The group council tender calls for the provision of mobile, fixed line, Internet and virtual private network services.
"The aim of this project is to establish a structured and mutually beneficial alliance with one or more tenderers for the orderly and cost effective supply of these services," the request-for-tender said.
The councils tendering are: Balranald Shire, Bega Valley, Hawkesbury, Kiama, Kogarah, Ku-ring-gai, Lane Cove, Leichhardt, North Sydney, Orange, Penrith, Port Macquarie-Hastings, Queanbeyan, Upper Hunter and Willoughby.
The tender lists the estimated value of the contract as AU$5.5 million -- AU$6.5 million
One of the main drivers behind the tender is a plan to reduce call costs by ensuring fixed-to-mobile calls are "trunked" to become mobile-to-mobile calls.
"Presently some participating councils are using fixed wireless terminals to partly achieve this outcome," the tender said.
Tenderers must provide a solution that can take the councils' fixed to mobile calls from PABX phone systems and deliver them to the tenderer's mobile network for connection as mobile-to-mobile calls, it said.
"Possibilities include the inclusion of an ADSL or SHDSL service supporting Voice over IP to the tenderers data centre, the installation of fixed mobile transponders or a 2Mb-link etc."
The councils also requested Blackberry-compatible mobile services, with some investigating installation of an on-site Blackberry server, according to the tender. Blackberry handsets would also be sourced under the contract.
Wider use of 3G services was also on the agenda.
"Some participating councils wish to access the internet via G3 [3G] wireless broadband technology rather than via GPRS," the tender said.
Tenderers would have to state whether their product would operate with laptops and/or personal digital assistants.
The contract will start from 21 March 2006. However, not all councils will come on board straightaway as several will still be serviced by existing contracts beyond that date, according to tender documents.
The six year contract will consist of three two-year "contract periods". At the end of each contract period, the successful tenderer(s) will be assessed against the contract service level agreement and key performance indicators. The councils may exit the contract if these are not met.