by the board, and Telstra is encouraging other international carriers with operations in Australia to make similar contributions.

The third part to Telstra's total spending package is $5 million on an educative advertising campaign featuring the benefits of Internet and broadband by both business and consumers.

Dr Switkowski said that Telstra believed the current phase of growth of the Australian broadband market was nearing completion characterised by the "early adopters" taking up both the cable and asymmetric DSL services.

"Through a combination of satellite, our rollout of ADSL to more than 650 exchanges and our HFC network which passes 2.5 million homes, broadband is available across the whole country," he said.

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