The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has specified that any new handsets it purchases for its corporate mobile phone fleet must support the growing third-generation (3G) mobile networks currently being built by local carriers.
The AFP is the primary law enforcement agency operated by the federal government. It carries out a variety of duties related to the national interest, particularly where matters fall outside the jurisdiction of state governments.
The 3G requirements were detailed in tender documents released yesterday, in which the AFP called for a new supplier of mobile and satellite phone services for at least two years from March 2007.
"The tenderer must offer AFP a range of no more than four handsets," the documents said. "All four handsets are to be 3G/GSM/international capable and at least one is to be CDMA capable."
All of Australia's major mobile phone carriers (Telstra, Hutchison, Optus and Vodafone) are currently engaged in building out 3G networks, but most consumers and corporates still use the traditional and much slower 2G GSM networks.
The AFP's mobile phone fleet currently consists of approximately 2500 phones of varying models, mainly of Nokia make. A majority -- 80 percent -- of those devices connect to terrestrial networks (both in Australia and internationally) based on the GSM standard. The rest use CDMA networks. The AFP also has around 160 satellite phones.
"The number of handsets required by the AFP is anticipated at 500 mobile handsets and 30 satellite handsets per annum. However, the nature of the AFP's evolving capacity building may determine that a greater number is required," the AFP's request for tender said.
The documents did not disclose AFP's current mobile services supplier, and a spokesperson for the agency was not immediately able to comment on the matter.
However, like most government agencies, AFP is legally required to publish contracts it signs above the value of AU$10,000.
ZDNet Australia research into contracts disclosed by the AFP over the past 12 months suggests the agency has allocated a substantial amount of its telecommunications spend in general to large mobile carriers Telstra and Optus -- but not rivals Vodafone and Hutchison.