Tas Labor pushes free Wi-FI, Bass Strait fibre study

Pre-election promises by the ALP also include a commitment to "maximise open data platforms and services"

Tasmanian Labor this morning unveiled a tech-heavy assortment of policies ahead of the 15 March state election, including a study into more optical fibre across Bass Strait, a fund for free Wi-Fi hotspots and a commitment to open data.

Its headline policy is offering NBN Co free access to the infrastructure of the state-owned electricity provider, Aurora.

The Labor Party says the offer is worth $25 million over 20 years. The intention is for NBN Co to use Aurora's power poles to string fibre, as opposed to running fibre underground.

The leader of the Tasmanian Liberal Party, Will Hodgman, has indicated he supports the aerial deployment of fibre in the state.

Labor's has pledged $1.5 million for a feasibility study into laying a second electricity cable across Bass Strait. The party said today it would commit to assessing the feasibility of including optical fibre in a second cable.

Currently Tasmania is linked to the cable via two Telstra cables and the Basslink electricity cable, which includes optical fibre. In order to provide a redundant link to the mainland, ISPs need to purchase backhaul from Telstra.

Labor said an additional will encourage increased investment in the ICT sector in the state.

The party also committed funding to building 50 Wi-Fi hotspots that would offer free wireless Internet access at a number of tourist destinations.

In addition to spending $250,000 building hotspots in areas such as Cradle Mountain, Mount Wellington and Port Arthur, Labor would create a $250,000 fund for local councils to build public access hotspots. The fund would offer "dollar-for-dollar" support for public Wi-Fi infrastructure.

Labor is committed to maximising "open data platforms and services."

"Labor will direct each government agency to identify additional data sets with potential to be of value to the public and ask them to develop strategies to increase transparency," states the policy package, titled Technology to Drive Tasmania's Future.

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