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Ultra-fast internet plan to “future-proof” Adelaide’s CBD


Lord Mayor Martin Haese wants the Adelaide City Council to work with businesses and the State Government on an ambitious plan to deliver ultra-fast broadband for the CBD and North Adelaide.

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Haese says Adelaide could follow in the footsteps of small US town Chattanooga, which used up to 10-gigabit per second broadband connections to turn its ailing economy around.

The council will tonight consider a proposal to add 10GB/s broadband – 500 times faster than the fastest broadband connection currently available in Adelaide, ADSL2+ – to its list of ambitions in its 2016-2020 strategic plan. It would be up to 100 times faster than can be currently delivered by the National Broadband Network’s fibre connections.

Haese told InDaily he wanted Adelaide to be the first Australian city to dramatically improve its internet speeds in line with cities in the US.

“The City of Adelaide is seeking to work with the State Government and key stakeholders to differentiate Adelaide and build a 10 gigabit-capable optical fibre network in our city,” said Haese.

“This would be an Australian first and place Adelaide at the forefront of the digital and innovation economy and deliver real benefits to our local residents and businesses.

“Over 150 cities in the USA are moving toward building 10 gigabit optical fibre networks for their city.”

He said the council’s ambition for Adelaide was to “follow in Chattanooga’s footsteps and create a city that will attract driverless cars research, lifesaving tele-health tools, 3D print technologies, film production, gaming, medical image diagnostics, software development and big data”.

Adelaide University senior lecturer in telecommunications and multimedia engineering Dr Matthew Sorrell told InDaily 10GB/s internet “would be in demand increasingly over the next decade”.

He said the NBN’s fibre network could theoretically deliver up to 10GB/s in the future, but it would need to upgrade its equipment at the ends of the fibre, and there were alternative providers of the optical fibre needed to deliver ultra-fast internet speeds through to the city.

Haese said internet speed would be a powerful tool to attract businesses and residents to the CBD and North Adelaide.

“The 10 gigabit infrastructure will future proof Adelaide and enable the use of next-generation broadband that, overseas, has become a magnet for entrepreneurs, start-ups and folks working in tech-savvy and creative industries.”

If endorsed at tonight’s meeting (and confirmed at a full council meeting next week) the council’s updated strategic plan will feature a commitment to “work with key partners to deliver a 10GB per second capable broadband network across the City and North Adelaide to all premises”.

The commitment would replace the current wording: “By 2016, commission a business case through the NBN ‘Technology Choice Program’ for optical Fibre To The Premise (FTTP) as the new standard of infrastructure”.

However, central ward councillor Houssam Abiad told InDaily it was role of business and higher levels of government – not the council – to spend money on internet infrastructure.

He said the council should instead offer to help internet service companies by providing in-depth, up-to-date schedules for minor upgrades to infrastructure, so they could time the installation of internet cables underground most cost-effectively.

“The role of council will be more so to advocate than to invest in infrastructure,” Abiad said.

“I much prefer us investing in the current infrastructure and assisting [businesses].”

He said internet service providers should contact the council for assistance with their own investments.

Abiad said the council’s only investment in internet infrastructure to date had been the AdelaideFree city WiFi network, which had not met expectations.

“I really had high hopes for our WiFi network,” he said, citing complaints from residents and city visitors that the network was slow, and frequently cut out.

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