HyperOne: Australia's $1.5 billion solution for nationwide connectivity

11 February 2021 | Melanie Mingas

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Australia is getting a AU$1.5 billion, hyperscale national fibre network courtesy of tech entrepreneur Bevan Slattery.

HyperOne is billed as the "first true private national fibre backbone project" to connect Australia, and the largest private digital infrastructure project in the country's history.

Covering more than 20,000 kilometres once complete, it will be capable of carrying over 10,000 terabits per second and is expected to create 10,000 new jobs during construction.

Bevan Slattery said: “HyperOne will be a new generation of hyperscaled network, capable of carrying more traffic than every other national backbone built in Australia’s history, combined.

“The current networks have served Australia well for the past 20 years, but they are nearing the end of their useful life and they were designed for a different time. All the existing national transmission networks were built back when there was no Youtube, Netflix, social media, iPhones, or even cloud, let alone the future industries," he continued.

Existing networks are also unable to bridge the digital divide in remote and regional Australia. Opening up affordable connectivity for people and businesses in these areas, more than 1,000 “on-ramps” will be added for underserved communities.

Across Australia, HyperOne will support industries such as cloud computing, data centres, environmental sciences, space vehicle launch, aerospace, satellite, defence as well as provide transmission to local distribution networks such as the National Broadband Network (NBN) and mobile operators.

The HyperOne project office has already begun discussions with the National Broadband Network, the Northern Australian Infrastructure Fund, telecommunication companies, various market participants as well as the Federal Government and state governments.

“HyperOne is big, bold and way overdue,” said Slattery.

“HyperOne will be the first true private national fibre backbone project connecting major data hubs in every capital city in every state and territory across Australia. It will also create new major interconnection points for more international undersea cables into Australia from Asia and as far as the Americas and Antarctica.

“With the current geopolitical instability in the region there is unprecedented opportunity for Australia to become the region’s leading, secure and stable hub for future industries and jobs,” he continued.

An online portal has launched for companies to register their interest in partnering or working on the project.

Connecting Australia

Australia has many unique challenges, starting with its size and vast regional areas, which account for most of the country. While 85% of the population lives within 50km of a coastline, it is in the regional areas that the country's most lucrative industries are based, including agriculture and mining.

This dynamic means that coverage has long posed issues and fixed connectivity speeds are significantly behind those seen on mobile.

In Speedtest.net data for December 2020, Australia ranked 61 out of 176 countries for fixed broadband download speeds, averaging 58.83Mbps. Highlighting the disparity between mobile and fixed services, Australia came fifth for mobile out of 139 countries, with average speeds reaching 112.68Mbps.

Federal minister for communications, urban infrastructure, cities and the arts, Paul Fletcher, said: “HyperOne’s planned network would deliver a major boost in data transmission capacity into many cities and towns across Australia, which in turn would open up new economic opportunities, support new industries and generate jobs.”

Slattery, who has previously founded or co-founded Pipe Networks, NextDC, Subpartners, Superloop, Megaport and Cloudscene, has been vocal on the quality of Australia's connectivity for some time, using a LinkedIn post last year to press Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NBN Co chief Stephen Rue, to increase capacity and address the bottlenecks caused by lockdowns.

While nobody could have imagined he would launch a $1.5 billion, nationwide fibre project, the move was somewhat anticipated down under. Two days ago the Australian Financial Review reported that Slattery was "gearing up for a big move" after he "more than doubled" his team at Capital[b] in recent months.

The piece detailed how Slattery has appointed former Credit Suisse Australia exec Evan Kilpatrick, as Capital[b]'s chief investment officer and telco executive Jim Clarke to run SUB.CO, a dark fibre investment.

Capacity will have more on this story soon.