Wednesday 26 November marks the deadline for proposals to build the government's $4.7 billion national broadband network, and speculation is mounting on how many bids the government will receive, as Telstra continues to vacillate on whether it will be part of the race. ZDNet.com.au has done a call around to see where the bidders stand.
A spokesperson for Minister Conroy was not able to confirm that no bids for the network have as yet been submitted, although none of the potential bidders have confirmed that their documents are in.
As far as ZDNet.com.au can ascertain, the bidders' positions as at midday Tuesday 25 November are as follows:
|Bidder||Bid type||Will bid?||Documents ready?||Plans for Wednesday|
|Telstra||National||Still undecided, according to a spokesperson for the company, who said Telstra was still seeking certainty on whether Telstra would have to undergo structural separation if it won.||"Ready to go", according to David Quilty group managing director public policy and communications.||ZDNet.com.au understands there will be a board meeting tomorrow to make a final decision.|
|Terria||National||Yes||Optus' director of government and corporate affairs Maha Krishnapillai told ZDNet.com.au that he had just signed off on a 1000 page document.||Terria will be holding a press conference in Canberra.|
|Optus||National||Yes, but with Terria. "We are definitely not putting in a bid alone," Krishnapillai said.||Unknown||Aligned with Terria.|
|Acacia||National||Would not comment due to gag order, but did not say it would not bid.||Unknown||Unlikely to be any announcements. "We decided a long time ago just to put our heads down and work and not to make any comments," Acacia director Leon Kempler told ZDNet.com.au.|
|TransACT||State based||No comment due to gag order, but TransACT general manager of technology strategy and operations Carsten Larsen said earlier this month that the company was working on the bid.||Unknown||"We won't be making any announcements," a spokesperson said.|
|Tasmanian government||State based||Unable to respond to requests for comment in time.||Unknown||Unknown|
The focus has been on the two most public bidders, Telstra and Terria. Despite the telco's adamancy that it would not bid unless the government said it would not be forced to separate if it won the bid, Telstra's Quilty said that the telco wanted to build the network in a statement which Optus' Krishnapillai considered to be almost an admission that the company was going to take the plunge. He wasn't cowed by the thought, saying "we've said all the way that we're ready for a competitive bid".
Quilty also drew attention to the fact that Terria had still not announced its funding plans publicly. "Taxpayers cannot affort to face the real risk of having to bail out Terria from financial difficulties a couple of years down the track," he said.
Krishnapillai said Terria didn't consider there to be any financial, technical, vendor or other issues which would stop the government choosing the consortium over Telstra. The question, he said, was simply "does the governmenet have the guts to take on Telstra?"