NEC signed on for more NSW critical communications network tech

Under a new deal with the NSW Telco Authority, NEC Australia will provide microwave backhaul, network management systems, and radio network support for another 127 sites across the state.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Senior Reporter on

NEC Australia has announced being chosen by the New South Wales Telco Authority to deliver microwave backhaul, network management systems, and radio network support under the state government's Critical Communication Enhancement Program (CCEP).

The contract covers 87 sites on the NSW North Coast as well as 40 priority sites that will be kitted out with its iPasolink VR microwave communications system and UNMS network management system.

"NEC Australia's agreement includes 24x7 help-desk support and advanced logistics services from its Australian technical service centres," the company added.

The state government had earlier this year announced that NSW law enforcement would be receiving AU$151.1 million in 2018-19 -- AU$467.3 million over four years -- under the 2018-19 Budget for its CCEP to expand the coverage of the Government Radio Network and improve critical communications during emergencies.

"The new contract with the NSW Telco Authority, under the ITS 2573 scheme, builds on NEC's work with the authority and the successful delivery of a pilot project in the state's north-west," NEC Australia Radio Solutions business manager Krisztian Som said.

NEC was also chosen by NSW Police Force in July to upgrade its microwave radio communications network using its iPasolink VR platform and supplying 110 iPasolink terminals to the New England region.

According to NEC, the platform "enables the seamless upgrade of the radio network's capacity, effectively future-proofing communications, on demand", with the IT provider already having supplied 180 terminals to NSW Police.

"The robust iPasolink Outdoor Units (ODUs) ... are designed to operate in the harshest environmental conditions," NEC said.

"Crucial to the iPasolink selection is its small size which reduces tower load and eliminates the high cost of strengthening towers to accommodate larger, heavier equipment."

The radio comms network is used by 20,000 NSW Police staffers, NEC said, and in 500 police stations across the state. NEC's engineering team will also continue providing installation support.

NEC was similarly signed by the NSW Telco Authority to deliver network management systems and wireless backhaul technology for state emergency services and other public safety agencies as part of the CCEP back in February 2017 for a three-year deal.

Along with the NEC deal, the NSW Telco Authority also signed a five-year, AU$30 million deal with Motorola Solutions to upgrade 150 PSA radio sites and extend network coverage to 23 new sites in the north-west region of the state in December 2016.

Earlier this week, the NSW government also introduced its Telecommunications Bill to parliament, along with a AU$600 million investment in critical communications agency networks.

"Going thru my speech for Telecommunications Bill that I'm introducing into Parli today," Minister for Finance, Services and Property Victor Dominello tweeted on Wednesday morning.

"Previously critical Gov agencies such as @NSWAmbulance, @NSWSES and @nswpolice had separate radio networks. We are investing $600m to create a single network for these frontline services."

Under Section 16(1) of the public consultation draft of the Telecommunications Bill [PDF] published in June, government agencies are required to use the state government's telco network for operational communications, which is described in s3 as being "voice and data communications to facilitate the exercise of public safety functions by a government sector agency".

Section 17 then allows the minister to "authorise the establishment or use of an alternative network for an event or circumstance, a class of events or circumstances or for class of operational communications and may impose such conditions the minister considers to be appropriate".

Such circumstances would include geographical and technological limitations; needing to establish local networks for short periods of times due to events, "recurring circumstances, or situations"; or where the cost of the alternative network would not exceed AU$500,000.

The NSW Telco Authority is also authorised to remove, disconnect, transfer, or reconnect any part of the government telco network under s19 if it is "satisfied that it is no longer required for the efficient and economical operation of that network and is not required to be maintained under any contract or arrangement with a government sector agency".

The Bill modernises the existing 25-year-old Government Telecommunications Act 1991 (NSW) after a review and public consultation found it to be outdated, with the government also wanting a legislative basis for its CCEP.

In August, the NSW Telco Authority had also put out the call for "innovative ideas and models" on the scope of work necessary for constructing, operating, and maintaining the NSW government's critical communications radio network.

According to NSW Telco Authority MD Kate Foy, the state government's radio network will increase from 180 to around 400 sites over the next few years, and then 700 in total once the CCEP is complete.

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