Work has officially commenced on the Cambridge to Midway Point section of the National Broadband Network (NBN) in Tasmania, with the first cables being laid in five-year-old foundations.
Andrew Connor from consumer action group, Digital Tasmania, said today's event is a great milestone, considering the foundations have been in place for around five years.
Tasmanian premier, David Bartlett, said the fibre optic network would stem the tide of talent that is often forced to move to mainland Australia to find jobs.
"This roll out will ensure your kids and my kids will be able to get the jobs right here in Tasmania that they used to go interstate to get,” he said in a statement.
"We have a choice to continue to export our best and brightest or do the hard yards through projects like this to create the jobs that will see our children stay here and return here."
Connor agreed: "Anything you can do to create more interesting or high-tech jobs in Tasmania is a good thing."
The rollout to about 200,000 Tasmania premises will make the state the most connected place on the planet by 2014, Bartlett said.
The Tasmanian NBN rollout was officially announced in July. The project involves the construction of a seven kilometre fibre optic transmission link between Aurora Energy's Cambridge Data Centre and Midway Point.
Tasmania contractor, Nu Energy, national contractor, John Holland, and international technology provider, Marais Lucas, have teamed up to work on the project. The project team will utilise 'Cleanfast' construction technology - a horizontal drilling technology - to minimise environmental and community impacts.
Federal communications minister, Senator Conroy, confirmed the first high-speed broadband services over the NBN in Tasmania are expected to be available by July 2010.
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In anticipation, the Tasmanian Government is turning its focus to broadband applications. The Launceston General Hospital is piloting a project to transmit clinical information between the hospital, a patient's GP and the community pharmacist.
"Ultimately, we could also see an 80 year-old grandmother having her health monitored in her own home via her TV screen rather than through endless trips to hospital, helping her to enjoy a better quality of life," Bartlett said.
"This is the future I see for Tasmania and all Tasmanians," Mr Bartlett said.
The NBN is already having an effect on the Tasmanian economy, with Macquarie Telecom announcing its decision to invest in a new IP VPN data network in Tasmania was enabled by the NBN and regulatory certainty around wholesale and retail competition.
"We wouldn’t have invested if it weren’t for the NBN,” Macquarie Telecom’s chief executive officer, David Tudehope, told Computerworld.
The network will ride on the back of the last mile access created by the Tasmanian NBN Co and will help reduce costs faced by telecommunication business customers in Tasmania.
“It’s a significant investment,” Tudehope said. “The Tasmanian market is smaller, but it is crying out for competition for business IP services.”