Information and communications technology
Tasmania’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector thrives as a result of a number of competitive advantages becoming evident to existing and new business. Tasmania’s unique lifestyle, low traffic congestion, lower property prices and a less transient workforce form the basis for decisions for further expansion in services delivered from the island. In 2013, Vodafone Australia announced it would add an additional 750 employees to its workforce in southern Tasmania; with the likelihood of even further investment in the future. This was one of the biggest single employment announcements in Tasmania’s history.
In 2014, Serco announced it would increase employment at its contact centre in Burnie, taking its employment numbers to 210, while Hobart-based enterprise application specialist, Insight4 announced it would create 60 new jobs after it was acquired by RXP Services Ltd.
Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) was initiated in Tasmania in 2009 with fibre to the premises (FttP) technology capable of delivering super-fast broadband to many homes and businesses. The rollout was fitful for various reasons, but more than 120,000 premises have now been connected.
Businesses like Red Cloud (with a $40 million investment in 2016), TasmaNet and TasNetworks (formerly Aurora Energy) operate data centres to meet the increasing demand for local data-storage. Red Cloud partly attributes its Tasmanian investment decision to the State's relatively cool climate that results in savings in energy used to control temperatures.
Tasmania’s software, application and web development businesses continue to compete on the world stage as a result of a quality stream of intelligent, motivated young people wanting to succeed in the sector. Innovative ICT businesses like Savage Interactive, Blue Rocket, Asdeqlabs, ISW, Bitlink and the Secret Lab continue to win national and international recognition for their products and services.
Before the NBN breakthrough, the Tasmanian ICT sector had been growing at 5 per cent, well ahead of the national growth rate of about 1 per cent.
In 2016, the State Government committed $500,000 to support ICT start-up hubs in the Mercury building in Hobart (now owned by the Detached Arts group) and in Launceston's Macquarie House. A Government spokesperson said the grants were a strategic investment designed to drive economic growth and create jobs. James Riddell, from Bitlink, said: 'I think the hubs are going to be a competitive advantage for Tasmania. We are never going to be Silicon Valley, but what we can do is develop our own niches and our own unique identity.'
The Tasmanian Government engages with the sector through TASICT, the peak body representing ICT businesses across the State.
Facts and Figures
- A professional art-studio app, Procreate, made exclusively for iPad has won a coveted Apple Design Award for Hobart-based Savage Interactive for its technical, aesthetic, and creative excellence. The award, considered an ICT Oscar, recognised Procreate as the most complete software ever devised for digital artwork on iPad.
- Spirit of Tasmania ferry passengers can stay connected during Bass Strait crossings following the introduction of satellite data-streaming services to the two ferries. Consumer data services, including wideband Internet, are delivered alongside telemetry services by a partnership involving Optus Satellite and Electrotech Australia.
- A spokesperson for data centre operator Red Cloud said the company was capitalising on what's known in the industry as free air cooling by locating in Hobart. 'We will consume a lot less power having a data centre in Tasmania than we would on the mainland,' he said.
- Sydney-based ICT business UXC created 50 new customer-support jobs in Hobart following a $1.7 million grant by the Tasmanian Government. Australia’s largest locally owned ICT company, UXC chose Hobart ahead of regional NSW and overseas locations.
- The Tasmanian Government has committed funds to set up free wi-fi in approximately 50 locations across Tasmania.