Treasury ditches BlackBerry for Apple

The Australian Department of Treasury will ditch its fleet of BlackBerry devices for iPhone 5s, CIO Peter Alexander has revealed to ZDNet.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Over the next month and a half, the Australian Department of Treasury will ditch its fleet of BlackBerry mobile phones in favour of iPhone 5s, according to chief information officer Peter Alexander.

The department has traditionally provided BlackBerry devices to staff in the department, four ministers' offices, and agencies under Treasury; but after Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) certified iOS for government use, Alexander said that the department made a decision to switch over.

"We're going to use Apple devices as our corporate platform — iPhones and iPads for now," Alexander told ZDNet. "Basically because iOS has been evaluated by Defence Signals Directorate."

The control of the 250 devices will be managed by the mobile device management platform AirWatch, and Alexander said the department would aim to complete the roll-out by the end of March.

The decision to drop BlackBerry — which already had DSD approval — for the iPhone within Treasury comes as BlackBerry last week officially launched the new operating system BlackBerry 10 and two new devices, the Q10 and the Z10. Alexander said that he wasn't sure that BlackBerry's attempted comeback would succeed.

"BlackBerry has pretty limited capability," he said. "With the new one being launched, it's almost too late. Maybe it'll catch up, maybe it won't."

Alexander said that the lack of DSD approval of any Android devices prevented the department from going with Android.

"In the coldest and cruelest way to look at it, there was no decision for us, really. We looked at it in terms of usability and functionality, Android phones are perfectly adequate ... but it was really a decision we didn't have much option in."

Most of the department's mobile fleet is serviced by Optus, he said, except for in some ministers' offices where Telstra was the preferred carrier.

"No criticism of Telstra, but we've had some really nice arrangements with Optus [for bundles]. That bundling of data has been really useful for us over time," he said.

"Telstra has better coverage [such as 4G in Canberra]. Lots of people in the ministerial offices want to have Telstra. Not only because of the speed, but also because of the connection."

Telstra has rolled out its 4G long-term evolution (LTE) network into select areas of Canberra already. Optus plans on launching its time division duplex (TD) LTE network in the capital in March or April; however, this network will not be compatible with the iPhone 5.

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