Brisbane’s Lord Mayor Campbell Newman has announced he will not wait for the NBN and build its own network under a deal with UK company i3, which he claims will take just four years.As suggested in previous reports, the fibre-optic network will be installed in the city’s wastewater pipe network from next year. The aim is to connect up to 15,000 homes a month.
UK-based i3 Asia Pacific has sold the idea to the Lord Mayor and says it will provide home and businesses with access to 100 megabits-per-second broadband, akin to the Labor Government plans.
The plan is for i3 to act as a wholesaler, providing broadband capability to existing telecommunication retailers, including Telstra and Optus, in competition with the NBN Co network.
An i3 statement says the technology will make Brisbane Australia’s first “fibrecity” with all homes and businesses potentially having access to 100Mbps broadband within four years. However there will be no opt-out provision, leaving doubts as to how many homes might actually sign up.
It is also not clear how individual household connections will be made from the buried sewer lines. However pictures on the i3 Web site show a cable emerging from the ground and connecting to a simple box on the outside wall of a house.
“Work on the fibre-optic network will start in early 2011 and will be delivered using the group’s proven low-cost methodologies which include the use of existing ducts such as the sewer system, and microtrenching to lay the fibreoptic cables,” said Elfed Thomas, CEO of i3 Group.
He claims that by the end of 2013, the i3 Group will have connected almost one million UK homes with broadband capable of supporting speeds of up to 1Gbps on an open-access wholesale basis. The company has also completed trials in the USA.
Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said he looked forward to seeing more details on the i3 proposal – and noted that, just like the NBN, the Lord Mayor’s plan was going ahead without a cost-benefit analysis.