SA unis' fibre to be used for DSL

Perth-based carrier Amcom has been awarded a 20-year contract to build and maintain a fibre-optic network to connect South Australia's higher education facilities, but will also use the rollout to further its own DSL plans. Dubbed the 'South Australian Broadband Research and Education Network' or SABRENet, the network will extend from the Adelaide CBD to the major and satellite university campuses in locations like Roseworthy, Magill, Flinders University and Woodville.

Perth-based carrier Amcom has been awarded a 20-year contract to build and maintain a fibre-optic network to connect South Australia's higher education facilities, but will also use the rollout to further its own DSL plans.

Dubbed the 'South Australian Broadband Research and Education Network' or SABRENet, the network will extend from the Adelaide CBD to the major and satellite university campuses in locations like Roseworthy, Magill, Flinders University and Woodville.

It will be funded largely by a grant of AU$6.55 million from the federal government, although Amcom will also contribute approximately 11 percent of construction costs.

The universities are also understood to be contributing some capital.

In a statement, Amcom said it had sub-contracted out the network construction, but a spokesperson was not immediately available to confirm who had secured the business.

The carrier also foreshadowed plans to leverge the network to enhance its broadband service delivery capabilities.

"In addition, the route will come in to close proximity to a number of key Telstra exchanges, enabling the potential for a cost-effective DSL rollout," the company said.

"The agreement with SABRENet provides Amcom with cost-effective access to strategic network infrastructure ... the network backbone provides a solid platform for growth into the Adelaide market, and the ability to service areas that, until now, have been considered communications 'black spots'."

The carrier already owns a substantial amount of fibre-optic infrastructure in its home town Perth, which it uses as a backbone for its connect its ADSL infrastructure.

This hardware allows Amcom to sidestep the need to use Telstra's services and garners higher profit margins from services.

The body behind SABRENet is the South Australian Consortium for Information Technology and Telecommunications, a group bringing together the three South Australian universities to jointly explore ICT issues.

The consortium's chair welcomed the announcement, saying it had been the result of nearly three years of intensive collaboration between the universities, the state's government and the Defence, Science and Technology Organisation.

The project was also supported by the state government's Broadband Development Fund, he added.

SABRENet's statement claimed the network will be able to transfer a terabyte of data between sites in only 17 minutes, compared to about three months on the next-best available business-level broadband.

"Up until this year, such large datasets, saved to portable hard disks, have been transported by plane or taxi between research institutions here and overseas," said the statement.

SABRENet's interim chair Paul Sherlock said the network will be built over the next 12 months, with different parts coming online as they were built.

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