Centrelink network tender result weeks away

Centrelink says it could soon be able to reveal the successful bid for its AU$100 million network replacement tender but cautioned that the announcement could be delayed by an early federal election.The tender -- launched in November last year -- will see Centrelink appoint a panel of telecommunications supplier to provide it with network carriage service in metropolitan and regional areas over the next five years.

Centrelink says it could soon be able to reveal the successful bid for its AU$100 million network replacement tender but cautioned that the announcement could be delayed by an early federal election.

The tender -- launched in November last year -- will see Centrelink appoint a panel of telecommunications supplier to provide it with network carriage service in metropolitan and regional areas over the next five years.

A spokesperson for the social security agency said that a decision on the tender was expected in two weeks but warned that the decision may be delayed if the federal government called an election before September.

"We do expect there to be an outcome within the next couple of weeks, whether or not we can say anything that happens to fall within the middle of a caretaker period for an election -- if it is called -- might mean that timeframe gets pushed out a little bit," said the spokesperson.

An election called in August would see the government placed into caretaker mode almost immediately and suspend federal spending announcements.

The Leighton Group is one bidder that will be keeping a close eye on the tender. Leighton will be keen to see a return on its investment in the failed national fibre-optic network, NextGen Networks.

NextGen Networks -- a private construction venture went into receivership in June last year owing its creditors Deutsche Bank, the National Australia Bank and Macquarie AU$281 million.

Leighton was also reported to have written off a AU$90 million dollar equity investment in NextGen before buying the network -- built by Leighton subsidiary Visionstream -- for less than AU$40 million in December last year.

Facing ongoing costs of around AU$100 million to maintain and operate the network over the next five years Leighton is now under pressure to attract customers to the network and it's rumoured to be offering network capacity at a fraction of the cost of competitors.

"We've only acquired NextGen six months ago and we're just in that formative stage of developing our business in various areas but particularly government," said Visionstream managing director, Bob de Boer.

NextGen's largest known customer is the Australian Academic & Research Network (AARNet), which it supplies with network capacity to link its 37 academic and research institutions and the CSIRO. Other customers are reported to include a junior telco, a merchant bank and an undisclosed government agency. Centrelink says it will soon be able to reveal the successful bid for its AU$100m network replacement tender but cautioned that the announcement could be delayed by an early Federal election.

The tender launched in November last year will see Centrelink appoint a panel of telecommunications supplier to provide it with network carriage service in metropolitan and regional areas over the next five years.

A spokesperson for the social security agency said that a decision on the tender was expected in two weeks but warned that the decision maybe delayed if the Federal government called an election before September.

"We do expect there to be an outcome within the next couple of weeks whether or not we can say anything that happens to fall within the middle of a caretaker period for an election -- if it is called -- might mean that time frame gets pushed out a little bit," said the spokesperson.

An election called in August would see the government placed into caretaker mode almost immediately and suspend Federal spending announcements.

The Leighton Group is one bidder that will be keeping a close eye on the tender. Leighton will be keen to see a return on its investment in the failed national fibre-optic network, NextGen Networks.

NextGen Networks -- a private construction venture went into receivership in June last year owing its creditors Deutsche Bank, NAB, Macquarie $281 million dollars out of pocket.

Leighton was also reported to have written off a $90 million dollar equity investment in NextGen before buying the network -- built by Leighton subsidiary Visionstream -- for less than $40 million in December last year.

Facing ongoing costs of around AU$100 million dollars to maintain and operate the network over the next five years Leighton is now under pressure to attract customers to the network and it's rumoured to be offering network capacity at a fraction of the cost of competitors.

"We've only acquired NextGen six months ago and we're just in that formative stage of developing our business in various areas but particularly government," said Visionstream managing director, Bob de Boer.

NextGen's largest known customer is the Australian Academic & Research Network (AARNet), which it supplies with network with capacity to link its 37 academic and research institutions, and the CSIRO. Other customers are reported to include a junior telco, a merchant bank and an undisclosed government agency.

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