The Queensland Government will use 6000km of state-owned fibre optic cable to boost internet connectivity and potentially lower prices for more than 600,000 businesses and households around the state.
Following a commitment during the 2017 election, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the government will set up a new entity — ‘FibreCo Qld’ — to partner with internet service providers.
Ms Palaszczuk said FibreCo Qld would use the extra capacity on the state-owned fibre optic network to offer faster, more reliable internet to homes and businesses in regional Queensland.
“Fast and reliable internet is vital when it comes to running a business,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“And by using the government’s fibre optic network, we can provide significantly greater capacity than what’s currently available in regional Queensland.
“Currently, Telstra and Optus dominate the wholesale market in regional Queensland, and this makes it harder for new players to get on the scene.”
Queensland Minister for Innovation, Kate Jones, who will oversee the project rollout, said internet connectivity was vital to growing the regional Queensland economy.
“We also know that by helping businesses to be more connected, we’ll create more and more jobs in regional Queensland,” she said.
“For too long, regional Queensland has been getting a raw deal. The Federal Government’s NBN has been an unmitigated failure.”
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found that regional Queensland has some of the least competitive internet markets in Australia.
Ms Jones said opening up the government-owned fibre network was about levelling the playing field and encouraging competition to help deliver better quality internet for people and businesses in regional Queensland.
Regional areas where FibreCo Qld will work to provide faster, more reliable internet include:
“Increasing competition in the backhaul market will lead to more internet service providers entering the regional market. This will create more competition and lead to better services for Queenslanders,” Ms Jones said.
Former telecoms entrepreneur Steve Baxter, who advocated strongly for the project during his time as Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur, welcomed the announcement, saying it would have a transformational effect for businesses in more remote areas of the state.
“Freeing up state-owned assets to increase the capacity in an underutilised backhaul market will lead to great outcomes for Queensland,” he said.
“Without access to cheap, fast backhaul network, it’s hard to have a competitive market.
“This announcement changes the game. I wholeheartedly commend the government for this action and look forward to it being put into practice.”
FibreCo Qld will work with internet service providers to connect parts of the state-owned optical fibre network to the National Broadband Network (NBN) in key regional areas.
This will then enable existing and new NBN retail service providers to acquire much better backhaul capacity at very competitive pricing.
The backhaul will also be provided to other smaller telecommunications providers to provide alternative improved services to NBN in certain regional areas.