NEC reveals rural broadband rollout

Telco and hardware manufacturer NEC has revealed a nation-wide expansion of its wholesale broadband network is nearing completion, with the last stage of the works to be finished by the end of 2011.

The company today revealed it has undertaken a multi-million dollar expansion program for its regional Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer (DSLAM) and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) networks thanks in part to the Federal Government’s Regional Backbone Blackspots program.

Announced in December 2009, the Backbone Blackspots program could cost the Federal Government up to $250 million, but will cover more than 6000 kilometres of rural Australia benefitting nearly 395,000 residents. The program has allowed Leighton Holdings-owned Nextgen Networks to roll-out a number of new fibre connections across rural Australia, with NEC to place 62 new DSLAMs along five of the backbone links that are found in every mainland Australian state except the Australian Capital Territory.

Three of the shorter links — in Geraldton, South West Gippsland and Victor Harbor – are already in place, with NEC anticipating the final two links to come online by the end of 2011.

It’ll allow NEC to offer its Nextep network in more rural and metropolitan areas than before, offering customers more broader coverage for their wide area connectivity and data service. According to NEC Australia’s Managing Director Alan Hyde, demand for increased bandwidth and service quality is behind the upgrade. “NEC’s backhaul and core network capacity have been expanded extensively to ensure the continued delivery of reliable, high quality and cost effective services to our customers,” Hyde said in a statement today.

NEC said the upgrade would allow the organisation to offer wholesale customers access to high speed and high performance national private networks, that will provide cloud-based capabilities and support voice, video and data service off the one backbone.

“Backbone links are the broadband highways that connect our cities, towns and rural areas to the wider world,” Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy said in a statement last year announcing the Blackspots program. “Access to competitive backbone infrastructure on an open access, equivalent basis will allow retail broadband providers to expand further into regional areas.”

Image credit: Philippe Ramakers, royalty free