FibreCo Queensland was officially launched on Tuesday – the Palaszczuk Government’s answer to providing better broadband in regional areas.
But FibreCo won’t be delivering broadband services – the government says it will offer better backhaul capacity at competitive prices for Retail Service Providers (RSPs) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs); with the goal being better pricing will then also flow on to RSP/ISP customers.
Innovation Minister Kate Jones said FibreCo is about growing businesses, exporting overseas and creating jobs in her state.
“Backhaul” is a term used to describe links between the core network and smaller sub-networks connecting to customers and is usually provided by telecommunications carriers such as Telstra and Optus. A small number dominate the regional Queensland market, where backhaul is particularly pricey – representing as much as 50 percent of wholesale costs, whereas it’s 13 percent in metropolitan areas according to the QLD government.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has identified regional Queensland as among the least competitive internet markets in Australia.
“Picking Up The Slack”
“Internet is vital to small businesses, particularly in regional Queensland – that’s why we’re establishing FibreCo to make best use of assets that are owned by the taxpayer,” said Minister for Small Business Shannon Fentiman. “There’s no denying that the Federal Government’s National Broadband Network has fallen short. We hope this initiative helps to pick up the slack.”
It’s not just small business that it’s hoped will benefit – households in a number of communities should do as well; including those in Cairns, Mackay, Toowoomba, Bundaberg and Rockhampton. All going well, up to 600,000 regional households and businesses could see improvements claims the Palaszczuk Government.
Last month, Queensland Budget 2019/20 earmarked $3.87 million in 2019/20 for FibreCo – $4.73 million was provided at the end of the last financial year.
FibreCo Queensland will set up its headquarters at The Precinct in Fortitude Valley, which will be operational from August. The entity will be jointly operated by Powerlink Queensland and Energy Queensland.
“Powerlink is very proud to see FibreCo established as a company,” said the company’s Chief Executive, Merryn York. “We’re looking forward to establishing strong relationships with telecommunications customers to provide cost-effective backhaul in support of regional communities.”