Telecommunications next on DTA's panel refresh agenda

The Australian government's digital transformation arm is asking for feedback on its new Telecommunications Panel.

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has published a discussion paper on its ideas to refresh the whole-of-government telecommunications panel, considering the inclusion of further services, such as dark fibre, unified communications, and software-defined WAN (SDWAN).

The new telecommunications panel will consolidate the expiring mobile panel, the expired telecommunications management panel, and the current telecommunications services panel. It will also see the addition of new categories not currently under a panel arrangement.

"The increasing migration of services layers and content 'into the cloud' is now well established with product integration trends demonstrated by the convergence of technology and product silos onto platforms based on the Internet Protocol," the DTA wrote. "The impact of this trend is a diminishing clarity between technology specific products, cloud based products, and virtualised services."

Under the category of network services, the DTA is considering: the inclusion of dark fibre services; adding managed LAN services, including to support protected and unclassified-level communications; expanding the transport data link services offerings already available under a panel arrangement; and similarly, the expansion of internet connection services and managed WAN services. The DTA said it also wants to understand the range of SDWAN products available in the market, their application, and how these may be deployed in an entity environment.

Under consideration for the new panel is a new voice/video services category that could see available SIP trunks, telephony systems, and cloud-based voice services. The DTA is also considering the inclusion of call centre services.

It plans to refresh what is available under the mobile service category, with a focus on bring your own device (BYOD) equipment and making support available for the development of Internet of Things (IoT) functionality.

Professional services is another category the DTA wants under its new telco panel, which will include project management, third party vendor and contract management, and telecommunications security services.

Unified communications, which includes IP telephony and video conferencing, integrated messaging, as well as email, voicemail, text, and chat capabilities, is also up for discussion under the new panel.

Certain categories of the new panel will continue to be mandatory for Australian government non-corporate Commonwealth entities, the DTA said. The new panel will also be accessible for other Australian government bodies and state and territory government agencies.

The existing telecommunications services panel was announced in December 2016, with Telstra, TPG Network, Macquarie Telecom, Verizon Australia, Nextgen Networks, and Sliced Tech awarded the first spots.

The DTA is attempting to spread the AU$6.5 billion spent annually on IT by the Australian government across to smaller players by refreshing the way government procures IT-related services.

Starting with the archaic panel process, the DTA has previously published the Digital Sourcing Framework and proposed eight principles to underpin all digital and IT government panels.

The framework, developed by a team comprised of representatives from seven different government departments, followed consultation that the DTA began in April that placed a focus on opening procurement up to smaller firms.

Submissions close February 26, with the DTA expected to use the feedback to develop the request for tender due for publish later this year.

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