The Queensland Government is considering plans for a broadband rival to the NBN
The Queensland Government is considering plans for a broadband rival to the NBN

Qld government to replace federal government's failed NBN

REGIONAL Queenslanders will be able to access cheaper, more efficient internet under State Government plans for a broadband rival to the problem-plagued NBN.

The Government will look at making available space capacity on optical fibre networks used by state-owned corporations such as Energy Queensland to boost connectivity for thousands of families.

The publicly-owned network stretches more than 4000km up the coast - through cities such as Maryborough, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns.

It reaches as far north as the resort town of Port Douglas and inland to Toowoomba, Roma, Charters Towers, Cloncurry and Mount Isa.

The plan was an election campaign promise that went under the radar.

Former Innovation, Science and Digital Economy Minister Leeanne Enoch, who set the plan in motion before switching to the Environment portfolio in last week's Cabinet reshuffle, said it would boost competition.

"Providing access to this extra capacity offers an opportunity for smaller, local internet service providers to enter the market, increase competition and drive down prices for regional Queenslanders," she said. Ms Enoch said it was a response to "skyrocketing complaints about the high cost and low reliability" of the NBN.

The NBN rollout has been a letdown for many Australians.
The NBN rollout has been a letdown for many Australians.

The number of complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman from Queenslanders about internet services leapt 42 per cent to 28,988 in 2016-17.

"We cannot address the disastrous rollout of NBN under the Turnbull Government, but we can see what spare capacity we have to give better, cheaper and faster internet access to support regional Queensland to grow," Ms Enoch said.

The move could mean many people who would have to use the NBN's satellite service could instead opt for a superior fibre connection.

The move could also be a useful money-maker for the State Government, selling access to its under-utilised existing optical fibre infrastructure to service providers who would then sell plans to the public.

Government-owned spare fibre is already used to provide broadband services to industry under commercial deals.

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.

PIPE networks, the company he co-founded with Bevan Slattery, sold to the TPG group for $373 million.