Sunday 9 September 2007
New OPEL Project Underway
The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator the Hon Helen Coonan, announced today that the funding agreement for a new national high speed broadband network has been signed with OPEL Networks, a joint venture between rural group Elders and Optus.
“This Funding Agreement captures all the service commitments I announced with the Prime Minister on 18 June 2007 and provides the foundation for a new $1.9 billion competitive broadband network that will deliver services over 638,000 square kilometres,” Senator Coonan said.
“The OPEL network will deliver on the Howard Government’s commitment to extend high-speed broadband out to 99 per cent of all households and small businesses at retail prices which are comparable to the competitive prices enjoyed by metropolitan Australians,” Senator Coonan said.
“High speed broadband is essential to overcome the isolation that many people in rural and remote Australia experience. The OPEL network will reinvigorate many rural communities and change the way that rural Australians engage with the rest of the world.” Senator Coonan said.
“OPEL has already commenced work on establishing its new scalable, state-of-the-art WiMAX, ADSL2+ and fibre wholesale network that is targeted for completion by June 2009.
“The Government will independently test the network to ensure that coverage is achieved to a very high standard, and that the service in rural and regional areas is comparable the standard obtained in metropolitan Australia,” Senator Coonan said.
“OPEL will be required to provide a high quality wholesale service which will enable broadband services to be provided to hundreds of thousands of under-served rural and regional premises.
“The OPEL network will open up opportunities for rural business to reach new customers, buy and sell equipment online and access the latest information,” Senator Coonan said.
“In tandem with this Agreement, Elders and Optus have also entered into a joint venture agreement which has committed them to contribute assets and investments of over $900 million to establish OPEL Networks.
“OPEL Networks is a structurally separated ‘wholesale only’ company, that will operate and maintain the network, and that will sell services on a transparent and equivalent basis to parent entities Elders and Optus, and to any other broadband provider in the market.
“The OPEL network will significantly enhance broadband choice and service quality in thousands of regional and rural towns. In particular, OPEL’s requirement to offer a 30 per cent discount on current regional backhaul pricing across its 15,000km fibre network will provide a great incentive for other broadband providers to offer services in regional areas,” Senator Coonan said.
“OPEL’s commitment to best practice wholesale operations will be reflected in its Best Practice Wholesale Plan, which contains its public commitment to pricing, access, independence and consultation principles.
“The Best Practice Plan and draft terms and conditions for its wholesale services will be publicly released, and OPEL and the Government will undertake a public consultation process,” Senator Coonan said.
“We are one step closer to flicking the fast broadband switch and welcoming the advent of a new, world class network for all Australians regardless of where they live,” Senator Coonan said.
The new scalable national OPEL network will include the very best mix of technologies, including:
- a new state of the art wireless broadband network, with 1,361 new wireless broadband WiMAX sites being rolled out across the country;
- a further 312 exchanges will also be enabled with very fast ADSL2+ broadband for the first time (with an additional 114 exchanges being enabled by Optus on a fully commercial basis); and
15,000km of fibre optic backhaul to extend the broadband highways that link rural areas back to major city centres.
Media Contact: Frank Peppard 0417 061 969