Monday’s Queensland Budget 2019/20 earmarked marked millions for the state’s FibreCo broadband connectivity backhaul initiative.
The FibreCo Qld project has been hanging around for a couple of years and resulted from a 2017 election commitment made by the Palaszczuk Government. It involves the use of spare capacity on 6,000 kilometres of state-owned fibre optic cable to boost internet connectivity for hundreds of thousands of households throughout the state; with a focus on regional Queensland. It seems there’s quite a bit of spare capacity, with up to 50% available in some areas.
Areas to benefit include Toowoomba, Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns. It’s expected up to 600,000 households/businesses could see improvements.
FibreCo Qld will work with internet service providers and be jointly owned by Powerlink Queensland and Energy Queensland, both state-owned entities. Its intention is to increase competition in regional areas, resulting in better and a wider range of broadband services through the provision better backhaul* capacity at competitive prices for providers – and hopefully that better pricing will then also flow on to their customers.
As for how much cash the Queensland Government is kicking in to get things moving along, a 2019-20 Budget paper notes:
“Delivering on our election commitments, the Government is providing additional funding of $8.6 million over two years to make high speed and low cost internet available to regional Queensland.”
$4.73 million is being provided in 2018/19 (current year) and $3.87 million in 2019/20.
Minister for Innovation Kate Jones said FibreCo wasn’t just about better broadband for households and businesses, but also about creating jobs.
“We recognise that it’s impossible to run a successful small business in some parts of the state without a strong, reliable internet connection,” stated Minister Jones. “That’s why we’re introducing this Australian first to give Queensland businesses a leg up.”
FibreCo was expected to be operating by the middle of this year – so, around now. It won’t be a personnel-intensive concern, with only a handful of staff to work for FibreCo Qld – just 6.
You can learn a little more about FibreCo Qld here.
*The term backhaul refers to links between the core network and the smaller sub-networks that connect to customers.