The Queensland government has launched a new state-owned backhaul provider that it hopes will provide a boost to broadband services available in regional areas.
FibreCo Queensland will be jointly operated by utilities Powerlink Queensland and Energy Queensland.
The state government in December revealed its plan to create FibreCo, which will be able to leverage around 6000km of publicly owned optical fibre to deliver backhaul services to telcos.
The government foreshadowed the creation of the venture in a submission last year to a federal parliamentary inquiry looking at the roll out of the NBN in regional Australia. That submission argued that an absence of affordable backhaul was acting as a barrier to investment in regional parts of Queensland by retail service providers (RSPs).
“Prioritising backhaul and Point of Interconnect (POI) infrastructure in regional and rural areas will create opportunities for RSPs to provision 'last mile' services and help accelerate the delivery of improved digital services,” the document said. The move would also potentially offer a boost to mobile communications in regional areas, the government argued.
The state budget, handed down last month, said the government planned to spend $8.6 million over two years to launch FibreCo.
The government said today that Energy Queensland company secretary Jane Nant and Powerlink chief executive Merryn York have been appointed as FibreCo board members, with an independent chair and independent directors to “be confirmed in coming weeks”.
“We’re unlocking thousands of kilometres of government-owned fibreoptic cable right around the state and partnering with the private sector to make this infrastructure available to ordinary Queenslanders,” said innovation minister Kate Jones.
“Internet is vital to small businesses, particularly in regional Queensland – that’s why we’re establishing FibreCo to make best use of assets that are owned by the taxpayer,” said small business minister Shannon Fentiman.
“There’s no denying that the federal government’s National Broadband Network has fallen short. We hope this initiative helps to pick up the slack.”
FibreCo will establish its office at The Precinct in Fortitude Valley from August, the government said.