10Gbps fibre-optic network to be provided by South Australian government

Adelaide businesses could be enabled by an existing fibre-optic network that's 10 times faster than the NBN, thanks to the state government setting aside AU$4 million for the project.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

The South Australian government will set aside over AU$4 million in its state budget to use an existing fibre-optic network jointly owned by the state government and universities in order to provide up to 10Gbps broadband network for Adelaide businesses.

According to the government, which is due to present its budget next week, such a network would provide speeds that are around 10 times faster than those available to premises in Adelaide on the federal government's National Broadband Network (NBN).

The fibre-optic network will be rolled out to "selected locations", with South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill saying the high-speed broadband will drive significant opportunities for economic development and job creation, with hopes that it will embed the state as a leading centre for innovation.

According to NBN's three-year construction plan, no area in South Australia will receive a fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) connection between October 2015 and September 2018. Instead, most premises will be connected by slower-speed fibre-to-the-node (FttN), hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC), or fixed-wireless technology.

FttN connections provide speeds of up to 100Mbps, although NBN said G.fast technology should increase this to around 500Mbps; HFC customers see average speeds of 84Mbps, although NBN is hoping DOCSIS 3.1 technology will enable 10Gbps speeds in future; and fixed-wireless users max out at 50Mbps down and 20Mbps up.

An internal draft document leaked in February from NBN also alleged that the high-speed broadband rollout is seriously delayed and costing more to connect each premises, showing that for design approved throughput, South Australia was 4,665 premises short of its 7,610 target by the date of the report.

"Action plans from NSW, WA, SA, and Tas will be required to ensure mid-May return to budget will be achieved," the document noted.

The Australian Labor Party has said that if elected during the July 2 federal election, it will reinstate FttP for an additional 2 million premises once the current FttN contract commitments have been fulfilled, although it has not revealed what areas will get FttP.

Labor had previously admitted that it could not go back to its full FttP policy after the Coalition imposed its multi-technology mix NBN, with Shadow Communications Minister Jason Clare last week saying: "I've made it clear that we can't click our fingers and go right back to 2013 ... it's hard to put Humpty Dumpty back together."

As a result, Labor differentiated itself from the Coalition's policy by expanding the FttP footprint, with the result that it will cost AU$3.4 billion more and take longer.

"Under Labor, the rollout of HFC (PayTV) will continue, recognising the contracts in place, the substantial capital expenditure already sunk, and the constraints placed on future governments by Mr Turnbull in the revised Definitive Agreements," Labor said in its NBN policy [PDF].

Total funding for the NBN would be capped at AU$57 billion under Labor, with the party stating this cap will have priority over extending FttP to more homes.

With AAP

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