Pictured at the TECC Conference Booth at LGAT 2008 Conference, left to right – Dr David Anderson, Mark Carrington TECC and Premier David Barlett)
The Premier’s vision is for a Tasmania that is “clever, kind and connected.”Once fully implemented, the TBDP will consist of an optic fibre network, linking the four main cities of Hobart, Launceston, Devonport, Burnie and the various municipalities.
Integral to achieving that connectivity is the Tasmanian Broadband Development Program (TBDP) – a Tasmanian government strategy which the TECC is assisting with as part of the Federal government’s Clever Networks progam, now underway to increase broadband access across the state and ensure Tasmania is fully equipped to participate in the digital economy.
The explosive growth of electronic commerce, combined with rapid changes in the information, computing and communication sectors, means that before long the digital economy will impact on almost every aspect of Tasmanian life. Preparation and forward planning are therefore critical.
The digital economy has the ability to drive efficiency, productivity and innovation across all sectors, so the way we act now will directly influence the future economic aspirations of the state.
A primary objective of the TBDP is to stimulate all the opportunities that can be realised using the existing fibre optic backbone network – particularly where the business case for improved internet services may be insufficient to attract commercial suppliers.
Meanwhile Dr David Anderson, Tasmania’s Broadband Project Manager from the Departement of Economic Development and Tourism and Mark Carrington, Tasmania’s new Broadband Project Officer (located in the Tasmanian Electronic Commerce Centre Pty Ltd ) have been working closely with local Councils to progress broadband priorities at community and regional level. There is a need for all levels of government to work collaboratively on this issue. David and Mark have so far held meetings with 15 of the 29 local Councils to examine ways to extend high and very-high capacity broadband services across regional Tasmania through existing infrastructure services or future network rollouts.
In regional areas, the TDBP project team has been working closely with local government, given its role as the primary community service provider and infrastructure manager.
Local government is well-placed to encourage the growth of broadband through the provision of affordable broadband services. It is also in a good position to install open access, wholesale broadband infrastructure as part of new and existing water, sewer, natural gas and underground power developments using technologies including satellite, fibre optic and wireless loop to name a few.
The key to success however is establishing guidelines for the coordination of broadband infrastructure so that local government can develop relevant planning regulations and operational guidelines for infrastructure providers. This will open up tremendous opportunities for the state’s local government sector through extending its own on-line service delivery. It will also reduce the cost of service delivery and lead to efficiency and productivity gains in other areas too.
The TBDP project team has completed an initial broadband audit of Tasmania which details the actual take-up rates of broadband in Tasmania in regional and rural areas and identifies priority areas that the TBDP will focus on through until June 2010.
Those Councils visited include:
Meander Valley Council, Launceston City Council, Break O’ Day Council, Northern Midlands Council, Kingborough Council, Burnie Council, Huon Valley Council and Northern Midlands Council. Meetings have also been held with regional economic development bodies Cradle Coast Authority and Northern Tasmania Development. So far the response has been very encouraging and the potential broadband development opportunities from those municipalities visited, is now being collated.
David, Mark and members of the project team also attended the LGAT 2008 Conference in Launceston in June where they set up a stand and hosted the Premier David Bartlett at the TECC/TBDP conference booth. Their key message to Councils was they need to start thinking about and planning for the introduction of broadband now. Where developments involving optic fibre conduit are to be laid in existing open trenches for example, the lead times on planning for such developments can be significant.
A prime example of good planning and cooperation is the TransCentral project at Westbury. Westbury is a significant, vibrant, and well established economic centre in the Meander Valley. The Meander Valley Council, local developers, and land holders have recognised a potential opportunity exists to develop a major transport hub at Birralee Road adjacent to the Tasmanian Alkaloids site.
The site has excellent linkages to the state’s arterial road network. Reticulated gas is available and the development of a green-field site offers significant opportunity for the proper planning and layout of a future industrial estate. Sufficient space is available to provide an engineered network of roads, the integration of infrastructure including ‘high’ and ‘very high’ speed broadband communications, the positioning of buildings, provision of landscaping and management of any adverse impacts of industrial activity to the site.
The vision is “to create a sustainable logistics-based industrial precinct, capable of 24/7 operations adjacent to the Tasmanian Alkaloid plant, capturing and using the growing heavy vehicle traffic volumes of the bass highway and Birralee main road, involved with forestry and agricultural production.”
Meander Valley Council and Aurora Energy are exploring options for new power supply requirements to the Westbury Transport hub site and further opportunities to provide fibre optic cable along the proposed route are being investigated.
The TBDP is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Clever Networks Program and is managed by the Tasmanian Government through the Department of Economic Development and Tourism and the Arts in association with the TECC.