NSW finalises AU$300 million broadband network

The NSW government is expecting to finalise by the end of the month its panels of suppliers to deliver last-mile interconnect and Internet services to its sites as part of a massive statewide broadband contract.

The NSW government is expecting to finalise by the end of the month its panels of suppliers to deliver last-mile interconnect and Internet services to its sites as part of a massive statewide broadband contract.

A state government spokesperson confirmed all of the suppliers -- three on the Local Access (LA) panel and three on the Internet service provider (ISP) equivalent -- were expected to ink their deals by the end of the month after SP Telemedia announced today its data networking business, SPT, had been appointed to the LA panel. Some suppliers are expected to appear on both panels.

It is believed Telstra bid, but did not make the cut for, the ISP panel.

Newcastle-based SP Telemedia has itself built the high-capacity core IP/MPLS network for the AU$300 million broadband project, which will connect up to 2,000 sites in 24 major regional centres.

The broadband contract also includes 26 Network Access Points (NAPs) - 24 in regional areas and two in Sydney - which provide interconnection services to suppliers providing LA services to government sites.

The sites include schools, TAFE colleges, hospitals, court houses, police stations and other government offices.

The spokesperson confirmed that, despite statements in Commerce Minister John Della Bosca's release on 1 February saying the State Broadband Service (SBS) will have a start date "no later than October 2005," some operations will not now commence until early next month.

However, there would be no contract penalties and the government was "very happy" with the supplier, he said.

According to Della Bosca, service improvements made possible by the SBS include provision of specialist teaching to small or remote schools, access to expert medical advice from regional hospitals, distribution of real-time information for emergencies, video-conferencing of court and other proceedings and sharing of geo-spatial data for planning and conservation work.

Foundation customers for the service include the NSW Department of Education and Training, NSW Health, NSW Police, the NSW Attorney General's Department and the NSW Department of Commerce.

The SBS is subject to a major three-year review and will only proceed to the end of the five-year term should the government be satisfied with performance and cost savings.