THE demand for housing and rentals in regional Queensland could soar even more under a plan by telco giants and businesses to spruik the region as a COVID-19 escape zone.

Cairns is one of 85 regional centres to receive a business fibre zone, with NBN Co in town on Thursday to promote the opportunity to businesses.

NBN Local general manager Chris Cusack has described the service as a "game changer" for regional businesses, who could achieve upload speeds of up to one gigabit per second as well as more reliable internet.

The west Cairns and CBD NBN Business Fibre Fibre Zones.
The west Cairns and CBD NBN Business Fibre Fibre Zones.

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The business grade services are being offered at a discount of about 67 per cent so local firms can pay about the same as they would if they were in Brisbane's CBD.

Some Queensland business leaders in have described "data as the new coal", with firms able to set up anywhere high-speed internet services are available.

Advance Cairns executive chairman Nick Trompf said one of the biggest challenges in regional areas was the cost of providing services.

"The investment NBN is making, the flat prices the NBN is providing, takes away one of those barriers," he said.

 

The areas highlighted on this map are part of the northern Cairns NBN Business Fibre Fibre Zone.
The areas highlighted on this map are part of the northern Cairns NBN Business Fibre Fibre Zone.

 

 

NBN, as the wholesaler, has not detailed prices for the services, saying that would be determined by internet service providers.

But Mr Cusack said there had been "huge interest" from local businesses.

NBN is investing $700m around the country to support business innovation with plans for 240 different business fibre zones.

The tech provider cited a new survey showing how COVID-19 had accelerated consumer behaviour shifts.

The survey showed many southerners were envious of what the Far North had to offer - lots of green space, less traffic and the ability to work from home if decent internet is available.

Almost half of those surveyed had dreamt of relocating, while 79 per cent were now more inclined to do so having seen the ability to work from home during COVID-19.

 

 

The Port Douglas area NBN Business Fibre Fibre Zone.
The Port Douglas area NBN Business Fibre Fibre Zone.

 

According to the survey:

• 87 per cent of Far North Queenslanders believe the local community will benefit if more people move to the area after the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Of those who believe the community will benefit, 75 per cent think it will keep small businesses viable and 55 per cent believe it will increase employment opportunities.

• 91 per cent of people in FNQ agree that having a more flexible lifestyle allows them to focus on what really matters in life, like their family and overall wellbeing.

The demand for property and rentals across Queensland has surged enormously with vacancy rates in some regions lower than 0.5 per cent.

Interstate buyers are buying properties online without even inspecting them in person, with some paying above the asking price.

Originally published as Speed zone: Why even more southerners might move to Cairns


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