The dirt block connecting the Sunshine Coast to the world
An old golf course on Queensland's Sunshine Coast is becoming the hub of faster internet connections between Australia, Asia and the United States.
This office on a block of dirt in Maroochydore’s new CBD is where Australia’s $35 million undersea telecommunications cable emerges from the Pacific Ocean.
Australia’s lowly average internet speed of 11.1 megabits per second had it ranked 50th in the world in July.
On Friday, Sunshine Coast mayor Mark Jamieson announced work would start in January 2019 – and finish about six months later – to build the $6.6 million “landing station” for the $927 million new undersea telecommunications cable.
The project began four years ago.
The Australian arm of Ohio-based telecommunications giant Vertiv was awarded the tender to build the "landing station".
The completed cable project, which the Queensland government contributed $15 million to, should begin making connections by mid-2020, according to Cr Jamieson.
"Today’s commitment with Vertiv helps us to ensure the delivery of the international submarine cable connection is on track to be operational in 2020," he said.
Four of Australia’s undersea telecommunications cables come into Sydney – from Japan, the US and New Zealand – while the fifth runs into Perth from Asia.
The Sunshine Coast has lured the sixth south-east Queensland at a time when, according to state Development Minister Cameron Dick, Australia's internet traffic is growing by 40 per cent a year, said State
“Unlike traditional cable landing stations that are normally anonymous nondescript buildings out of view from the general public, our landing station will be designed to reflect the vision for the Maroochydore city centre,” Cr Jamieson said.
“The international broadband submarine cable project will help transform the Sunshine Coast economy and open up enormous opportunities for Queensland.”
Queensland State Development Minister Cameron Dick said the project would create economic "ripple effects" for the state.
"This visionary project will transform connectivity not just for the Sunshine Coast but the whole state,” Mr Dick said.
“Having high-speed communications networks, with greater reliability and capacity, positions us to grow our knowledge-based economy and will result in improved services for all Queenslanders.
“What we will see is a significant long-term ripple effect as a result of this project – unlocking new jobs and industries in our cities and regions."
Documents supporting the full telecommunications project estimate it will create up to 864 new jobs and stimulate $927 million in new investment in Queensland.
Sunshine Coast Council announced in September it would partner with RTI Connectivity to lay a 550-kilometre undersea fibre optic cable to connect the region to the 9600-kilometre submarine cable linking Japan to Guam.
The Sunshine Coast is attempting to diversify its economy beyond its traditional and trades background.
The South East Queensland Regional Plan shows how population and jobs growth predictions for the Sunshine Coast identify the region has strong future growth prospects.
Vertiv’s Australian managing director, Robert Linsdell, said the council was taking “a huge step” towards future-proofing the region.
“The importance of investing in the right internet infrastructure cannot be overstated, particularly as we enter a new era where reliable connectivity will be paramount to all aspects of our daily lives,” he said.
“Having a vision for these new technologies is one thing, but council is going further by making this important investment and bringing its vision to reality.”
The new Maroochydore CBD is being built on the site of the former Horton Park Golf Course, which was shifted in 2015.
It already has included Australia's first underground rubbish removal system, announced in 2016 and has signed agreements with several major companies as the site emerges.