Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd issued a press release on Tuesday announcing "the establishment of a new company to build and operate a new super fast National Broadband Network." Rudd's administration plans to set up a company that mixes a controlling government stake with hefty private-sector funding.
The goal: Spend up to $43 billion in Australian dollars -- equal to about $30 billion U.S. -- over the next eight years to meet what seem like impossible goals:
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* Connect 90 percent of all Australian homes, schools and workplaces with broadband services with speeds up to 100 megabits per second - 100 times faster than those currently used by many households and businesses.
* Connect all other premises in Australia with next-generation wireless and satellite technologies that will be deliver broadband speeds of 12 megabits per second.
* Directly support up to 25,000 local jobs every year, on average, over the eight-year life of the project.
If the plan is implemented, 90 percent of Australia's estimated 8.2 million households will be wired with fiber optic cables, the rest with high-speed wireless connections, at an average cost of around $3,500 U.S. dollars per household. By contrast, President Obama's broadband initiative budgets $8 billion for just over 100 million households -- a scant $75 per household. The Obama administration claims that additional funding and policy reforms will focus not on funding a buildout, but on incentives to private broadband carriers to build more high-speed networks on their own.