[LINK] Victoria getting statewide broadband fibre
jwhit at melbpc.org.au
Thu Jun 2 08:50:46 EST 2005
The Age today:
Note mention of fibre to the home. Anyone believe that?
Victoria set to become the switched-on state
June 2, 2005
All will have access to super-fast broadband, writes technology editor
Victoria is set to become Australia's most advanced IT state as over the
next three years Telstra rolls out a $120 million fibre optic network that
will bring true broadband communication to every town and hamlet from the
Murray to the ocean.
"This compares with the Snowy Mountains scheme in its economic potential,"
says Michael Consolo, Telstra's manager for government business in
Victoria. "It is a huge construction project and its impact on Victoria
will be enormous."
Thousands of kilometres of fibre-optic cable will be laid across the state.
More than 700 telephone exchanges, 600 of them in regional Victoria, will
be upgraded to handle the volumes of data the network will carry.
More than 1650 state schools, nearly 400 police stations and 2000-odd state
and local government offices, a total of 4000 sites, will be connected - in
the first stage. After that widespread connections to businesses and homes
"Suddenly, fibre to the home (FTTH) becomes a possibility," says George
Fong, Ballarat's Information and Communications Technology co-ordinator.
"The (State) Government has used itself as the vehicle to spike an
Victoria had produced traction where the Federal Government's Networking
the Nation program had failed because it had not been able to convince
infrastructure builders such as Telstra how they could get a return on
their investment in reasonable time, he said.
The total project is expected to cost at least $120 million. The state is
contributing $89 million over four years, but that is the contract figure,
not the build price. Telstra will bear the cost of building the network and
will recoup its outlay from the traffic it will carry.
All connections will have a minimum data speed of 4 megabits per second,
about 16 times faster than the average domestic broadband speed now
available in metropolitan Melbourne.
It is a standard for schools that Education Services Minister Jacinta Allan
says is matched in the world only by Singapore. It means that even the
10-pupil school in Donald in western Victoria, will have access to
multi-point video conferencing, domestically and internationally,
multimedia project exchange and other high bandwidth activities.
And the police, even in remotest Wood's Point, will have similar facilities
and a much higher level of security.
"John Brumby has been driving an innovation economy in Victoria," Allan
said. "Our schools need to support that by making sure students have the
skills needed in that economy."
Some of the structure is already in place. High-speed internet access
already exists to Victorian regional health alliances, such as Loddon
Valley and GRAHNet in the west of the state.
Roll-out will be progressive with, Mr Fong suggests, "low-hanging fruit"
such as Ballarat and Bendigo getting early attention, along with "one or
two hard ones, such as Ouyen to show they can do it".
With government sites connected, extending the network to businesses and
then homes, even in remote regions, is an obvious next step. "The
opportunities for industry generally are enormous," Mr Consolo said.
But cost will be a factor for the private sector, Mr Fong suggests.
"Termination of fibre into homes and small businesses is still expensive,"
"We need to know about cost and what services will be delivered." Such as,
perhaps, TV or video on demand.
Planning of the project, co-ordinated by MultiMedia Victoria, has taken
four years and involved many Government agencies, principally Education,
Police and Health.
"We are laying down a technological spine throughout Victoria," says Allan.
While the Government was principally interested in its own administrative,
police, educational and health services, the flow-on to businesses and
communities was obvious, she said.
"If, previously, you were in a small country town and you wanted to get
(optical fibre grade services) you would have had to pay for the lot," she
said. "Now, with 700 telephone exchanges being upgraded to handle these
speeds, it will be possible for just the tail to be the cost to the business."
Allan said that as part of the project every Victorian state school would
be equipped with its own wireless local area network to expand access to
the internet and school intranets.
The system would have considerable impact on classroom practices and
curriculums and would require greater support for teachers, for some of
whom the move into a 21st century technological environment presented a
challenge, Allan said.
A mentoring group of 28 technically advanced schools had been set up to
boost teacher training in preparation for the roll-out.
The new Telstra network will replace the Education Department's VicOne
system provided by AAPT under a contract that expired in September last
year. Victoria Police extended its supplier's contract by 12 months so that
an all-of-government contract could be opened for tender. This was won by
Telstra, although Optus has a $20 million contract to provide about half
the Government's mobile services and a large part of the fixed voice
The Telstra fibre network will be synchronous, that is, speeds down from
the internet and back to it will be equal, unlike most current commercial
connections where download speeds are generally much faster than uploads.
For users such as doctors, this opens the door to high-quality video
conferencing, exchange of X-ray and MRI images, real-time surgical
consultations and other benefits.
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