update The Western Australian state government today invited private sector groups to register their interest in building its planned AU$1 billion state-wide broadband network (SBN).
The state in late November flagged plans to pool the next 10 years of its annual AU$100 million telecommunications spend into a billion dollar contract to build and operate the network, which is designed to serve both the needs of government agencies as well as the network traffic needs of commercial parties such as Internet service providers.
In a statement today announcing the kick-off of a registration of interest process for construction of the network, WA's Industry and Enterprise minister Francis Logan said the state could no longer sit on its hands and wait for the federal government to act on the issue of high-speed broadband.
"Current broadband speeds in WA are well below the global standard," Logan said. "It is important that all Western Australians have access to world-class services that will make us more competitive in the global marketplace through connectivity with the rest of the world."
Tender documents related to the process said the state would take registrations of interest until late March, with an additional industry briefing to occur on 12 March in Perth.
The government dollar
The SBN will form a key part of the WA state government's telecommunications infrastructure for the next decade, providing services to the state's approximately 100,000 public sector employees.
"The government's vision, as outlined in its Connected Government strategy, is to transition public sector telecommunications onto a converged next-generation network by 2010," the tender documents released today said.
"It is envisaged that all agency sites will be connected via a common IP-based network infrastructure. This is expected to be managed as a private Internet, allowing individual agencies to operate their own virtual private networks."
The SBN will form the core of this infrastructure -- as well as selling wholesale access to backbone traffic to private parties such as ISPs.
"The SBN will be expected to provide agencies with end-to-end connectivity, high availability, high levels of security, network separation and segregation, scalability and quality of service," the state wrote, noting the network was expected to provide a minimum of 10Mbps speeds to each agency site.
WA's annual telecommunications expenditure is currently split into fixed data services (48 percent), fixed voice services (41 percent), mobile voice and data services (9 percent) and Internet access (2 percent).