The South Australian Labor party is promising ultra-fast internet across metropolitan Adelaide if it is re-elected next month.
The city will become “the home of Australia’s fastest internet” if Labor returns to power, the party committing to a $35 million expansion of the state’s fibre network across the city.
“It will enable thousands of businesses and households to connect to ultra-fast internet that is many times faster than the National Broadband Network and significantly cheaper,” State Premier Jay Weatherill and Minister for Innovation Kyam Maher said in a joint statement today.
The infrastructure – to be known as The Fishbone – will be made available to internet providers to offer the faster and cheaper services. The result will be speeds “up to ten times faster than the NBN” Labor said.
Providers and the community will also be invited to take part in a roundtable to “secure a better internet deal for South Australians”.
“The internet is an essential service that all South Australians deserve access to, regardless of their income,” Weatherill said. “Labor believes internet is an essential service, and we’re stepping in where the Federal Liberal Government has failed, by delivering the fastest, cheapest internet speeds in the nation.”
In August, the state government launched its $7.6m GigCity broadband network in Adelaide, based on fibre rolled out for the South Australian Broadband Research & Education Network (SABRENet). The network is operated by local ISP EscapeNet.
Using the US city of Chattanooga – ‘the city that was saved by the internet’ – as a guide, the expansion of the network is expected to create around 3,000 new jobs across multiple industries.
“We’ve already attracted the likes of Boeing and Technicolor to South Australia, and this investment in ultra-fast internet will allow us to attract even more exciting businesses, nurturing digital skills and creative minds here in our state,” Weatherill added.
The party will establish a Department of Digital Innovation to oversee the GigCity network expansion and develop a digital inclusion plan “to narrow the digital divide in South Australia, ensuring all members of our community can fully participate economically and socially”.
“Labor is standing up for South Australia and by providing access to our state-owned infrastructure, we’ll work with service providers to make fast, affordable internet a reality and improve digital equity for all,” Weatherill said.
No specific policy regarding the internet or NBN could be found on the SA Liberal campaign website’s policies page.
The Liberals in the state are, however, committing to provide a $10 million fund to address mobile black spots across South Australia, which will be supported by contributions from telecommunications companies “to deliver new and upgraded towers to priority black spots” in regional and remote areas.
SA Best, the political party led by former federal senator Nick Xenophon, has vowed to boost funding for regional telecommunications to $30 million to “improve mobile phone and internet services”.
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