Data centre provider Leading Edge Data Centres is the latest Australian company to become an NBN partner, but not in the traditional sense.
The company has signed on to NBN Co.’s wholesale broadband agreement but will not be playing the role of an RSP. Instead, Leading Edge is rolling out new dark fibre infrastructure and new points of interconnect to assist with increased traffic as the new stage of the next stage of network expansion rolls out.
In September 2020, NBN Co. committed $3.5 billion to upgrade some existing FTTN and HFC connections to full fibre. The new agreement will see Leading Edge provide the infrastructure to cope with additional traffic on the network as its regional expansion continues.
Leading Edge said it will aim to improve the ‘digital experience’ in areas underserved by existing broadband providers. The infrastructure will be available to all NBN RSPs through their own WBAs.
The first facility will be rolled out in Newcastle on 2 February, followed by Tamworth and the rest of the company’s facilities across regional NSW, a spokesperson told CRN. Victoria and Queensland will follow later in the year.
The data centres will provide network hub points across the region offering greater choice of network providers and helping to establish greater competition, the company said.
“At present, every digital transaction that happens in Regional Australia must go back and forth to the data centres all located in the major metro cities on the backhaul networks,” Leading Edge CEO Chris Thorpe said in a statement.
“This creates a bottleneck scenario, slowing things down, and compromising the digital experience for regional Australians.
“NBN facilities access will reduce the backhaul bottleneck. We’re already building data centres across the regions bringing the opportunity for content and service providers to deliver services locally, so with NBN opening up that last mile with the local connectivity piece, the entire digital experience – everything from home internet usage to workplace data exchange – will be improved. Content download speed will be faster, and latency will be reduced. This will help to begin levelling the playing field from a digital infrastructure point of view.”
Leading Edge said it expects the rollout to improve connectivity in regional areas and encourage regional migration. The company added that the new infrastructure would “catalyse the trend towards internet of things (IoT) deployment and the enablement of 5G”.
“IoT is driving change in industries such as healthcare, agriculture, construction, logistics, and forestry. But its ubiquity in regional areas has been limited by unreliable broadband connection, which can interrupt data exchange and collection,” Thorpe said.
“By opening up connectivity in regional locations, the alliance could make wider spread IoT usage a viable reality, with significant benefits to these industries and the broader economy.”
Following the rollout in the 14 data centre locations in New South Wales, the company will begin work at its facilities in Victoria and Queensland.