Regional Queensland will get faster and cheaper internet using the state-owned fibre optic network.
The tech scheme will utilise spare capacity along 6000 kilometres of fibre-optic cable, which was installed to service state-owned corporations.
A new state-owned entity called FibreCo will be set up to lease the capacity to internet retail service providers from mid-next year.
More than 600,000 homes and businesses from the Sunshine Coast to Cairns, through cities like Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and smaller surrounding towns, will benefit from the internet boost.
The network also stretches inland as far as Emerald, Roma and Toowoomba.
Consumer prices will be set by internet service providers.
Innovation Minister Kate Jones said it would “level the playing field” for people who live in these communities.
“Today we balance the playing field for regional Queensland when it comes to the internet,” she told reporters on Sunday.
Former telecoms entrepreneur Steve Baxter, who advocated for the project during his time as Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur, said the “game changing” announcement would make it cheaper to run a business in the regions.
“It’ll drive down the cost and drive up the quality, which is fantastic,” Mr Baxter said.
“It’s the most important project since we paved the roads in this state.”
Ms Jones said it would grow the regions and create jobs, increase competition and lead to more internet service providers entering the regional market.
“We want to make sure that people in regional Queensland get the same access to the internet that people in south-east Queensland take for granted,” she said.
The government said FibreCo would work with internet service providers to connect parts of the fibre optic network to the National Broadband Network (NBN).
It would then enable existing and new NBN retail service providers to acquire better backhaul capacity.
The backhaul would also be available to smaller telecommunications providers to provide alternative improved services to NBN in some regional areas.
“For too long, regional Queensland has been getting a raw deal. The federal government’s NBN has been an unmitigated failure,” Ms Jones said in a statement.
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said she would “naturally support” any measure that improves the lives of regional Queenslanders.
“But the devil’s always in the details,” she said.
“You can’t trust Labor with IT.”