Faster internet speeds for Queensland as undersea cable confirmed
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Faster internet speeds for Queensland as undersea cable confirmed

A "game-changing" submarine fibre optic cable that will emerge from the sea at Maroochydore will provide Australia’s fastest internet link to Asia and its second-fastest link to the US.

State Development Minister Cameron Dick and Sunshine Coast mayor Mark Jamieson announced on Friday that tech giant RTI Connectivity and the Sunshine Coast Council will build the 550-kilometre undersea cable into the Sunshine Coast by 2020.

The undersea fibre optic cable that would run into the Sunshine Coast, providing Australia's fastest telecommunications connection to Asia.

The undersea fibre optic cable that would run into the Sunshine Coast, providing Australia's fastest telecommunications connection to Asia.

That spur runs from the 9600 kilometre long undersea cable from Sydney to Guam being built by Google, RTI Connectivity and AARNet.

The Sunshine Coast had pushed the project for four years because data traffic from Australia was expanding 40 per cent each year, Cr Jamieson said.

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“This game-changer will transform the Sunshine Coast and open up enormous opportunities for Queensland,” he said.

The cable will connect to a hub at Sun Central at Maroochydore and link Queensland to the 9600km Japan-Guam-Australia South (JGA-S) submarine cable being built.

From Guam the undersea cable will connect to the SEA-US cable system between south-east Asia and the US.

The project, backed heavily by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, was established after years of planning by the Sunshine Coast Council, helped by state and federal authorities.

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2015 backed the plan to bring Australia's newest fibre optic cable into the Sunshine Coast.

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2015 backed the plan to bring Australia's newest fibre optic cable into the Sunshine Coast.Credit:Tony Moore

The move was significant for Queensland because all Australian undersea telecommunications cables at present run into Sydney and Perth, Mr Dick said.

“The reality is only a small volume of international telecommunications is delivered via satellite, with 95 to 99 per cent of Australia’s internet needs serviced by a limited number of undersea cables coming into Sydney and Perth," Mr Dick said.

Four of Australia’s undersea telecommunications cables came into Sydney – from Japan, the US and New Zealand – while the fifth ran into Perth from Asia.

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"This is a risk and a limitation for Australia’s internet connectivity and its commercial data centre capacity.”

RTI-C chief executive Russ Matulich said Queensland businesses simply needed faster internet access.

“The Sunshine Coast cable is in an outstanding location because it provides physical diversity – a new location into Australia – which is a high priority for government and commercial reasons," he said.

“This new path will deliver traffic into and out of Australia faster than the Sydney route because it is geographically closer to mainland China and Hong Kong, where there are over 1.1 billion people, to Japan where there are several hundred million people, and to the west coast of the United States where big companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon are located."

Australia’s average internet speed of 11.1 megabits per second ranks it 50th in the world, according to Reuters in August 2018.

The project could add $927 million to the state economy and provide 864 jobs on the Sunshine Coast.

Cr Jamieson said the value of the Sunshine Coast's $35 million investment could not be understated.

Sunshine Coast ratepayers would benefit from a financial arrangement the council had set with the consortium, Cr Jamieson said, with the council receiving a revenue stream from customers accessing the cable network.

He said the Sunshine Coast Council believed the telecommunication link would lure large data companies to its Sun Central business centre now under construction at Maroochydore.

The 58-hectare Sun Central business district would include a high-tech data park and Google representatives came to the Sunshine Coast earlier this year and met with the Queensland government after difficulties in finding a site in Sydney.

Queensland’s 2018 budget included $15 million to help the Sunshine Coast Council put the final tender together after three years.