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Gold Coast details fibre and Wi-Fi network expansion plans

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The proposed fibre-optic network for the City of Gold Coast

The City of Gold Coast has announced more details of its fibre-optic network expansion, with the main Central Loop of the project set to be completed this financial year.

In Extension of the City-owned optic fibre network: Contractor Briefing tender documents, the City of Gold Coast revealed that the network will consist of three loops: The Central Loop for FY19 completion; the Northern Loop, to be completed the following year; and the Southern Loop, to be completed in FY21.

The Central Loop would include Miami depot, Miami aquatic centre, Burleigh Heads library, Burleigh Surf Life Saving Club, Burleigh Waters library, Robina library, Robina community centre, Mudgeeraba community centre, Mudgeeraba waste transfer station (WTS), Carrara depot, Nerang library, Molendinar WTS, Molendinar water treatment plant, Waterside West, Waterside East, Karp Court, Nerang Admin Building, Nerang Bicentennial, and Varsity Parade.

It would see the fibre-optic network expanded out to Nerang, Helensvale, Broadbeach, Miami, Palm Beach, Currumbin, and Coolangatta, and north past Coomera towards Ormeau and Jacobs Well.

The City of Gold Coast also revealed that it is seeking a panel of telco specialists to work across seven packages: Broadbeach to Miami; Miami to Burleigh Heads; Burleigh Heads Business Centre; Miami to Varsity; Bond University to Robina; Parkwood to Nerang; and Nerang to Robina.

The Gold Coast will also gain new Wi-Fi zones across Burleigh, Miami, and Nobbys foreshores; Waterside precinct; Cultural precinct; Nerang Admin precinct; Robina community centre; all libraries; and its Health and Knowledge Precinct.

This is in addition to its existing Wi-Fi zones in Broadwater Parklands, Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach, and Coolangatta.

According to the tender documents, the delivery method should combine use of existing conduit networks in parks and roadways; new construction; use of council facilities such as optical transport network outdoor units, lighting and CTTV poles, and toilet blocks; a design change from cabinet distribution to underground access joint; and outdoor cabinets, Wi-Fi APs, and layer 2 network devices.

Project delivery on the Central Loop is set to begin on October 15, 2018, and be complete by June 17, 2019.

The City of Gold Coast had in August announced that it would be spending AU$10 million to add a 37-kilometre loop to its fibre-optic broadband network as part of its Digital City Program.

The expansion of the city-owned broadband network should provide AU$2.5 million through cost savings in addition to the revenue being made by wholesaling the network to retail service providers, according to the city.

Gold Coast chief innovation and economy officer Ian Hatton said the fibre network — currently a 65km network running between Helensvale and Broadbeach that cost AU$4.5 million to deploy — will “support accelerated deployment of 5G”.

“We’re developing a low-latency, high-core-count fibre optic network that has the capacity to deliver the fastest internet speeds in Australia. When finished, the network will be 100 times faster than what exists today,” Hatton said at the time.

The Queensland government had in April revealed that it was undertaking due diligence to assess whether it can provide capacity on its own fibre-optic network ahead of the limited fibre provision of the federal government’s National Broadband Network (NBN).

In late August, the City of Gold Coast then announced that it will also be building out an Internet of Things (IoT) network covering more than 1,300 square kilometres, with plans to use the connectivity for digital water metering, waste management, and support for parks and fields.

The LoRaWAN network is likewise part of the city’s digitisation program, and is being built and operated by Australia’s National Narrowband Network Company (NNNCo).

“We’re developing a secure, scalable, commercial-grade IoT network that will enable infinite use cases by businesses, enterprise, and the council,” Hatton said.

“We chose LoRaWAN technology because it supports large-scale deployments securely, reliably, and cost effectively. NNNCo have been engaged because of their proven ability to build the network and bring commercial solutions that have the potential to significantly add value to Gold Coast residents and businesses.”

The network being provided by NNNCo — which has also been chosen to build IoT networks for Newcastle and Lake Macquarie — will lower costs across water management, Hatton added, as well as enabling early detection of any issues.

As a result of hosting the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, the Gold Coast was also the first area in the nation to have a live 5G network courtesy of Telstra, as well as a trial 5G network from Optus that ran during the event.

According to the Queensland government’s submission to the to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network’s rural and regional rollout inquiry, it is additionally encouraging the uptake of “competitive” non-NBN fixed-wireless services in areas that are not yet ready to connect to the NBN.

Related Coverage

Gold Coast announces AU$10 million fibre broadband expansion

The City of Gold Coast is adding more areas to its fibre broadband network under an additional loop at a cost of AU$10 million.

Gold Coast announces IoT network

In addition to its fibre-optic broadband expansion and its 5G access via Telstra and Optus, the City of Gold Coast has announced that it is building an IoT network with NNNCo.

Optus launches ‘5G Live’ experience in the Gold Coast

Optus’ live indoor and outdoor trial 5G network in the Gold Coast is providing download speeds of up to 16Gbps, as well as demonstrating a range of 5G use cases including robotics and VR.

Telstra’s 5G network goes live in the Gold Coast

Telstra plans to switch on more than 200 ‘5G-capable sites’ by the end of 2018, starting in the Gold Coast.

Western Tasmania gains fibre broadband under NBN tech choice program

The government has finally made good on an election promise to provide fixed-line and fixed-wireless NBN connections instead of satellite to the West Coast of Tasmania.

5G mobile networks: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

As LTE networks become increasingly saturated, mobile network operators are planning for the 5G future. Here is what business professionals and mobile users need to know about 5G.

Streaming media policy (Tech Pro Research)

Although there are many legitimate business reasons to access streamed audio and video files, such as engaging in training, reviewing industry-related content, and conducting research.

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2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L First Drive Review: A three-row SUV worth the wait

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When you arrive late, you can either slink in through the back door, or make a dramatic entrance: Jeep chose the latter. The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L may be the first three-row of its lineage, but arrives to a crowded market of strong rivals. That it manages to stand out among that group is a testament to just how big an improvement this SUV is over its predecessors.

The three-row SUV space is big. Huge, in fact. Almost 75-percent of the full-size SUV segment is made up of six- or seven-seaters, and the fact that Jeep wasn’t competing there had become a liability.

It’s notable, then, that the all-new Grand Cherokee starts out with this three-row model. There’ll be a two-row version eventually, and indeed an electrified Grand Cherokee (also with two-rows), but Jeep is pulling out all the stops to court the audience that’s actually opening its wallet.

Pricing kicks off at $36,995 for the Laredo 4×2, with 4×4 a $2k upgrade on each trim. The Limited 4×2 is $43,995, the Overland 4×2 is $52,995, and the Summit 4×2 is $56,995. Jeep’s flagship 2021 Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve 4×2 starts at $61,995; expect to pay $1,695 destination on each.

There’s no mistaking it for anything other than a Jeep. From the seven-bar grille, to the high shoulder-line, to the short overhangs and rear-drive proportions, the Grand Cherokee L’s heritage is clear.

Familiarity, though, is no drawback here. I think the new Grand Cherokee L is very much color dependent: with some hues, the truncated grille segments look a little odd, but with its LED lighting front and rear and the optional blacked-out roof it’s distinctive and crisp among the big SUV competition. Lest you forget what it is, or where it’s made, Jeep makes sure to slap a big name-badge across the doors, and an American flag.

Pride in a good product, though, can’t be argued with. On that level, it’s tough to speak ill of this new Jeep. There are two engines, starting with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 on the Laredo, Limited, Overland, and Summit. It’s good for 293 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, rated for 6,200 pounds of towing, and is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission as standard. 2WD models are rated for 19 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 21 combined; the 4WD version drops a point on the city and highway numbers, but keeps the same combined rating.

Optional on the Limited, Overland, and Summit 4×4 trims is a 5.7-liter V8. That bumps power to 357 hp and torque to 390 lb-ft, and nudges towing capacity to 7,200 pounds. It’s rated for 14 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, and 17 mpg combined.

There are three all-wheel drive configurations, too: Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II, and Quadra-Drive II. Quadra-Trac I has a single-speed active transfer case, and can push up to 100-percent of power to the front or rear axles. Quadra-Trac II adds a two-step active transfer case, has improved low-range performance, and is standard on the Overland. Finally, Quadra-Drive II has a two-speed active transfer case and rear electronic limited-slip differential: it’s optional on the Overland 4×4 with the Off-Road Group package, and standard on the Summit.

At the same time, there’s also Jeep Quadra-Lift air suspension, also standard on the Overland. That can adjust the ride height across 4.2 inches, including dipping the Grand Cherokee L down to make loading and unloading easier.

Jeep is, understandably, keen to prove its new model is no pretender when it comes to the rough stuff. The result was an off-road course tougher than any luxury SUV will ever face in typical use: jagged and haphazard rock piles, unruly log piles, and chassis-testing twist fields. As I crept adeptly through with the aid of spotters I concluded it was a textbook example of overkill – Jeep happily agrees that basically nobody will use those capabilities in practice – and evidence of just how useful the front-facing camera is, even if owners only ever use it to avoid parking lot curbs.

Happily the adventure abilities don’t impair how refined the big Jeep is on normal roads. I spent my time in the Overland mid-range trim, with the V8 engine option, and came away impressed with how refined the Grand Cherokee L feels.

It’s compliant but not squishy, partly down to Jeep’s efforts to keep curb weight about the same as the smaller outgoing model. That same stiffness that leaves the SUV so capable on the off-road course also leaves it stiff and reassuring on asphalt: there’s no body twist to unsettle or leave those in the third row feeling seasick.

With the V8’s 357 horses it’s fast but not especially sporting. The engine sounds distant and muffled; there’s none of the hearty grunt that eight cylinders typically aim for. Straight-line speed is ample and the refined tuning means there’s minimal body roll come the corners, but even in sport mode the Grand Cherokee L feels focused on comfort.

I suspect that’s the right decision on the part of Jeep’s designers. As, too, was their focus on the cabin: this interior feels a level above anything we’ve seen from the company in memory. Layout, trim choices, and technology all punch above their weight and, indeed, the Grand Cherokee L’s price tag.

For maximum-lavish you’ll want the Summit Reserve, which has double-diamond stitched leather, massage seats, waxed walnut wood accents, a 19-speaker McIntosh audio system, and heating/ventilation for both the first and second rows. Even the more attainable trims, though, feel considered and refined. Jeep’s 8.4 or 10.1-inch Uconnect 5 touchscreens are large and responsive, there’s real metal trim – albeit a little more hard plastic below the interior belt line – and the switchgear strikes a great balance between sturdy and special.

The new infotainment system is a nice improvement. Uconnect has been capable and fast for the last couple of generations, but a little overwhelming in its interface. For this fifth-gen version, Jeep revamped the graphics and made customization easier: you can drag shortcuts to the top bar for persistent access to things like the surround camera, rearrange the home screen with widgets to avoid so much menu-hopping, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto coexist more harmoniously with Uconnect 5 than is the case with most infotainment systems.

Alexa is built-in, and the center console screen plays nicely with the standard 10.3-inch digital cluster and optional 10-inch head-up display. You may have to spend a little time setting it all up initially, but the Grand Cherokee L supports multiple driver profiles for easy recall. Sadly there’s no profile sync across Jeep’s cloud, and while the redesigned owners app is faster and looks much improved, you can’t remotely configure the infotainment with it yet.

It’s not just glitter that Jeep gets right, though. The basics, like space and room for cargo, are pitch-perfect too. There are 6- and 7-seat configurations – the former with plush captain’s chairs in the second row – but even those relegated to the third row won’t be too disappointed. Jeep promised it was sized for adults and sure enough that’s the case: at 5’8 my knees weren’t around my chin and my head was still some way from the roof, and 6+ footers were similarly accommodated.

Getting in there, too, is straightforward with the tip-and-slide seats. The second and third rows will drop down, of course, including the second row center console in 6-seat versions, for a big, flat load floor. With all the seats up there’s 17.2 cu-ft to play with; that expands to 46.9 and 84.6 cu-ft as the two rows drop down.

For towing, the V6 is rated for up to 6,200 pounds, and the V8 up to 7,200 pounds. With a sizable boat hooked up to the back – and coming close to that maximum limit – it’s impressive just how little impact it has on the Grand Cherokee L’s acceleration, handling, or braking. Were it my boat I probably would’ve taken Jeep’s slalom a little more sensibly, which goes to show both the capability of the SUV and why you should never loan me your boat.

As for times when you don’t want to drive, there’s a slight stumble. Adaptive cruise is standard, along with lane management, front and rear parking alerts, blind spot warnings, rear cross path alerts, and forward collision warnings with auto-brake, and you can add on night vision and a 360-degree camera. Jeep’s Hands Free Active Drive Assist, though, won’t be ready until after the Grand Cherokee L is in dealerships, and while the SUV supports over-the-air software updates you won’t be able to retroactively add that feature to models without it. If you want the ability to drive on highways without your hands on the wheel, you may want to wait a little longer.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Verdict

Patience in that situation, though, may be tough to muster. Jeep’s first three-row SUV is mighty appealing, not least because it keeps the automaker’s personality while not forcing you to compromise on comfort and day-to-day usability simply so that you can also boast about your off-road capabilities. Where the third-row seating in some rivals can feel like an afterthought, the Grand Cherokee L embraces a family by avoiding the “but why do I have to sit back there?” squabbles.

It’s a shame that Jeep has no plans to make a three-row electrified version, at least at this stage, and the delay in hands-free driver-assistance is frustrating. All the same, there’s much more to like about the 2021 Grand Cherokee L than there is to complain about. Distinctive styling, a flexible and nicely designed cabin, and unarguable off-road credibility help warrant the “Grand” in its name.

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2022 Kia Telluride gets mild styling updates and more safety kit

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The 2022 Kia Telluride is entering the fray with a couple of new updates and more safety features. Fresh from bagging the 2020 World Car Awards trophy in its first year of production, the Telluride’s award-winning ways is a brilliant combination of luxury, versatility, off-road capability, and on-road comfort. Plus, Telluride is Kia’s biggest SUV and offers comfy seating for up to eight passengers.

2022 Kia Telluride: What’s New?

The 2022 Kia Telluride has a redesigned front grille with Kia’s new corporate logo front and center, and that’s basically it exterior-wise. Inside, a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment display is standard across the lineup to replace last year’s 8-inch display unit.

It also gets fully automatic climate control and additional safety kits like highway driving assist and navigation-based cruise control-curve across the board. Standard safety features include driver attention warning, blind-spot collision avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision avoidance assist, lane-keeping assist, and lane following assist.

We reckon Kia will continue offering the Nightfall Edition package for its 2022 Telluride, but the automaker failed to mention this in its press release. Nevertheless, Nightfall models get dark exterior elements like 20-inch black wheels, gloss black skid plates, and bespoke paint finishes.

The 2022 Kia Telluride remains motivated by a 3.8-liter V6 engine with direct injection. It pumps out 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel-drive (AWD) remains a $2,000 option across all trim models. No matter which you choose, Telluride has a standard eight-speed automatic transmission.

2022 Kia Telluride Pricing

The 2022 Kia Telluride is arriving in four trim levels. The base Telluride LX FWD starts at $32,790 and is around $600 more than last year’s model. Meanwhile, Telluride S has base prices at $35,290 (also $600 more than last year), while the EX and SX are at $37,790 and $42,690, respectively, representing a $200 increase. All trim models can have an all-wheel drivetrain for $2,000 more.

Meanwhile, the range-topping Telluride SX-P (SX Prestige Package) has premium features like Nappa leather seats, a heads-up display, and a heated steering wheel (among many others) for a base price of $46,890. Prices do not include $1,225 destination fees.

The 2022 Kia Telluride will arrive at U.S. dealerships later this year.

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Volvo looks to transition to fossil-free steel as part of its green efforts

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Volvo confirmed in March that it was committed to producing only electric vehicles by 2030 and to move to an online-only sales strategy in the same timeframe. The automaker is now doubling down on going green with the announcement that it is the first automaker to explore fossil-free steel with a Swedish steel manufacturer called SSAB. Volvo is the first automaker to work with SSAB and its HYBRIT initiative.

HYBRIT is the steel industry’s most advanced project in fossil-free steel development. That project was started by SSAB, iron ore producer LKAB, and an energy company called Vattenfall. The goal of the project is to replace coking coal that’s traditionally used in iron ore-based steelmaking. Rather than using coal, the project aims to use fossil-free electricity and hydrogen.

The project is expected to result in the first steelmaking process with virtually no carbon footprint. Volvo will become the first automaker to secure SSAB steel that’s made using the hydrogen-reduced iron created at the HYBRIT pilot plant in Lulea, Sweden. Before Volvo puts the steel into production, it says it will be used for testing purposes and potentially in a concept car.

SSAB currently plans to supply the steel market with fossil-free products starting in 2026. In that year, the new steel will be available at a commercial scale, and Volvo wants to be the first to use the steel in production cars. Using the new steel fits in with Volvo’s carbon footprint reduction plans.

Globally, steel production is reportedly responsible for about seven percent of all global direct carbon emissions. The industry is currently dominated by iron ore-based steelmaking technology that uses blast furnaces relying on coking coal. Volvo maintains a goal of reducing CO2 emissions related to steel and iron production for its vehicles to around 35 percent for traditional vehicles and 20 percent for electric vehicles. That commitment includes reducing emissions created when producing components for the vehicles. Volvo plans to be a climate-neutral company by 2040.

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