Telstra and NSW Government make $280m Broadband deal

The NSW government has made a four-year $280 million deal with Telstra for the rollout of an optical fibre network for public schools and TAFE institutes across their state. More than 2,400 educational facilities will be connected by over 4,500 kilometres of fibre-optic cable.

NSW minister for education and training, Verity Firth, claims the academic network will be, ‘the largest in Australia and one of the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere.’

Firth went on to say the new system would be a flexible one where, ‘bandwidth provided to schools can be increased or decreased to meet temporary spikes in demand as well as growth or declines in the student population.’

The $280 million deal comes in the middle of negotiations between Telstra and the Federal Government over its network assets and whether or not it will combine them into the NBN Co’s National Broadband Network (NBN). The NBN is planned as a fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) fibre-optic network, the same technology as that of this new NSW and Telstra plan.

Speeds will be from 4Mbps to 100Mbps depending on individual schools’ requirements. This comes after Telstra-led upgrades completed in Victoria last year, funded by the Victorian government’s $89.3 million VicSmart Initiative, where all sites were upgraded from 4Mbps to 10Mbps. In July, Catholic schools all over Australia already agreed to pay Telstra $146 million to connect 1550 schools.

The rollout for this plan will be undertaken between now and September 2010, with a reported 150 jobs being created for the work effort. Firth continues, ‘This massive program builds on the NSW Government's $158 million Connected Classrooms program ($66 million to have interactive whiteboards and video-conferencing facilities in all NSW schools by 2011, and $29 million for all students to have their own secure online workspace for receiving and handing in homework), and supports the Commonwealth Government's $2.1 billion Digital Education Revolution, which will bring a computer to every NSW student between Year 9-12.