Launtel launches gigabit-speed NBN in Hobart

Launtel has extended its full-fibre 1Gbps business NBN service to Hobart and is next looking to reach Burnie and Devonport with the hope of turning Tasmania into Australia's first 'giga-state'.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Tasmanian retail service provider (RSP) Launtel has announced the launch of its gigabit-speed National Broadband Network (NBN) service in Hobart as part of its goal to make Tasmania a gigabit-speed state.

"Launtel offers the local business community internet speeds 10 times faster than any other NBN internet service currently available to businesses that have pure fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) connections on the NBN, and 100 times faster than the current national average speed (10.1Mbps)," Launtel said.

Launtel CEO Michael Costigan said the company will next look to offer 1Gbps services in Burnie and Devonport.

"Tasmania has long relied on four mainstays of economic growth: Forestry, mining, agriculture, and tourism. The introduction of gigabit internet adds a new economic driver that offers high wage employment opportunities and environmentally friendly growth," Costigan added.

"It's an industry that firmly places Tasmania at the forefront of the high-tech industry in Australia, and makes it the logical business location for Australian businesses wishing to interact on equal terms with other high-speed economies around the world."

According to Launtel, "various political, economic, and logistical reasons" will prevent other Australian states from having widespread access to gigabit services for the next few years.

"Gigabit connectivity catapults Hobart into an escalating number of gigabit cities that boast the world's fastest internet, including Amsterdam, Moscow, Singapore, Toronto, Barcelona, and fast-growing Hyderabad," Costigan said.

"Tasmania must seize this golden opportunity to claim what is effectively Australia's version of Silicon Valley and become the nation's point of contact for the other gigabit economies around the world."

Launtel had in May announced the launch of its gigabit-speed NBN service for businesses in Launceston with FttP connections, providing "commercially viable rates" under its Blue Ocean plans.

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

This is in comparison to gigabit-speed fibre plans in Sydney or Melbourne, which Launtel said would "easily cost AU$2,000/month" -- although NBN earlier this week unveiled a new spend cap on its business services to allow for lower-cost bundling.

"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," Launtel said at the time.

"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."

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 the 2016 federal election.

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 has seen some end users pay between AU$150,000 and AU$200,000.

"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 that 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 year 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 agriculture and utilities.

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