Queensland wants to build its own NBN

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Queensland wants to build its own NBN

Updated: To boost connectivity for regional communities.

The Queensland government wants to build its own broadband network to rival the NBN in response to complaints about the rollout of the national network, particularly in regional areas.

Complaints about the NBN lodged with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman more than doubled - from 10,487 to 27,195 - in the financial year ended June 30.

Most of the complaints stemmed fron connection delays and unusable services.

The newly-relected Labor state government had made access to wireless and fibre broadband services - particularly for regional communities - a plank of its policy platform prior to the November Queensland election.

"Labor supports the formation of community and industry alliances to aggregate demand and funding for networks that extend the reach of the NBN in regional Queensland," its policy platform states [pdf].

"Labor also encourages major telecommunications carriers, electricity transmission providers and road and rail authorities to cooperate in the development of open access fibre optic and wireless communications infrastructure."

As first reported by the Courier Mail, the state government is now looking at opening up spare capacity on fibre networks used by state-owned corporations like Energy Queensland to get the project underway.

Former innovation and digital economy minister Leeanne Enoch - who recently passed over the portfolio to Kate Jones - has driven the initiative and called it a "potential gamechanger".

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, the government says.

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.

Update 18/12/17: The government has admitted it is in the very early stages of its plan.

It has "started an investigation to see whether there is an opportunity for us to use more than 4000km of fibre optic cable owned by government-owned corporations and open it up to Queensland business and communities", Jones said on Monday afternoon.

The government is also about to start a market-sounding on what the cost of doing so would be, she said.

It is "still working through the feasibility" of which specific corporations would be involved in the plan, however Jones specifically called out Energy Queensland. 

The Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation has been contacted for further detail.

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