The Australian government has launched an initiative to make broadband a reality for all households across the country by mid-2009. Called Australia Connected, the new network will provide 12Mbps connections to thousands of rural and regional communities, building on the 4.3 million homes and small businesses that are already connected to broadband. The new network will be built by OPEL, a joint venture between Optus and Elders. The consortium has been awarded AUD958 million (USD807 million) of funding from the government, with a possible AUD1 billion in reserve. OPEL is also providing AUD900 million of its own funds for the project. Work on the new high speed wholesale broadband network will begin immediately, using an ADSL2+ platform supported by a variety of wireless technologies.
A website, www.broadbandnow.gov.au, will be launched on 1 July to provide information to new users about how to access broadband, which broadband options are available in which areas, what the technologies mean for each area, and the eligibility for government assistance programs such as the Australian Broadband Guarantee which includes a AUD2,750 entitlement to houses which are too remote to be covered by the new broadband infrastructure.