Ultra-fast Internet to “transform” Adelaide’s economy

Ultra-fast Internet connections will be offered to every Adelaide city business in a project that promises to underwrite the economic future of the CBD, reverse the exodus of large corporations since the 1970s and keep young people in the state, Lord Mayor Martin Haese says.

Dec 06, 2017, updated Dec 06, 2017

Haese this morning unveiled what he describes as the most transformational infrastructure project Adelaide has seen in decades – a fibre optic internet network “100 times faster than the NBN” – to be offered to all city businesses with free installation, “competitive” pricing and guaranteed 10-gigabit speeds.

Adelaide City Council has signed a contract with TPG – after two years of planning and negotiation – to allow the Internet service provider free access to the city’s network of subterranean tunnels, to bring fibre optic cable to every business within the CBD’s 1700 commercial buildings that asks for it.

“This is the most exciting and compelling announcement that this city has had in many, many decades,” Haese told reporters at a press conference this morning.

“In the 19th century, it was all about locomotive; in the 20th century it was all about laying our roads – well, in the 21st century, today is all about laying out data networks.

“That’s what makes cities work – that’s what makes cities competitive – is data networks.

“We’re implementing Australia’s first super-fast, cloud-based, data network.”

He said the network would be a boon for Adelaide’s economy, for its global competitiveness and for employment in the CBD.

The number of people employed in Adelaide’s CBD fell by more than 6000 between 2014 and 2016.

“(The project) says Adelaide is open for business, Adelaide welcomes investment and Adelaide is a global city,” Haese said, adding that his council was spending “in excess of $10 million” on the project.

He would not be more specific about the cost for “commercial-in-confidence” reasons.

“This project, partially funded by the city council is something that we can quite easily accommodate,” he said.

“The return to our ratepayers is very, very clear.

“We want to create … knowledge economy jobs for the children of the ratepayers of the city of Adelaide.”

The Ten Gigabit Adelaide network will only be available to business operators in the CBD and North Adelaide – not to residents.

An infographic shows the network’s promised capability. Image: supplied.

The project is distinct from the State Government’s Gig City network, which is only available to research, health and educational institutions, and businesses located at innovation “hubs”, such as the Tonsley Innovation District.

It is also separate from Australia’s National Broadband Network, which has been plagued by complaints about slow speeds and imperfect installations.

TPG corporate, government and wholesale group executive Mark Rafferty told reporters the Ten Gigabit Adelaide network would start to become available to city businesses in the near future.

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“We’re going to be ready to receive orders with a small number of … buildings immediately, and we plan on launching the products that will be available in the next couple of weeks,” he said.

“Every business in this city will (eventually) get its own dedicated piece of fibre.

“This is going to be a network that is based on performance and guarantees … it is available to wholesale telecommunication providers as well.”

He said the ultra-fast connections would be offered at a competitive price.

“We’ve been offering a fibre product across the country that is similar of nature (but) what we’ve done for Adelaide is … we are going to be offering significant scale (and) significant speeds at a really, really cost-effective rate for businesses,” he said.

“It’s going to be imperative to have a guaranteed speed.”

Rafferty said he would like to see the fibre completely rolled out “within a couple of years”.

He added: “We’re probably not exposing the total cost of the network (however) we’re putting a significant about of capital investment in this infrastructure.”

Property Council President Daniel Gannon said the project would help address Adelaide’s high commercial building vacancy rate.

Central Ward councillor Houssam Abiad told InDaily the network would be able to guarantee 10-gigabit speeds to every city business because each will be supplied with an individual fibre cable, unlike other systems where a cable is sent to a building and split among users.

The council unanimously endorsed the project at a confidential meeting last night.

Haese said Ten Gigabit Adelaide would be the most significant achievement of his term as Lord Mayor, and that Adelaide’s notoriously-slow free WiFi network, future smart parking projects and traffic management tools would all benefit from connection to the network.

He told InDaily Adelaide had begun losing head offices from its CBD in and around the 1970s, and that Ten Gigabit Adelaide would help attract big companies back here.

“We lost a lot of head offices in about the 1970s onwards … we want to address that deficit,” he said.

We want to get right behind industries like education, medical, health sciences, research in all its forms, technology … we want (Adelaide) to be a magnet for startups and entrepreneurs, nationally and beyond.

“The overarching vision here is to position Adelaide … as being the most digitally connected city in Australia.”

CEO Mark Goldstone told InDaily Ten Gigabit Adelaide would also create a significant new revenue stream for the council.

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