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April 17, 2020

QCN Fibre first to connect to Sunshine Coast cable

QCN Fibre will be the first network operator to connect to the 550km Sunshine Coast branch of the JGA South cable system.

The Queensland cable has the first landing station on Australia’s east coast outside of Sydney, QCN CEO Derek Merdith (pictured) told CommsDay. QCN is the State Government backed backhaul provider that is using the fibre assets of Powerlink and Energy Queensland.

Most telcos eschew the approach of “build it and they will come,” Merdith said. “Our strategy is perhaps the opposite in that we need to expand the infrastructure to allow things to happen, not for something to happen first and then build-in later.”

“It’s part of our commitment to help develop the infrastructure in Queensland,” the CEO added.

QCN has signed an agreement to connect to the Sunshine Coast cable, which was developed by the Sunshine Coast Council in partnership with RTI Connectivity. The telco expects to offer services over the cable by July.

Construction of the $6.6 million landing station was completed late last year. The 7000km JGA South lands in Sydney and Guam.

The consortium backing the cable includes AARNet and Google, and the project has been led by RTI.

RTI’s chief executive Russ Matulich said that COVID-19 had increased the significance of optical fibre connections for trade, education, and communication. The CEO said that the Queensland cable branch was an alternative to Sydney’s crowded cable corridor and provided “wet diversity”.

The CEO applauded the state government’s support for the new infrastructure. “Their investment in an international broadband submarine cable network is the first of its kind, rivals or exceeds any across the country, and has put Queensland squarely on the global map of key undersea cable interconnection points,” Matulich said. “It shows tremendous foresight brought about by exceptional leadership.”

Merdith said QCN is already generating revenue from backhaul services based on Powerlink’s fibre. “Powerlink always provided backhaul services to a lot of the major telcos,” he said. “But part of the QCN model was to assign that revenue to QCN Fibre so that then, as a telco, we can manage the backhaul for those customers — not have a power company managing backhaul for telcos.

“We already have infrastructure out there and we are already delivering services. Now the next step is we’re expanding the network by connecting up Energy Queensland fibre and building out the network with new edge equipment as well.”

“We’re rolling out services into Warwick and Goondiwindi, and we’re working on rolling out services into Townsville,” the CEO said. “We’re connected to all the NBN regional POIs, so we’re a long way ahead of perhaps what people think.”

QCN’s board signed off on a pricing strategy for backhaul two weeks ago, and the CEO said the focus is now on building up the company’s customer base.

“Today was month three for me. We are still very new, but we are hitting the ground running,” he added.

QCN is building out its sales team and is “very much in growth mode”.

“We’re now starting to begin the rollout of the new edge equipment, which will give us the uplift to provide the capacity we need,” he added.

“It’s part of our commitment to help develop the infrastructure in Queensland,” the CEO added.

QCN has signed an agreement to connect to the Sunshine Coast cable, which was developed by the Sunshine Coast Council in partnership with RTI Connectivity. The telco expects to offer services over the cable by July.

Construction of the $6.6 million landing station was completed late last year. The 7000km JGA South lands in Sydney and Guam.

The consortium backing the cable includes AARNet and Google, and the project has been led by RTI.

RTI’s chief executive Russ Matulich said that COVID-19 had increased the significance of optical fibre connections for trade, education, and communication. The CEO said that the Queensland cable branch was an alternative to Sydney’s crowded cable corridor and provided “wet diversity”.

The CEO applauded the state government’s support for the new infrastructure. “Their investment in an international broadband submarine cable network is the first of its kind, rivals or exceeds any across the country, and has put Queensland squarely on the global map of key undersea cable interconnection points,” Matulich said. “It shows tremendous foresight brought about by exceptional leadership.”

Merdith said QCN is already generating revenue from backhaul services based on Powerlink’s fibre. “Powerlink always provided backhaul services to a lot of the major telcos,” he said. “But part of the QCN model was to assign that revenue to QCN Fibre so that then, as a telco, we can manage the backhaul for those customers — not have a power company managing backhaul for telcos.

“We already have infrastructure out there and we are already delivering services. Now the next step is we’re expanding the network by connecting up Energy Queens- land fibre and building out the network with new edge equipment as well.”

“We’re rolling out services into Warwick and Goondiwindi, and we’re working on rolling out services into Townsville,” the CEO said. “We’re connected to all the NBN regional POIs, so we’re a long way ahead of perhaps what people think.”

QCN’s board signed off on a pricing strategy for backhaul two weeks ago, and the CEO said the focus is now on building up the company’s customer base.

“Today was month three for me. We are still very new, but we are hitting the ground running,” he added.

QCN is building out its sales team and is “very much in growth mode”.

“We’re now starting to begin the rollout of the new edge equipment, which will give us the uplift to provide the capacity we need,” he added.

At the moment, QCN is relying on the legacy SDH equipment that was previously managed by Powerlink. It is rolling out WaveLogic gear from Ciena, which will enable it to supply “multiple one gig, 10 gig, 100 gig and 200 gig services.” That rollout is expected to be completed in July.

Update as at 15 July, 2020: This service delivery date has been deferred to September 2020 due to COVID related delivery delays.

The company has also inherited a lot of Powerlink’s business systems but while using them it is also building out new systems from scratch.

 

Article in Communications Day – 17 April 2020 – Reporter: Rohan Pearce