Brisbane is set to become the nation’s first city to have super-fast fibre optic broadband running through its sewage pipes.
Work on the fibre optic network would start in early 2011 at no cost to ratepayers, Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman announced on Thursday.
Mr Newman said the infrastructure would not double up on the federal government’s National Broadband Network (NBN).
“We wish to have no disagreement with NBN (but) as the mayor of Brisbane and as a person serving one million people in this city I want them to get this infrastructure now,” Mr Newman told Brisbane reporters.
Mr Newman said he had approached NBN officials about adopting this technology, whereby fibre optic cables are fed to homes through sewerage pipes.
The NBN officials told him that they already had a deal with Telstra but that he was welcome to go ahead with his plan, he said.
“NBN has said consistently that as long as you have an open access fibre infrastructure, they won’t come in on the top of you and I hope that would be the case,” Mr Newman said.
Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the federal government welcomed the Liberal lord mayor’s recognition that fibre-to-the-home was the future technology for Australians, despite opposition to the NBN from federal coalition MPs.
Multinational company i3 Asia-Pacific has promised to provide the technology within four years, with plans to roll it out to 15,000 homes a month.
The i3 group’s CEO, Elfed Thomas, announced it would cost the company about $600 million to roll out the network compared with the $43 billion NBN project.
Mr Newman said every residential and commercial street had a sewage pipe.
“The little cable will snake its way up the 9500km of sewers in Brisbane just outside people’s front doors, and they have the technology to get it out of the sewer without impacting on the
operation of the sewer and run it into the premises,” he said.
“So it cuts down this huge cost of digging up streets and laying down conduits.”
The scheme is expected to provide broadband speeds of up to 100 megabits per second, which would allow large files like movies or video conferences to be downloaded or streamed in seconds.