Sunshine Coast Council has begun seeking formal expressions of interest for partners to build a new submarine telecommunications cable for Australia’s east coast.
The council earlier this year funded a feasibility study into the proposed cable.
“Council is looking for expressions of interest from suitably qualified providers who want to partner with council to deliver this critical project,” Mayor Mark Jamieson said in a statement.
The council is open to expressions of interest in relation to three components: The cable itself, the cable landing station/data centre, and backhaul from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane.
Currently Australia is connected by four submarine cables that land in Sydney and one that lands in Perth — though more are being built.
“The Sunshine Coast is ... more than 1000 kilometres north of Sydney — meaning that significant performance benefit would be realised by the Sunshine Coast and south east Queensland,” documents released earlier this year by the council stated.
“Because of the distance from Sydney, a location like the Sunshine Coast also mitigates the single point of failure risk that currently exists with all cables landing in Sydney.”
The council has funded studies by EGS into two potential landing locations for the cable: Marcoola and Maroochydore.
“Council had originally contemplated a submarine cable landing for a new International cable that would connect directly from the Sunshine Coast to international destinations. This option requires substantial capital costs and is very unlikely to be commercially viable,” a document released as part of the EOI process states.
“An efficient solution would be for the spur to be built as part of an international cable going to Guam or the US.”
Modelling by GQI Consulting has valued the economic benefits of the cable at $453 million for the Sunshine Coast, and $927 million for Queensland as a whole.
“Sunshine Coast Council, in recognising and acknowledging the risks and potential benefits, has identified the Sunshine Coast as the first viable landing point on the eastern seaboard of Australia, travelling south from Cape York, for a cable that links to Asia and/or to the United States,” Jamieson said.
Jamieson said the cable would create up to 846 local jobs.
“This is not only a game-changer for us, but the entire state,” the mayor said.
The council said it has lodged documents with the Australian Communications and Media Authority requesting initiation of a declaration for an offshore cable protection zone.
EOI submissions close on 10 January, with the council expecting to announce preferred partners early next year.