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Hello High Speed: NBN Full Throttle Hits Tas

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NBN Co has finalised its $300m agreement for the construction of the National Broadband Network (NBN) in Tasmania, it said today.

The NBN Co will team up with networking service provider, Visionstream (part of Leighton Holdings), to construct the remainder of the fibre network in Tasmania.

The contract is worth around $300 million over the initial four year  period, although the Department of  Communications said earlier the deal was worth $220 m.

The fibre optic network will deliver broadband speeds of up to 100Mbps.

So far, there are just 5,500 people connected to NBN across Australia and this new deal will connect 190,000 premises in Tasmania by 2015.

Tasmania was one of the first locations to get NBN treatment with partial rollout in rural areas last year, with fibre services now available in Scottsdale, Smithton and Midway Point.

Its the first state in Australia where the controversial network will be rolled out in its entirety.

“The Gillard Government made a commitment to Tasmanians that they would be the first to benefit from the rollout,” said Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband.

And Conroy was also quick to sing off the benefits (not to mention the electoral bounce) the $36bn project will have in Tasmania. 

“It will establish a permanent NBN maintenance workforce in Tasmania, creating more job opportunities for Tasmanians.”

The contract is expected to create 800 new jobs during rollout as well as a permanent workforce to undertake maintenance and future upgrades.

However there has been some question marks over the NBN Co decision to rollout high speed fibre optic network in Tasmania and other rural spots (including Armidale, NSW) rather than heavily populated urban locations.

However, NBN Co’s Chief Operations Officer, Ralph Steffens, said it will give Tasmanians a head start on high speed broadband:

“It’s appropriate that the state that was the first to be connected to the NBN will be the first where the rollout will be complete. It will give Tasmania a head start to be able to take advantage of this transformative infrastructure for the nation’s future.”

Mike Quigley’s NBN Co anticipates that services will be available in Triabunna in the coming weeks, followed by Deloraine, Sorell, St Helens, Kingston Beach, George Town and South Hobart over the coming months.

The broadband company updated its 12 month fibre rollout schedule in February, which now covers 758,100 homes and businesses in 66 locations in Australia where the network is either active, work is underway or planned to start by the end of 2012, NBN Co said today.

This schedule includes three new locations in Tasmania: Bellerive, Claremont and South Launceston.

NBN Co is expected to issue its first three-year indicative rollout plan shortly, it said in a statement.