I wonder whether other states have a similar capacity, but it seems the electricity system in Queensland has a fibre optic network with plenty of spare capacity. They just strung it out on the poles, and presumably use it to run the electricity network.
During the recent election campaign I heard Steve Baxter, the Chief Entrepreneur, say that a decision had been made to open the fibre network to businesses in regional towns, which would give them internet speeds equivalent to those in Brisbane CBD. He rated it as the most important piece of state infrastructure since bitumen roads.
On the weekend there was an article in the Sunday Mail (probably pay-walled) which said the facility was already available to businesses on a commercial basis, and could provide an alternative for residents only reachable via satellite in some towns.
Queensland Chief Entrepreneur Steve Baxter said the plan was a game-changer.
“The capabilities this could bring to regional Queensland are unmatched anywhere in the world. It’s about time this project happened,” said Mr Baxter, who made his fortune from developing optical fibre networks to serve businesses in Australian cities.
The article goes on to say that PIPE networks, the company Baxter co-founded with Bevan Slattery, sold to the TPG group for $373 million.
The plan was for the government to sell optical fibre infrastructure to service providers who would then sell plans to the public.
The effort is intended to lower prices for regional Queenslanders through increased competition. Smaller internet providers would be able to use the state-owned fibre networks to offer residential services.
- The plan has the potential to let regional residents switch from satellite or fixed wireless NBN services to fibre-to-the-home.
Energy Queensland’s network runs from “Tweed Heads up to the Torres Strait, and from Brisbane across to Birdsville”.
Queensland chief entrepreneur Steve Baxter said the effort would let local providers “get on and do what NBN [Co] has not”.
“This will allow regional connectivity back to Brisbane at a lower cost than inner city equivalent services,” he said.
This item went under the radar during the election campaign, but is to be found in pp 83-85 of the Labor platform.
It seems to me that this initiative will have major implications for the official NBN in regional Queensland. I can see it as being of major import to businesses located in central business districts in Queensland’s cities and towns. Hard to see how the homes in suburbs would be connected.
However, the connectivity should be a major boost to businesses in the regions, especially small innovative enterprises looking to sell niche products and services to the world.
During the election campaign I heard no mention of the Advance Queensland initiative, or innovation generally, most of the campaign being sidetracked into Adani, which was basically irrelevant, and the prospect of the LNP having to get into bed with One Nation, which was. Advance Queensland has a surprising genesis. This is from the Courier Mail in December 2016:
Speaking about the Palaszczuk Government’s Advance Queensland initiative, which was yesterday revealed to be spending millions of taxpayer dollars to fund YouTube stars and untested businesses, [former premier Campbell] Newman said it was “good for Queenslanders”.
The research used to design the Advance Queensland policy was commissioned and produced when Mr Newman was in power.
But, speaking in The Sunday Mail, Shadow Innovation Minister Tarnya Smith said it had “failed to live up to the hype and expectations” and was not “of any benefit to Queenslanders”.
However, Mr Newman, who now works in innovation and start-ups, disagreed with his former party.
Advance Queensland was launched by the ‘do nothing’ Palaszczuk government in July 2015, five months after being elected. The initial $40 million funding has now become $420 million.
Steve Baxter is the second chief entrepreneur and from March at 2017 headquarters was established at The Precinct, in Fortitude Valley’s historic TC Beirne building, where there is now an Innovation Hub which is positioning Queensland as a global startup hotspot.
The TC Beirne building is an old department store in the centre of a precinct simply known as “The Valley” in Brisbane. It’s where back in the old days Russ Hinze, the “Minister for Everything” could not see sex parlours and gambling dens hidden in plain sight.
Here’s a story of a happy entrepreneur CRiskCo CEO Erez Saf, who already has offices in Tel Aviv and Silicon Valley, and who took up an offer of up to $100,000 in equity grant, access to free co-working space for six months, and a ready-made network of mentors and business advisors (which he probably didn’t need):
in fact this is the pitch that the Queensland government has been using to convince international and interstate startups to relocate to the sunshine state for a minimum of six months under the Hot DesQ program launched as part of the $420 million Advance Queensland initiative.
Seems we have good talent in Australia in particularly data scientists:
“If you’re here [in Australia] you don’t understand how much harder it is outside. If go out there to find a data scientist in San Francisco, it’s almost impossible.”
The access to the network that exists between universities, government, and industry – from banks, insurance, and even mining – has also made the Australian market appealing, according to Mr Saf.
There are more stories at Advace Queensland’s Latest News site.
Along the way I picked up this item:
- A $50 million centre to develop drone and robotics technology for the Defence Force will be built in Queensland.
The Palaszczuk Government today welcomed the Federal Government decision to back Queensland’s bid to host the Defence Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Trusted Autonomous Systems.
It will be a national facility that develops technology like drones and robotics for the Army, Navy and Air Force.
There are 6,500 people working in the defence industry in the state, and in 2015-16 Queensland companies were awarded more than $4.2b in Australian defence contract payments.
Sounds better than building subs. More importantly there are things we can do other than dig up coal, and it seems a thousand flowers will bloom if we plan the right ecosystem.