Australian incumbent and leading broadband provider Telstra has submitted a last-minute proposal for the government’s AUD600 million (USD468.9 million) Broadband Connect fund. The cellco, which at the end of June 2006 had 42% of its domestic broadband market by subscribers, has been critical in the past about the government’s fund, describing it as ‘an unsound approach to building networks’. However, Telstra is now proposing that the fund is used to extend the existing copper ADSL network, claiming that it could enable fixed terrestrial broadband access to over 250,000 homes for the first time, as well as upgrading exchanges and removing over 1,000 large pair-gain systems which currently block access to some rural services. Submissions for the fund closed yesterday. Broadband Connect is designed to provide broadband to Australia’s rural communities, and is part of the government’s AUD3.1 billion commitment to improving all regional telecoms services. AUD1.1 billion is to be spent during 2007, with another AUD2 billion earmarked for future developments.