Launceston RSP launches 1Gbps NBN for AU$1,000

Amid claims from RSPs that NBN's CVC pricing is too expensive to offer consumers 1Gbps services, Launtel has switched on gigabit speeds for Launceston businesses for approximately AU$1,000 per month.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Launtel CEO Damian Ivereigh

(Image: Supplied)

Launceston retail service provider (RSP) Launtel has announced the launch of its gigabit-speed fibre broadband across National Broadband Network (NBN) fibre-to-the-premises business connections on Tuesday.

Calling Launceston "Australia's first gigabit city", Launtel said 100 percent of business premises in the city now have access to 1Gbps FttP connections at "commercially viable rates" under its Blue Ocean plans.

Launtel told ZDNet the pricing will be "approximately AU$1,000 per month" for 1Gbps speeds, with the RSP also bundling 10 unlimited calling VoIP phone lines into its offering.

According to Launtel CEO Damian Ivereigh, this is in comparison to gigabit-speed fibre plans in Sydney or Melbourne, which would "easily cost AU$2,000/month".

"We put a lot of consideration into the price, and we decided that it was important to price it at a level such that we could definitely buy enough connectivity to the NBN and back to the main internet where we knew it would perform really well," Ivereigh said.

"We believe it's still good value, based on the productivity increases that medium to large businesses will see from the increased performance of their internet."

Some RSPs have claimed that NBN's pricing structure is to blame for not being able to offer 1Gbps services to customers at an economically viable option, although NBN CEO Bill Morrow last week denied this.

Being able to offer such speeds could lead to more jobs and wage growth in Tasmania, Ivereigh said, citing the gigabit city Chattanooga.

FttP is currently the only network technology able to offer 1Gbps speeds, with FttP already in the process of being rolled out in Launceston and Hobart under Labor's original full-fibre NBN plan prior to the multi-technology mix switch under the Coalition government at the end of 2013.

The remainder of Tasmania was subsequently shifted by the Coalition over to slower-speed satellite and fixed-wireless connections; however, the fallout from this saw both major parties campaign on fibre connectivity for Western Tasmania in the lead-up to last year's federal election.

In June, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield announced that the Coalition would spend AU$18.5 million on replacing satellite coverage for over 2,700 premises in Tasmania with fibre to the node (FttN) in Queenstown, Rosebery, and Zeehan, and fixed-wireless for Strahan in mid-2017; while Labor's NBN policy said the West Coast of Tasmania would receive a AU$29 million "fibre link".

Independent Tasmanian candidate Jacqui Lambie had similarly said Tasmania would become a "Gig State" under JLN leadership.

"The JLN supports fibre to the premises rolled out to every residential and business premise, much like the Gig City, Chattanooga, Tennessee," Lambie told ZDNet last year.

"This is the vision I have for Tasmania: To become the Gig State ... I want to see no latency, thus encouraging greater investment, entrepreneurship, and advanced technology."

Fifield had also previously said there is a "fibre option" for those living in Tasmania thanks to NBN's technology choice program, which offers Australians a pure fibre alternative if they pay an application fee, a field quote fee, and then the cost of installing the fibre, which NBN said could average AU$4,300 per premises.

"In north-west Tasmania, local calls for fixed-line broadband are already being considered through NBN's existing technology choice policy," Fifield argued last year.

One Tasmanian council did consider the option last year; however, it then declined to upgrade two regions from FttN to FttP due to the cost, adding it would also be requesting a refund on the AU$10,000 fee it was charged by NBN for the analysis.

NBN's estimate for the Tasmanian council had said that between AU$2.75 million and AU$3.3 million would be needed to upgrade the Westbury and Hagley region, and that it would cost AU$2.2 million to AU$2.75 million to upgrade Hadspen and Traveller's Rest.

As well as making use of NBN's Tasmanian fibre connections, Launtel will also utilise TasmaNet's network -- which earlier this week said it is additionally rolling out an Internet of Things (IoT) network across 95 percent of the Tasmanian population by the end of the year in partnership with Thinxtra.

TasmaNet's IoT network will be rolled out across up to 55 of its towers by the third quarter of 2017, with the telco also supplying access to its Tasmanian network, backhaul, engineers, and Hobart datacentre.

The network will enable the use of smart metering, temperature probes, and GPS trackers for such use cases as agricultural and utilities.

Telecommunications provider Telstra has also been working with networking giant Ericsson to deploy a Cat M1 IoT network across the country, with one trial under way to collect data from sensors at Pooley Wines in regional Tasmania, including leaf wetness, soil moisture and temperature, rainfall, solar radiation, and wind speed and direction.

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