Fibre optic sharing to create new tech opportunities

Date published: 24 October 2018

Townsville City Council today endorsed a partnership with Australia’s Academic and Research Network (AARNet) and James Cook University (JCU) that will allow each organisation to access the other's fibre optic cables throughout the city.

The agreement will improve Council’s connectivity through Townsville, allow the expansion of free Wi-Fi services, and provide a second high-speed network to the North Queensland Regional Data Centre (NQRDC).

Other benefits could include allowing local schools to use the high-speed internet to conduct virtual lessons with JCU lecturers through video conferencing technology or Aitkenvale Library could be connected to AARNet’s super-fast research network.

The deal also allows both JCU and Council to expand their fibre optic network with almost no costs – as the price of rolling out new infrastructure is high.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said this partnership plays an important role in Townsville becoming a Smart City.

“Being able to tap into AARNet’s internet infrastructure means we will have far more digital more capacity in areas where JCU has an existing physical network,” Cr Hill said.

“By sharing infrastructure we both get more coverage across the city and ability to share whether it’s Aitkenvale Library being able to tap into a high-speed research network or for Council expanding its free WiFi to JCU’s campus.

“Importantly, it will reduce costs for Council because we won’t be required to roll out an expensive fibre optic network anywhere that JCU has existing infrastructure.”

James Cook University ICT Infrastructure Services Head, Swain Kirk said JCU was pleased to be working with Council and AARNet to deliver improved services through the sharing of telecommunications fibre and progressing Townsville’s Smart City Strategy.

“The approach will improve the delivery of services for the Townsville student community by enabling access to AARNets’ Eduroam service from Council libraries, museums and popular areas such as The Strand,” Mr Kirk said.

“The Eduroam service provides the global academic community with access to the internet using their own organisation’s credentials.  Previously only available on university campuses, the remodelling of the service generated through AARnet’s growing collaboration with regional communities has seen the Eduroam service integrating into key community areas of potential learning.

“The collaboration will utilise AARnet and Council shared fibre to access the Eduroam internet service via JCUs links to Brisbane. The three organisations will continue to work closely to further integrate this level of service for the airport and other educational organisations.”

Cr Hill said the deal was also important to facilitate the growth of the North Queensland Regional Data Centre that will help attract new industries to Townsville.

“This will provide extra back-ups by linking in JCU’s infrastructure into the NQRDC, which makes the system even more resilient,” Cr Hill said.

“We want this facility to grow and attract new creative and IT businesses to Townsville – helping provide more job opportunities for locals.”

The North Queensland Regional Data Centre is a partnership with Townsville City Council and James Cook University.