Defence fires up 2012 telco deal

The Department of Defence will next week release its multimillion-dollar terrestrial communications tender as it ramps up its new technology strategy.

The Department of Defence will next week release its multimillion-dollar terrestrial communications tender as it ramps up its new technology strategy.

In 2012, Defence intends to commence building a high-capacity terrestrial communications network, which it hopes will better integrate with its major ally, the US Department of Defence, and improve its corporate and war-fighting capability.

The bidding process for that work is expected to commence on 22 April, when managed network providers will be asked to submit capability statements for work currently provided by Telstra, Optus and Verizon.

At an industry briefing last week, Defence outlined that it would attempt to cut its supply base down to one, in order to streamline its sluggish procurement processes. Spokesperson Darryl Johnstone told ZDNet.com.au yesterday that it would also accept a consortium bid.

The network will be expected to improve combat, combat support and intelligence capabilities across the force, by ensuring that all its users have access to IP-based network services.

Bruce Hearne, Defence's director of terrestrial communications outlined at the briefing that Defence spent around $52 million annually on its data network, $72 million on voice and data carriage, and $17 million on its voice network. A smaller expense at $47 million was video conferencing.

The telecommunications contract represents Phase 3 of its Joint Project 2047. It is also the culmination of a new outsourcing strategy initiated by chief information officer Greg Farr, who has since 2007 worked towards simplifying procurement. Defence now has three key bundles, similarly structured to the Australian Taxation Office, Farr's former employer. Defence's new tenders have been broken down into three bundles: centralised processing, distributed computing and terrestrial communications.

Earlier this year Defence awarded Nextgen Networks a $200 million deal to manage its long haul network.

(Front page image credit: UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter image by Aloha Team, CC2.0)

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