CANBERRA—Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Friday unveiled an expanded footprint for a planned national high-speed fiber Internet network that will now reach 93% of homes and businesses, up from 90% previously.
The network is a defining policy for Gillard’s ruling center-left Labor government ahead of an Aug. 21 general election.
But the program isn’t universally loved, even though it is popular with many voters. Australia’s main conservative Liberal-National opposition coalition has questioned the need for such an expensive service and has threatened to scrap the plan if it returns to power.
“The national broadband network is about building a modern economy. Without it, Australian businesses won’t be able to compete with those in Japan, Korea or Singapore,” Ms. Gillard said Friday.
The government says its new network will provide much more than telecom services and aid in the delivery of health and education services to remote communities, among other benefits.
The network will offer speeds of 100 megabits per second—100 times faster than many Australians experience currently.
But opposition leader Tony Abbott argues the network, which the government estimates could cost up to 43 billion Australian dollars ($38.8 billion) to build, is a costly “white elephant” that would create a new nationalized communications monopoly.
Related articles by Zemanta
- Australia Expands Fiber Internet Network (online.wsj.com)
- Australia govt expands proposed broadband network (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Australian govt adds 300,000 homes, businesses to coverage area of proposed broadband network (foxnews.com)
- Gillard under pressure in Australia poll race (ft.com)
- Julia Gillard heading for defeat in Australian election (telegraph.co.uk)
- Australia begs residents to accept free fiber connection (arstechnica.com)