​Telstra, TPG among those chosen for Commonwealth telco services panel

The Australian government has selected Telstra, TPG Network, Macquarie Telecom, Verizon Australia, Nextgen Networks, and Sliced Tech to be the first members of its Whole-of-Australian-Government Telecommunications Services Panel.

The federal government has selected its six initial Telecommunications Services Panel (TSP) members who will offer commonwealth entities managed WAN and data link services.

Comprising the TSP so far is Telstra, TPG Network, Macquarie Telecom, Verizon Australia, Nextgen Networks, and Sliced Tech, with others expected to be announced over the coming weeks.

The Department of Finance has already entered into head agreements with the initial panellists until November 30, 2020, with three 12-month extension options for each vendor.

The TSP will see the six vendors provide terrestrial managed WAN services, satellite managed WAN services, terrestrial transport data link services, satellite transport data link services, and internet connection services to corporate Commonwealth entities and other government bodies, should they wish.

The government initially went to market in May to establish the TSP, with the call for tender noting the goal of the procurement was to establish a TSP that "continues to deliver a competitive means to procure telecommunication services and convey continued savings to the Australian government".

In a bid to make it easier for government departments and agencies to procure a cloud-based solutions provider, the government established a Cloud Services Panel as part of a whole-of-government digital strategy, initially led by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. This was after it was revealed that despite the government spending over AU$5 billion per year on IT, the total procurement of cloud services by federal agencies since mid-2010 came to just AU$4.7 million.

"The panel aims to offer agencies scalable and flexible cloud services via industry offerings, and do so in a way that reduces the burden on industry," the government's chief technology officer John Sheridan said previously.

To date, the cloud services panel has signed up around 100 preferred vendors, with Telstra on that panel, too.

"We'd signed 55 up in the first two weeks, because we had shared with them the contractual arrangements previously and were able to very quickly get them into offering services," Sheridan said in February. "So far in 2015-16, we've had AU$2.6 million of purchasing off this panel.

"It's not mandatory and people don't have to use it; it's just aimed at making things easier."

Within seven months of the 2015-16 financial year, the Australian government publicly tendered for cloud services to the tune of AU$27 million, surpassing the entire 2014-15 spend of AU$25 million.

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