The Labor Party-led South Australian Government plans to pump $35 million into a major expansion of the state’s existing optical fibre broadband network across metropolitan Adelaide – if it is re-elected at the next state election.
A joint statement from the offices of South Australia’s Premier, Jay Weatherill, and Minister for Innovation, Kyam Maher, claimed that the resulting network, to be renamed ‘the Fishbone’, would be “many times” faster than the National Broadband Network (NBN), and significantly cheaper.
The $35 million investment pledge comes as the state Government expands Adelaide’s “GigCity” high-speed fibre optic network, which is being delivered by local internet service provider (ISP), EscapeNet, to 15 new precincts in the South Australian capital.
The $7.6 million GigCity network went live in August last year, after EscapeNet won the contract for delivery of the network following an extensive tender and evaluation process which began in December 2016.
“Where we have rolled out our GigCity network, it has delivered speeds 20 to 100 times faster than previously available at these sites, ten times faster than the NBN – and at least 50 per cent cheaper,” Maher said.
The incumbent Labor Government also said it would, if re-elected, establish a new Department of Digital Innovation to oversee the expansion of the Fishbone network and work to attract new businesses that rely on high-speed internet to the state.
The proposed Department will also be tasked with developing a digital inclusion plan aimed at narrowing the digital divide in South Australia. This will include the establishment of a roundtable of the community sector, government and business.
“Labor believes internet is an essential service, and we’re stepping in where the Federal Liberal Government has failed, by delivering the fastest, cheapest internet speeds in the nation,” Weatherill said.
Weatherill’s attack on the Federal Government over its own nationwide broadband rollout strategy is not the first time the South Australian leadership has locked horns with the Liberal-National Coalition-led administration that currently leads the country.
A war of words emerged between Weatherill and to-ranking members of the Federal Government after it blamed South Australia’s statewide blackout in 2016 on its renewable energy stance – which had been at odds with the Federal Government’s own policy on renewables.