The federal government's plans to build a $4.7 billion national fibre to the node broadband network (NBN) could be stopping one of Queensland's newest cities from getting fibre to the home.
New city Springfield, 25 kilometres south west of Brisbane has become more connected than many. The planners, Springfield Land Corporation, have built an open access 72-core fibre link from the Brisbane CBD to the Springfield CBD with help from Pipe Networks, as well as hooking up corporate towers and the new Polaris datacentre which houses tenants such as Suncorp and the Queensland Government.
There has been a lot of interest from carriers wanting to provide services to these commercial tenants according to Mike Andrea, external CIO for the Springfield Land Corporation and director of IT consultancy Strategic Directions, however, residential connectivity has been a different kettle of fish.
The Land Corporation would like a carrier to jump in and connect residences directly with fibre, Andreas said, saying that of the 105,000 planned for the city, 16,000 of the residences already built and connected via copper had complained of connectivity issues.
Since the city was still being built, fibre could be laid at the same time as the streets were, Andrea said, which could reduce costs of network roll-out by 40 to 50 per cent.
The fish haven't been biting however. The pitch, "You know what? See that forest over there? We're going to build a city," hasn't held a quick enough profit for the carriers, Andrea said, who want to see returns after three to five years.
"They say: 'Show us the clients'," he said, adding: "The carrier will build it when it's needed." However, building after the streets are finished will mean higher roll-out costs, Andrea said, making fibre to the home just as unaffordable as everywhere else.
It hasn't just been the carrier's return cycle which has been stymieing Andrea's plans for a digital city. "Carriers which could deliver those services won't invest because they don't know how we are going to come out of the national broadband network," he said.
With the date to receive proposals for the government's fibre to the node network pushed back until the end of the year, a plan won't be emerging soon. Around three families a day will be moving into the city over the next 12 to 18 months, into residences that will have copper if an agreement can't be reached.
Andrea admitted that the Corporation could organise the build like it did the link between Springfield and Brisbane CBD, but said NBN uncertainty would dog it as it would the carrier's build.