Looking for fibre backhaul?

Looking for tower co-location?

Looking for
tower co-location?

Looking for
fibre backhaul?

Queensland-government owned backhaul provider QCN has significantly expanded its infrastructure arsenal. QCN, which has quietly moved away from its former QCN Fibre branding, will now offer access to some 20,000 towers and colocation facilities across Queensland.

The towers are courtesy of a new agreement with publicly owned energy transmission utility Powerlink Queensland, the 51% owner of the telco. The sheer scale of the new facilities puts QCN in rarefied territory: Amplitel is said to maintain some 8,000 sites, Australia Tower Network combined with Axicom some 4,300 and BAI some 752 sites.

QCN was established in early 2020, initially wholesaling access to the fibre infrastructure of Powerlink and Energy Queensland. According to QCN it has driven a tenfold increase in delivered capacity across the 13,000 km fibre deployed by the two utilities. QCN has also expanded its footprint beyond the Powerlink and Energy Queensland fibre.

“This announcement marks a key expansion in QCN’s capability,” said QCN CEO Derek Merdith. “We will now manage the licences to rent space on towers and structures on the transmission network, as well as communications sites across Queensland.” A small proportion of the towers currently house customers, including telcos and air, maritime and emergency services, Merdith told CommsDay. He said there had been a positive reaction from those existing customers.

“It’s the same experience as when we started: We’re a telco, behaving like a telco, accessing power company assets. So the response has been very positive when we’ve communicated that message to the current customers.”

The CEO said that utilities have generally made their excess capacity available passively. For Powerlink and other energy companies, “their core business is power”. “It’s a win-win in that it’s non-core for Powerlink, it’s core for us,” he said.

Powerlink “understands our mission breaking down the digital divide,” Merdith said. He said that the deal would mean QCN would be able to support “cost effective market expansion” for ISPs delivering services into regional Queensland.

The CEO said: “Wireless backhaul and wireless in-fill services are essential components to expand QCN’s network coverage. The capacity that QCN is now delivering across its fibre network exemplifies how better utilisation of existing government assets can benefit Queenslanders, and in particular regional Queenslanders.”

“We are applying the same thinking with Powerlink’s tower and colocation infrastructure,” he added. “If we can utilise just some of the 20,000+ towers across Powerlink’s network, we can be the catalyst to dramatically improving and expanding telecommunications services to underserved areas, particularly in regional Queensland.”

“Working together with QCN to leverage Powerlink’s fibre assets has already benefited Queenslanders in providing improved access and service availability,” said Powerlink CEO Paul Simshauser.

“Providing QCN access to available tower and co-location facilities is the next logical step in expanding that collaborative approach and investment in regional Queensland for the future.”

QCN cited wireless backhaul, 5G network extension, mmWave coverage and neutral host solutions as examples of some of the services that the infrastructure could support.

The telco said: “In the capital constrained telecommunications industry, investment in tower infrastructure can be prohibitive, particularly for smaller, regional telecommunications organisations. QCN will now have access to a pool of existing towers, enabling cost effective market expansion into regional Queensland.”

The telco also said that the announcement was aligned to the Queensland government’s State Infrastructure Strategy.

As appeared in Communications Day – 5 September 2022 – commsday.com