Tasmanian carrier Aurora today confirmed it was planning to initiate a tender process to find vendors for goods and services associated with the roll-out of the $43 billion National Broadband Network in the state.
The carrier has been chosen by the State Government to head up the Tasmanian part of the national roll-out, which will be the trial run for the rest of the country. To facilitate the work, it will need to source a bevy of equipment and services from other firms such as NEC, Nokia Siemens Networks, Cisco Systems, Juniper, Ericsson and more.
With the roll-out scheduled to start as early as July, any tender process would likely have to be started and finished within three to four months. This had led to industry speculation that the Tasmanian Government might fall back on suppliers which with it already had an agreement, such as Cisco for the $10 million TasColt fibre-to-the-premise project or NEC for its ties to Aurora.
However, a spokesperson told ZDNet.com.au that would not be the case, as a tender process would definitely be held. Yet, despite the tight schedule, the spokesperson would not comment on when it would start.
Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy was also unable to give any idea of exactly when or even if such tenders would be issued, with a spokesperson saying only that the Federal Government had entered negotiations with the Tasmanian Government.
"This will include details about how the Tasmanian Government will facilitate the supply and roll-out of network equipment," the spokesperson said. "These negotiations are at an early stage, however, the Tasmanian Government has indicated that it could begin work on the network deployment as soon as June or July."
Juniper's Australia and New Zealand chief Shaun Page said that the time frame was quite aggressive.
Intelligent Business Research Services analyst Guy Cranswick said that there were certainly tender processes which were wrapped up rapidly, but that it was highly unusual to do something in such a rushed fashion when such a high level of technological detail was involved.
He believed there was a very low chance of the roll-out going ahead on that date given the broadband network's past tender track record.