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Project Overview

The Australian Government has provided funding under Round 2 of the Regional Connectivity Program (RCP) to the Queensland Government owned company QCN, to connect high-capacity broadband to towns in the western region of the Mackay Regional Council area. The total funding for the project is $6.02M. 

QCN applied for this funding during 2022 with the full support of the Mackay Regional Council. 

The funding allows QCN, in partnership with Channel Wireless, to deliver a fixed wireless solution with fibre backhaul into the towns of Finch Hatton, Pinnacle, Garrett, Eungella and the surrounding areas of Marian and Mirani. These towns currently only have access to nbnTM Fixed Wireless coverage with extremely poor speeds for downloads and uploads being recorded by locals. The new infrastructure will provide wider coverage and minimum 100Mb broadband speeds. This will effectively provide a 10-fold increase in digital speeds for the residents, schools, businesses and government services in these towns. 

Breaking the Digital Divide

Through this project, we will enable up to 1,550 households* to connect to metro-grade internet services, helping more than 4,500 residents* to access faster, cheaper and more reliable internet.

Households
0
Residents
0 +
Minimum broadband speeds
0 Mb
Increase in digital speeds
0 fold

*2021 Australian Census, ABS

What does that mean for these towns?

The residents in these towns already have access to the internet which provides various capabilities for their small businesses, schooling and recreational activities. 

We are simply strengthening this connection by providing much faster download and upload speeds. 

This provides reliability and speed. For the first time, residents will be able to conduct a video conference with the certainty of stable connection, educators will be able to connect classrooms seamlessly, and a Sunday afternoon streaming session will go by uninterrupted. Moreover, small business owners will become more connected to their customers and the rest of the world with efficient, internet-enabled systems that are consistent in speed. 

This project will benefit more than 4,500 residents, 1,550 households, small to medium-sized businesses, schools, council offices and government services such as Ambulance, Police and Health Centres by providing substantially improved network speeds compared with the existing service. 

“The benefits to the community will be both economic and social, with better access to essential services, improved education opportunities and potential for businesses to grow and meet increasing customer needs. We are pleased, that through the partnership with QCN and Channel Wireless, we can improve our services to the community and keep in step with our urban counterparts.”
Angela Hays
Mackay Regional Council Acting CEO

Proposed Timeline

Project Timeline

Together with our infrastructure partner Channel Wireless, we are aiming to complete this project by June 2024, with construction of infrastructure to commence in March 2024.

What work will be involved?

  1. Ground Fibre: The project will begin with laying fibre in Mackay to establish backhaul connectivity to Brisbane, expected to commence November 2023 and conclude approximately February 2024. 
  2. Towers: After completion of laying new fibre, in each of the towns the local access network and microwave backhaul will be built. This will be a new wireless facility consisting of either a concrete or steel pole, shelter to house cabinets for the radio access network (RAN) equipment, fencing, concrete pad, power supply and distribution board. It is expected this will start in November 2023. 

What is the tower build?

To connect to QCN’s network, QCN is working with Principal Contractor Channel Wireless to build the ‘last mile’ connection to homes, community facilities and businesses in these five towns west of Mackay. 

This means that 23-35m monopole towers will be constructed to provide wireless backhaul access to the internet. QCN will submit Development Applications pending approval for the tower builds in the areas indicated on the map below. All equipment used is compliant with Australian safety standards and codes and is the same kind of infrastructure and equipment that is used all over Queensland.

“…lack of digital connectivity, including both coverage and capacity, across the region is impacting the ability for community members to connect to information and networks for the purpose of business and community activities. Feedback from community members and business owners in the Pioneer Valley confirms the daily impacts the lack of digital connectivity has on the operation of businesses, schools (in class and home schooling) and community activities.”
Mackay Canegrowers

Additional Information

Please visit the Commonwealth Government’s Electromagnetic Energy informations page at: eme.gov.au for more information about 5G and electromagnetic energy, provided by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC).

Additional resources relating to the infrastructure and equipment used for this project can be accessed via the links below.

FAQs

QCN is a fibre optic backhaul wholesaler to Retail Service Providers (RSPs) and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and QCN Channel Partner.

As a carrier-agnostic telecommunications backhaul provider, QCN sells wholesale services to local internet providers, providing local, regional and remote businesses and communities with more choice than ever.

QCN stands for Queensland Capacity Network and we are a Queensland Government-owned Corporation. Our network spans more than 13,000 kilometres of optical fibre, stretching West from Brisbane to Toowoomba and beyond, and North through regional towns up to Cairns.

Our operations improve regional digital connectivity through increasing competition and supporting new investment and jobs in regional Queensland.

The Australian Government’s Regional Connectivity Program (RCP) is a grants program funding the delivery of ‘place-based’ telecommunications infrastructure projects to improve digital connectivity across regional, rural, and remote Australia.

Under Round 2 of the RCP, QCN has secured funding for our team to connect high-capacity broadband to towns in the western region of the Mackay Regional Council area.

Together with our partner Channel Wireless, this new tranche of funding allows for the extension of QCN’s fibre backhaul network and new wireless facilities, including tower structures, RAN cabinets, fencing, concrete pads, power supply and distribution, to be built in each town, enabling wireless broadband services ranging from up to 100Mbps to 1,000Mbps, to businesses and residents of the rural Mackay region.

We applied for this funding with the full support of the Mackay Regional Council.

Find out more about the Regional Connectivity Program by visiting infrastructure.gov.au.

Channel Wireless is a Fixed Wireless Carrier delivering ‘last mile’ connectivity to businesses and underserved regional communities via its network of resellers and service providers. Find out more about our partner by visiting channelwireless.com.

The infrastructure (monopole communications towers) will be built by our project partner Channel Wireless. Channel Wireless will leverage its expertise in deploying wireless solutions in remote areas to deliver the fixed wireless infrastructure to each township. Channel Wireless was the Principal Contractor on the successful Round 1 of the Regional Connectivity Program where they built new telecommunications towers in the Queensland Central Highlands towns of Duaringa and Bluff.

New tower infrastructure and/or the use of existing towers and structures will be built and/or used in the towns of Finch Hatton, Pinnacle, Gargett, Eungella, Marian and Mirani. The exact location of where the towers will be built in the towns will be determined by identifying the ideal sites to ensure the best possible internet speeds for homes and businesses as well as those most acceptable to the community.

The exact location of tower and site will be subject to planning arrangements and approval through Mackay Regional Council.

The physical fixed wireless infrastructures to be constructed in the identified towns in the Mackay Region will be to Australian standards.

The technology being rolled out is the same as standard Wi-Fi, operating well below Australia’s strict safety limits for electromagnetic energy from telecommunications. There are no known adverse health effects from this technology when operating within these safety limits. All of the transmitters will operate below one watt.

Under Round 2 of the RCP, the Australian Government has awarded $5.4M in funding for the Mackay Regional Project, with QCN contributing an additional $600,000, taking the total value of the project to $6M.

Find out more about the Regional Connectivity Program by visiting infrastructure.gov.au.

Speed tests conducted in January 2022 showed extremely poor speeds for local businesses ranging from 1.9Mbps for Download and 0.5Mbps for Upload to 7.0Mbps Download to 6.6Mbps Upload.

The town centres of Marian and Mirani are within the fixed-line footprint. However, on the fringes of this footprint, speeds have been reported at 14Mbps for Download and Upload of 8Mbps. Again, these are considered very poor speeds.

A minimum 10-fold increase in digital speeds for the residents, schools, business and government services in the town can be expected upon completion of the project. This will be at least 100Mbps Download speeds. 

By providing substantially improved network speeds compared with the existing nbnTM fixed service, this project will benefit:

  • More than 4,500 residents
  • 1,550 households
  • Small to medium-sized businesses
  • Schools
  • Council offices, community centres
  • Tourist facilities
  • Government services such as Ambulance, Police and Health Centres

Yes! With the ability for wireless broadband services ranging from 100Mbps to 1,000Mbps, residents and businesses in towns benefiting from this project will be able to far exceed the minimum internet connection speed requirement for most major streaming services, through your fixed internet connection.

If you are using the Wi-Fi on your phone in a residence or business where you have ordered a new service from the Retail Service Provider working with QCN on this project, you will have improved internet speed on your phone. If you are using your mobile phone service provider data, you will not have a faster internet speed.

As it is a fixed wireless network for subscription internet services, it does not interact with how other technologies connect with the internet, such as your mobile phone or other cellular devices.

The fixed wireless infrastructure will have no impact on existing mobile phone coverage and reception in any way.

The fixed wireless infrastructure being built is intended to improve the digital connectivity in the identified regions and improve internet speeds only (i.e. data Downloads and Uploads).

Planning for the design solution commenced in early 2023, and it is expected that the full project will be completed by June 2024.