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Australia is preparing to start its largest building infrastructure project following the announcement of a nation-wide broadband network.

The National Broadband Network was confirmed by the government yesterday following mounting speculation.

Prime minister Kevin Rudd announced details of the project which will see 90 per cent of all homes, schools and workplaces in Australia connected to a fibre optic network with speeds of up to 100Mb.

Households in rural areas will receive internet access via next-generation wireless and satellite systems which will deliver speeds of around 12Mb.

A statement explained: "Every person and business in Australia, no-matter where they are located, will have access to affordable, fast broadband at their fingertips.

"High-speed broadband is increasingly essential to the way Australians communicate, and do business. It will help drive Australia's productivity, improve education and health service delivery and connect our big cities and regional centres."

The Australian government will make an initial investment of AU$4.7 billion (£2.3 billion) in the project and will work with private-sector firms to develop and rollout the network.

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