Telstra to splash $1.6 billion on new fibre networks across Australia

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Telstra to splash $1.6 billion on new fibre networks across Australia

Telstra has announced plans to build two new fibre network infrastructure projects across Australia.

The telco was tapped by US-based satellite broadband firm Viasat to build and manage its ground infrastructure and fibre network in Australia as part of a 16.5-year contract. The network will support Viasat’s new ViaSat-3 terabit-class global satellite system.

Telstra will also build a new network for inter-city dual fibre paths to add some 20,000 new route kilometres to increase the capacity of the telco’s existing fibre networks.

The projects are expected to cost Telstra between $1.4-1.6 billion outside of its business-as-usual capex envelope over the next five years.

Telstra chief executive Andrew Penn said the two projects “recognised the strength of Telstra’s network assets” and were also part of Telstra’s T25 InfraCo plans to deliver profitable growth and value by improving access, utilisation and scale of its infrastructure.

“Investing in these two truly significant nation-building projects will see us continue to have the largest intercity fibre network in the country, helping to future proof Australia’s digital economy and further improving connectivity in regional Australia,” Penn said.

Viasat’s global satellite system comprises three satellites designed to provide around 1Tbps of total network capacity and promises 150Mbps speeds for fixed, mobile and Government customers.

Viasat president of space and commercial networks Dave Ryan said, “Telstra is a trusted, well-respected organisation with impressive infrastructure assets in Asia and an extensive fibre network.”

“By leveraging their existing infrastructure for our ground network, we can cost-effectively optimise our satellite assets and significantly lower our risk of deployment and operations for the ViaSat-3 terabit-class satellite system. We remain focused on delivering advanced connectivity – from mobility and government services to connecting hard-to-reach communities – across the region.”

On the new inter-city dual fibre path network, Penn said the investment would help accelerate the growth of InfraCo while providing “ultrafast” connectivity between capital cities and improved regional connectivity.

The network is also a multi-year build set to commence at scale in late FY2022, with some trials and test deployments already underway. Telstra said it is also in discussions with potential anchor customers like global hyperscalers, local telcos and construction partners.

“This will support remote working and education needs, health services, high-definition entertainment consumption and online gaming, and IoT use cases such as mining and agriculture,” Penn said.

“We’re already seeing connection speeds on the current network surge from 100GB to 400GB and beyond through our investments to date. There is growing demand for greater fibre capacity, enabling massive bandwidth and ultrafast data rates with lower latency. The time for delivering the infrastructure to support this is now.”

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