Australia plans $3.8b broadband plan

Australia's Federal Labor has unveiled plans to raid the Future Fund to build a A$4.7 billion ($3.8 billion) national high-speed broadband network, a New Zealand Herald report said.

The report said under the plan, Labor will sell up to A$2.7 billion ($2.1 billion) worth of Telstra shares held in the Future Fund to help pay for the project.

The project will connect 98% of Australians to broadband services with a speed more than 40 times faster than most current speeds, the report said.

Labor leader Kevin Rudd said it was a historic decision to build a world-class national broadband network.

'We believe this is a critical step when it comes to Australia's long-term economic future,' Rudd was quoted by the report as saying.

Labor proposes to invest up to A$4.7 billion, including the existing A$2 billion ($1.7 billion) communications fund, in a partnership with the private sector to build the network over the next five years.

Rudd said Australia was lagging behind the rest of the developed world on broadband take-up rates and available bandwidth, the report said.