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WA fibre network link goes live (updated)

Backhaul link between Perth and Geraldton paves the way for Square Kilometre Array

The CSIRO-run Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope will utilise fibre links from Murchison to Geraldton, and Geraldton to Perth

The CSIRO-run Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope will utilise fibre links from Murchison to Geraldton, and Geraldton to Perth

The competitive fibre backhaul link between Perth and Geraldton — part of the $250 million NBN Regional Backbone Blackspots Program (RBBP) — is live and open for business.

The link, built by Nextgen Networks is already in use, delivering broadband to residents and businesses in mid-west Australia.

The 426km Perth to Geraldton fibre link was designed, constructed and commissioned into service on time and on budget. Managing director of Nextgen, Phil Sykes, officially welcomed service providers, which include the likes of iiNet, its Westnet brand and Nextep, to the network.

The new network also paves the way for CSIRO’s $80 million Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project. At least two of the telescope arrays that form part of Australia's bid for the global project are likely to utilise part of the 426km fibre run between Perth and Geraldton in Western Australia.

“As a specialist supplier of wholesale transmission and data networking services, Nextgen is actively supporting Australia’s leading carriers and service providers reach more customers across Australia,” he said in a statement.

In pictures: Regional backbone blackspots program

“We believe that the RBBP network offers an historic opportunity for service providers to compete in regional markets with an expanded portfolio of services, offering more choice and value to end users,” Sykes said.

The organisation is marking the completion with a ceremony that local and state dignitaries, and the Minister for Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy.

Sykes also acknowledged the role of construction partner, Visionstream, in the delivery of the project.

About 35,000 residential and business premises in the Mid West will be able to access the network for fixed and wireless broadband access.

The availability of competitive backhaul provided through the RBBP initiative is a threshold requirement for early NBN rollout.

Geraldton has been identified as:

  • A priority second release site for NBNCo Fibre-to-the-Premise (‘FTTP’)
  • deployment
  • A location for an NBNCo Point of Interconnection (POI).

Nextgen is a specialist transmission services provider to telecommunication carriers and service providers, corporations and government. It is owned by project development and contracting group, Leighton Holdings.

Nextep installed DSLAM equipment in four exchanges on the Geraldton route. The new network effectively covers “the entire greater Geraldton area, not just the CBD”, according to the company.

Nextep is supplying wholesale residential and business grade based services, including Internet, voice and Cloud solutions. In a statement, the company said it would supply access to several high profile ISPs and system integrators.

The company will also offer ADSL2+ and SHDSL services to customers in the other RBBP areas of Victor Harbour, South Australia by March 2011 and South-West Gippsland, Victoria by April 2011. Customers located on longer sections of the RBBP network such as Darwin, Broken Hill, South Australia's Riverland, Emerald and Longreach, and Victoria's Riverina are expected to go live later in the year.

“Nextep plans to install DSLAMs in 62 locations on the network and offer wholesale broadband services making it easier for regional and national Service Providers to turn on ports in new locations supporting the Australian Government's overall objective of having Services Providers go into regional areas to offer more value and choice to customers at competitive prices”, said Nextep general manager at NEC Australia, Peter Neatnica.

It’s full circle for internet service provider Westnet, which was founded in Geraldton in 1994 and quickly became one of Western Australia’s most popular internet service providers before being bought by iiNet in 2008.

Local resident, Mark Gardiner, was the first Westnet customer to be transferred to the new network and said in a statement that his family was looking forward to improved broadband speeds.

“Our teenage daughters use the internet extensively for their high school studies and my wife and I use email, pay bills, shop and keep in touch with family. Having a bigger quota and faster speeds, will mean we can do a lot more in less time without upgrading to a new plan,” he said in a statement.

Geraldton will secure more than 2500 new points of broadband access as part of iiNet’s investment of more than $5 million in high speed broadband infrastructure in regional Australia during 2011.

Leighton Holding’s Visionstream also worked with civil engineering and mining company, Ngarda Alliance, on the project. Leighton Holdings is a member of the Australian Indigenous Minority Supplier Council (AIMSC) an organisation that brings indigenous suppliers together with members and customers.

Read more about AIMSC in Corporate social responsibility at the executive level.

Tags Regional Broadband Blackspots Programme (RBBP)GeraldtonNextgen NetworksWAPerthSquare Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescopeNBNbroadband

More about BackboneCSIROCSIROetworkIinetNECNECNECNextepNextgen Networks

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