Improving Australia’s digital connection from the Sunshine Coast
The Sunshine Coast is taking a leading position as a major urban and economic centre in Australia.
We are outperforming the majority of other regions in Queensland and indeed, most regions nationally.
Now, Council is taking an even bolder step to take us on a journey to become a truly 21st century global region by lodging a comprehensive submission with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to commence the process to declare a submarine cable protection zone off-shore from the Sunshine Coast.
If the zone is granted, this will facilitate private investment in Australia’s newest submarine broadband cable connection to the rest of the world – landing right here on our Sunshine Coast.
We would become the closest digital connection point in Australia to the leading markets of Asia and the United States.
There are currently only five international cable connections into Australia – four within a 30km stretch of coastline in Sydney and one into Perth.
If the cable protection zone is declared and the submarine cable infrastructure is delivered, the shape of our region’s economy and our attractiveness to new businesses will change profoundly – and forever.
It will provide milli-seconds of advantage and significantly improved speed and bandwidth from Australia – all from this point on the Sunshine Coast.
Milli-seconds might not seem much, but they mean a lot to banking and finance, digital solutions developers and those businesses and industries that are heavily dependent on online transactions.
Locating near the cable landing point provides a significant commercial advantage for these businesses and industries.
The greater speed and bandwidth will also transform the capacity of our university hospital to undertake remote diagnostics and clinical treatments, with direct access also available to some of the world’s leading health and medical research institutes.
This benefit is not confined exclusively to the Sunshine Coast – with all of south east Queensland advantaged by an international connection from the Sunshine Coast.
That said, the impact on the marketability and value proposition for the Sunshine Coast alone, as a place to invest and operate a business, will be astounding.
No other regional location in Australia will be able to offer what we can in terms of digital connectivity to global markets.
Council has had this independently modelled and the economic benefit is palpable.
The AEC group has forecast that the delivery of a broadband submarine cable connection to the Sunshine Coast will generate an additional $700 million to our economy every year and $1.1 billion annually to the economy of Queensland
Furthermore, Queensland will no longer need to rely on a terrestrial connection to Sydney for its data needs.
This is a connection that has been damaged on many occasions, causing significant disruptions to business, industry and the community throughout the State.
And at a national level, the Sunshine Coast will be playing its part in addressing a materially significant risk.
At present, the entire eastern seaboard’s data connectivity with the rest of the world occurs through the four cables that land in Sydney.
Federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has identified this as a vulnerable single-point-of-failure for Australia – with too many cables located in the same pathway and going to the same access points.
While we have been working to this point for quite some time, the reality is that this milestone of making our ACMA submission really is only the end of the beginning.
We have a long road in front of us.
Convincing ACMA to proceed to declare a cable protection zone off-shore from the Sunshine Coast and securing the private sector’s investment in the delivery, operation and maintenance of the cable infrastructure.
Our challenge is to convince ACMA that there is no other decision that it can make. That it must support Council’s submission and agree to commence the process to declare a cable protection zone here off the Sunshine Coast.
If there is only one thing that you do this year to advance the interests of this region that you call home, then I ask that it is this.
Take 10-20 minutes to voice your support for Council’s submission for a cable protection zone to ACMA, the Federal Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Federal government.
Do this via email, by social media or even write a letter if you are so inclined and encourage your family, friends and colleagues to do likewise.
We must not let this opportunity pass us by.