Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman has today announced that he will go ahead with his plan to put fibre through the city's sewer network to give 100Mbps speeds to residents within four years.
Following the recent successful trial of the technology in Brisbane's sewerage system by i3 Asia Pacific, Newman said the company would begin rolling out the fibre network early in 2011.
"I think this is one of the biggest infrastructure developments in Brisbane's history and will enable us to meet our goal of becoming a new world city," the Liberal National Party lord mayor said in a statement. "Putting the fibre optics through the waste-water pipe network means Brisbane residents can get super-fast broadband without unsightly cables hanging from their power poles or trenches dug along their streets."
Newman said that i3 would become the wholesale owner of the network and would provide access to telecommunications retailers to sell to customers.
Newman said that the Federal Government's $43 billion National Broadband Network may take years to roll out to Brisbane and that he was not prepared to wait.
"The i3 Asia Pacific proposal involves no cost to ratepayers and can happen now, whereas the NBN program has no firm timetable for a roll-out across Brisbane," Newman said.
"I support everyone getting access to high-quality internet; however, the NBN has not put the needs of Brisbane on as high a priority as we would like and we didn't want local residents and businesses to be left behind in the 20th century."
In a clear attack on the Tasmanian Government's recent move to make the NBN service opt-out in its state, Newman said it was up to Brisbane residents to determine if they wanted to sign on.
"This is a voluntary scheme, there will be no opt-out deals or compulsion to force people onto this scheme," he said.
Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said he looked forward to seeing more details on the proposal, and highlighted that, just like the NBN, the lord mayor's plan was going ahead without a cost-benefit analysis.
"We note this proposal has not been subject to a cost-benefit analysis or a detailed implementation study," Conroy said in a statement. "[Newman's] proposal clearly disputes [Shadow Communications Minister] Malcolm Turnbull's claims that people living in cities already have adequate broadband."
"The National Broadband Network (NBN) will provide a genuine, wholesale-only open access network which will maximise the benefits of competition for consumers," the minister added. "The NBN will deliver affordable high-speed broadband for all Australians, not just those in metropolitan areas."