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THE long-awaited details of the first stage of the $43 billion national broadband network will be revealed in Tasmania today.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy will use the platform of the state Labor Party conference to unveil the model for the crucial Tasmanian stage.

The importance of the Tasmanian portion of the network stems from its status as a test-case for the national broadband network (NBN), which the Government says will deliver high-speed broadband via fibre directly to the homes of 90 per cent of Australia's population.

Tasmania was chosen to spearhead the building of the network for a number of reasons, including its compact size, the presence of a small, experimental existing fibre-to-the-home network, and the fact that its Government had already submitted a bid to build the Tasmanian component of the more basic network the Federal Government later shelved in favour of the NBN.

It is believed Mr Rudd and Senator Conroy will reveal, among other things, which parts of Tasmania the network will reach and who will sit on the board of the Tasmanian subsidiary of the company that will administer the national roll-out. It is also believed they will announce the building of a data centre as part of the project.

Senator Conroy, the Tasmanian Government and the state-owned power company Aurora have been working feverishly to draw up a plan for the roll-out, which Senator Conroy said earlier this year would begin this month.

Aurora will build and maintain the network in Tasmania, and it is believed the delay in announcing details of the network stemmed partly from haggling over valuation of Aurora's assets and its insistence that it choose the chairman of the Tasmanian NBN Co's board.

Senator Conroy said earlier this month that the roll-out would "begin shortly" in the island state, and that the NBN would come on-line in Tasmania in the second quarter of next year. With Tasmanian and federal elections due next year, both Governments are likely to push for a concrete demonstration of the network's viability to take to the voters.

Senator Conroy has also said he intends naming members of the board of the national NBN company by the end of this month, and also the lead adviser for the implementation study on which the national network will be based.

It was also revealed yesterday the Federal Government would pay Minter Ellison Lawyers $660,000 for six months' work on the Tasmanian roll-out.



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