By Patrick Avenell

MT ISA, QUEENSLAND: The Minister responsible for the National Broadband Network, Stephen Conroy today launched the first fibre optic backbone link on the Australian continent. Previous advancements in the NBN have been restricted to Tasmania.

“Backbone infrastructure provides the communication links that connect our towns, cities and rural areas to each other and the world,” said Conroy.

"This fibre optic backbone link will run from Darwin, through central and south east Queensland to Toowoomba, as part of the Government’s $250 million program.

"One of the biggest obstacles for fast broadband in Mt Isa has been the lack of competitive fibre optic backbone services.

"Once complete, this link will allow other broadband providers to enter the market and offer faster broadband speeds, cheaper prices and more choice for people and businesses across the region."

"This is a massive construction project for the long term benefit of the region.

"Construction of the Darwin, Mt Isa, Emerald and Longreach link will take around 18 months and once complete, will directly benefit more than 160,000 people in more than 40 regional locations across the Northern Territory and Queensland.

"In total, the five links will connect more than 100 regional locations and benefit approximately 395,000 people in regional Australia."

The Darwin, Emerald and Longreach route will provide access points in regional centres including Mt Isa, Barcaldine, Berrimah, Blackwater, Casuarina, Chinchilla, Howard Springs, Katherine, Nightcliff, Noonamah, Oakey, Palmerston, Roma, Dalby, Arcadia, Apunyal, Bogantungan, Gunnewin, Jericho, Morella, Pickajinnie, Toowoomba, Winton and Tennant Creek.

"Today is just the beginning. As the NBN rolls out, high speed broadband will also be expanded to all homes, schools and workplaces across Australia.

"The Government’s implementation study is working with NBN Co to finalise the rollout plan and schedule for the network."