The NSW government has awarded a five-year deal to Soul Pattinson (SP) Telecommunications for supply of the core network component of a statewide AU$300 million broadband project.
NSW Minister for Commerce, John Della Bosca, said SP Telecommunications had been selected following an "extensive" evaluation process. It is believed SP Telecommunications beat out Telstra to secure the deal.
The State Broadband Service is designed to provide a high-speed data communications network that will connect key NSW government agencies. Its coverage is expected to extend across 2,000 sites in 24 major regional centres.
Service improvements expected to be derived from the network include provision of specialist teaching to small or remote schools, access to expert medical advice from regional hospitals, distribution of complex real-time information for emergencies, video-conferencing of court and other proceedings and sharing of geo-spatial data for planning and conservation work.
The broadband service comprises; a core network designed to provide data communications services utilising both fibre-optic and microwave networks to the regional centres; network access points which will provide interconnection points to a number of suppliers providing local access services to other government sites and management services for agencies to integrate the management of data services across some or all of their sites throughout the state.
The broadband contract 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 its performance and cost savings," the NSW government said.
"In addition, there are provisions for annual benchmarking of the service's costs against current market prices".
Foundation customers for the service are the NSW Department of Education and Training, NSW Health, NSW Police, the NSW Attorney-General's Department and the NSW Department of Commerce.
A panel of suppliers will be established to provide local access services, which can be supplied via a range of technologies, including DSL, local fibre loops and wireless systems. Another panel will be established to deliver low-cost Internet access services to government agencies.
The government is also due to establish new arrangements for the supply of telecommunications services to state agencies, with the existing arrangements set to expire in August. These new arrangements, branded Government Telecommunications Agreements, will encompass supply of voice, mobile, data and other services. The Department of Commerce is to call for industry responses to the agreements in early April.