Cheaper in­ter­net has ar­rived

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - FRONT PAGE - DARYL PASSMORE

A TECH­NOL­OGY rev­o­lu­tion will de­liver faster, more re­li­able in­ter­net ac­cess to mil­lions of Queens­lan­ders – and save them money.

A new State Govern­men­towned com­pany will be launched to­day to lease sur­plus ca­pac­ity on a 6000km fi­bre-op­tic cable net­work.

It will boost ac­cess and com­pe­ti­tion in cities and towns through­out re­gional Queens­land, putting house­holds and busi­nesses on an equal foot­ing with the south­east cor­ner, in a move for­mer chief en­tre­pre­neur Steve Bax­ter likened to build­ing a dig­i­tal Bruce High­way with in­fi­nite lanes.

Q&A What is Fi­breCo Queens­land?

A new jointly owned trad­ing com­pany of state-owned cor­po­ra­tions Pow­er­link and En­ergy Queens­land.

What will it do?

Lease spare ca­pac­ity on an ex­ist­ing fi­bre-op­tic cable net­work in re­gional Queens­land to re­tail in­ter­net ser­vice providers.

Where will it be avail­able?

Cities and towns be­tween the Sun­shine Coast and Cairns, and in­land to Emer­ald and Roma.

When?

From mid-2019.

What is the ben­e­fit?

Greater ca­pac­ity means faster, more re­li­able in­ter­net and greater com­pe­ti­tion.

How much will cus­tomers save?

It de­pends on the providers’ pack­ages, but mod­el­ling sug­gests whole­sale ac­cess could be up to 10 times cheaper. MIL­LIONS of Queens­lan­ders will get ac­cess to faster, cheaper in­ter­net with the launch of a State Gov­ern­ment tech rev­o­lu­tion.

The once-in-a-gen­er­a­tion scheme will make avail­able an enor­mous amount of spare ca­pac­ity along 6000km of fi­bre-op­tic cable, which was in­stalled through­out re­gional Queens­land to ser­vice sta­te­owned cor­po­ra­tions.

“This will change the face of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for much of Queens­land,” tech­nol­ogy ty­coon and for­mer state chief en­tre­pre­neur Steve Bax­ter told The Sun­day Mail.

“This is the equiv­a­lent of build­ing the Bruce High­way, but bet­ter – an in­fi­nite-lane free­way of­fer­ing un­lim­ited ca­pac­ity for the re­gions.

“It is hard to get across the scale of this. The ben­e­fits will be mas­sive,” said Mr Bax­ter, a judge on TV’s Shark Tank.

Pre­mier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk will to­day an­nounce a new state-owned en­tity set up to lease the ca­pac­ity to in­ter­net re­tail ser­vice providers, who will of­fer pack­ages to house­holds and com­pa­nies.

Called Fi­breCo Queens­land, it should be in op­er­a­tion by the mid­dle of next year.

More than 600,000 homes and busi­nesses will be able to ben­e­fit from en­hanced con­nec­tiv­ity from the Sun­shine Coast to Cairns, through cities such as Bund­aberg, Rock­hamp­ton, Mackay and Townsville, as well as smaller sur­round­ing towns.

The net­work also stretches in­land as far as Emer­ald and Roma. Toowoomba will be in­cluded but not the rest of south­east Queens­land, which is al­ready bet­ter served.

The fi­bre-op­tic net­work was in­stalled years ago to sup­port state-owned util­i­ties such as Pow­er­link and En­ergy Queens­land. But as much as 50 per cent of the ca­pac­ity is not needed.

Con­sumer prices will be set by in­ter­net ser­vice providers, but mod­el­ling for Trea­sury by KPMG and ob­tained by The Sun­day Mail sug­gested Fi­breCo could of­fer up to 10 times the ca­pac­ity at a lower price than providers us­ing the NBN in re­gional ar­eas.

In ad­di­tion to of­fer­ing do­mes­tic re­gional cus­tomers sim­i­lar speeds to those in ur­ban cen­tres, the vastly en­hanced ca­pac­ity could en­cour­age more busi­nesses to set up or re­lo­cate out­side the south­east cor­ner.

“Fast and re­li­able in­ter­net is vi­tal when it comes to run­ning a busi­ness,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

In­no­va­tion Min­is­ter Kate Jones said the move would level the play­ing field.

“You should get the same qual­ity ser­vice as some­one in Bris­bane, for the same price.”

PROGRESS: Steve Bax­ter says the scheme is equiv­a­lent to build­ing the Bruce High­way.

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