Gold Coast announces AU$10 million fibre broadband expansion

The City of Gold Coast is adding more areas to its fibre broadband network under an additional loop at a cost of AU$10 million.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

The City of Gold Coast has announced that it will be spending AU$10 million to add a 37-kilometre loop to its fibre-optic broadband network as part of its Digital City Program.

The expansion of the city-owned broadband network should provide AU$2.5 million through cost savings in addition to the revenue being made by wholesaling the network to retail service providers.

The new loop will provide coverage to Broadbeach, Burleigh, Varsity Lakes, and Robina, Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said, with the city also now investigating additional areas south and north of the city to connect at a later date.

Gold Coast chief innovation and economy officer Ian Hatton said the fibre network -- currently a 65km network running between Helensvale and Broadbeach that cost AU$4.5 million to deploy -- will "support accelerated deployment of 5G".

"We're developing a low-latency, high-core-count fibre optic network that has the capacity to deliver the fastest internet speeds in Australia. When finished, the network will be 100 times faster than what exists today," Hatton said.

As a result of hosting the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, the Gold Coast is the first area in the nation to have a live 5G network courtesy of Telstra, as well as a trial 5G network from Optus that ran during the event.

The Queensland government had in April revealed that it was undertaking due diligence to assess whether it can provide capacity on its own fibre-optic network ahead of the limited fibre provision of the federal government's National Broadband Network (NBN).

According to the state government's submission to the to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network's rural and regional rollout inquiry, it is also encouraging the uptake of "competitive" non-NBN fixed-wireless services in areas that are not yet ready to connect to the NBN.

"The Queensland government has committed to undertake a due diligence assessment of the viability of providing access to spare capacity in the Queensland government's optical fibre network to improve digital connectivity for Queenslanders," the submission said.

The City of Adelaide is also building out its own fibre, in June announcing that more than 1,000 buildings have already registered to receive the 10Gbps fibre network.

The city has yet to announce which 1,000 buildings will be connected by the Ten Gigabit Adelaide network, which is being built by TPG. Around 500 other businesses have additionally registered their intent to join the network once it is rolled out.

Adelaide was scant on details of the deployment of the network, however, saying the "masterplan" is "now being finalised and a delivery schedule is being developed".

In March, the City of Adelaide had announced that the Australian Institute of Business would be the first building on the network, with the project set to connect 1,000 buildings in its first two years.

"In a recent independent report, the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies puts the quantified productivity and efficiency benefits of Ten Gigabit Adelaide in the range of AU$16 million to AU$76 million per annum," the city said in December.

"Once in place, the network will benefit nearly all industries including the creative sector, health and wellbeing, finance, defence, advanced manufacturing, information management, and cybersecurity. It will underpin future innovation in areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence, way-finding, 3D printing, and augmented reality."

According to the city, the installation of the 10Gbps service could create up to 2,500 jobs over the next six years, as well as retaining current jobs there.

Adelaide's GigCity 1Gbps network was launched in August last year, with South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill at the time calling Adelaide one of the "most connected cities" in the world.

The government in June selected EscapeNet to be the internet service provider for its one gigabit network, and set aside AU$2.9 million over four years in its state Budget to extend the network into more areas.

Adelaide's 10Gbps network was originally allocated AU$4 million in the state Budget back in June 2016 to provide an alternative to the NBN.

The NBN currently maxes out at 1Gbps on its fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) network, though it is adding gigabit-capable technology DOCSIS 3.1 on hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) and G.fast on fibre to the curb (FttC).

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