- Last updated:
- 26 May 2016
Sunshine Coast Council plans to link the region directly to global communications systems in Asia, the Pacific and the United States.
Council has lodged a submission with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to start the process to declare an offshore cable protection zone. If the zone is declared, this will encourage the private sector to deliver an international submarine broadband cable connection that would land at the Sunshine Coast.
If the cable protection zone is granted and the cable is delivered, the Sunshine Coast will be the only regional centre in Australia able to offer direct international broadband connectivity to global markets.
View the video which explains this project.
The Sunshine Coast will be the closest digital connection point in Australia to the leading markets of Asia and the United States. This offshore cable will connect directly with global networks and link to Australia’s land networks like the National Broadband Network (NBN).
Currently, there are only five international cable connections into Australia – four within a short stretch of coastline in Sydney and one into Perth. This means the entire eastern seaboard’s data connections with the rest of the world occurs through the four cables that land in Sydney. Queensland links to these connections through land-based cables that have been damaged in the past, which causes major disruptions to business productivity and the community throughout the State.
With a cable protection zone in place and a submarine cable installed, Queensland will no longer rely on these land connections to Sydney for its data needs. And, at a national level, the Sunshine Coast will be playing its part in addressing a major national risk – because, with the existing four cables in Sydney located so close together, they could all easily be damaged or disrupted at the same time.
The Sunshine Coast is in one of the best possible locations on the east coast of Australia to provide a new cable landing point because:
- of the topography of the coast line
- of the topography of the marine environment (we are clear of the Great Barrier Reef and regulated port areas) and
- this region has a significant population centre which is far enough away to make the cable landing here a viable alternative to those in Sydney.
If this protection zone is achieved and the cable is delivered:
- the region’s economy and our attractiveness to new businesses will change profoundly – and forever
- it will provide milli-seconds of advantage and significantly improved speed and bandwidth from Queensland – all from the Sunshine Coast. Milli-seconds are integral to banking and finance operators, digital solutions developers and those businesses and industries that are heavily reliant on online transactions
- businesses locating near the cable landing point will achieve a significant commercial advantage – so many will want to locate here rather than other regional centres
- the greater speed and bandwidth will also transform the capacity of our university hospital to undertake remote diagnostics and clinical treatments. The hospital will also be able to gain direct access to some of the world’s leading health and medical research institutes
- all of south east Queensland – in fact the whole State - will be advantaged by an international connection from the Sunshine Coast as it will no longer need to rely on the land-based connections to Sydney and the price, speed and bandwidth will be improved and
- the opportunity to market the Sunshine Coast as a place in which to invest and operate a business will be exceptional.
Council has had the impact of the proposal independently modelled by the AEC group.
The modelling forecasts that delivering an international submarine broadband cable connection to the Sunshine Coast will generate an additional $700 million to the Sunshine Coast economy every year and $1.1 billion annually to the State’s economy.
Where to from here
Council has lodged its submission with ACMA for assessment.
If ACMA accepts the submission, it is required to undertake a full regulatory assessment process as part of considering whether to declare a cable protection zone.
This process includes extensive public consultation and all stakeholders will have the opportunity for input. The cable route will be defined to minimise impacts for the shipping, commercial and recreational fishing and dive industries.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has identified Sydney as a vulnerable single-point-of-failure for Australia – with too many cables located in the same pathway and going to the same access points.
While a new submarine cable brought ashore on the Sunshine Coast will provide faster, more reliable and affordable broadband connectivity for Queensland, it will also provide redundancy for the whole east coast of Australia in accessing the internet and the broader telecommunications market, in the event the cables connecting Sydney are damaged or disrupted.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has also confirmed the Queensland Government's full support for Council’s submission to ACMA.
For more information, please contact Greg Laverty, Council's Director Economic Development and Major Projects, at email@example.com.