The government announced it was seeking a carrier to either fund a new fibre network or provide access to existing fibre and associated infrastructure as part of a project consortium -- which will include "key [South Australian] government stakeholders".
The aim of the network is primarily to provide cost-effective bandwith to state government agencies, but would also extend to local Internet service providers, businesses and individuals.
"There is unfulfilled demand for greater bandwidth at reduced costs," said the government in tender documents. "The project will provide enabling optical fibre infrastructure ... and services (aggregation, wholesale bandwidth, backhaul to Adelaide) to be utilised by, and provide benefit to a range of regional customers."
The reference to backhaul represents the state's stipulation that the carrier must provide a link between Mount Gambier and Adelaide. The state also believes aggregating local Mount Gambier traffic together in the link to Adelaide will provide price benefits.
Mount Gambier was chosen, according to the state, because of the number of government businesses concentrated there. In addition, although it is "a major regional centre", it has been disadvantaged by "the lack of cost-effective bandwidth".
Furthermore, the state said, the ability to aggregate the telecommunications needs of government, business and private organisations in the town would deliver real services as well as price benefits and "underpin the rollout of the regional telecommunications model to further regional centres in South Australia".
The selected telco would build a physical point of presence in Mount Gambier, and provide both wholesale and retail access to broadband infrastructure in the city.
The South Australian government also stipulated that it would pay for any data which is sent from its government agencies out of Mount Gambier. However, it would expect free transfer of data between locations in the centre.
If an agreement is reached between the state and a telco, the South Australian Minister for Administrative Services will seek funding for the venture in June of this year. The operation and maintenance of the fibre network will be the carrier's responsibility. No cost estimates were provided.