In Canberra, plans to migrate agency voice carriage to VOIP (voice over internet protocol) are so widespread that the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) sees no reason to include fixed line voice carriage in its coordinated procurement scheme.
It expects that agency needs for telephony will be covered by its whole-of-government Internet Based Network Connection (IBNC) panel.
“The Internet Based Network Connections panel covers digital carriage services including Voice over Internet Protocol services (VOIP). Analogue services were not included in coordinated procurement arrangements as most agencies are considering the transition to digital VOIP services,” an AGIMO spokesperson told Intermedium.
“It was obvious from the scoping study that we were not going to get greater discounts on fixed line by centralising purchasing arrangements,” she said.
In a Federal Government Telecommunications market worth $833 million in 2010-11, contracts identified as data services came to a total of $114 million while voice services came to $130 million. However, the majority of telecommunications contracts are not identifiable as either voice or data due to the general contract descriptions given by agencies.
The decision to not include a fixed line voice panel arrangement contrasts the Federal Government decision with that of NSW.
The state’s suite of Government Telecommunications Agreements (GTA’s) includes a state contract for fixed voice services, GTA 3, which is the star of its coordinated procurement scheme.
Alongside GTA 4 (mobile, satellite and paging products and services), with which it is closely aligned, GTA 3 is considered one of the best performing arrangements amongst the NSW Government’s procurement framework.
“After two years GTA 3 and 4 continues to be a star and now an independent benchmark and price review confirms that when compared to enterprise and other government jurisdictions the GTA rates are providing excellent value to customers,” said an article by NSW Procurement in December 2009.
“Highlights in the fixed voice include the lowest access rates for 1800 services in the review and fixed calls below the national average,” it said.
NSW Procurement, a unit within the Department of Finance and Services (DFS), claims that its set of five whole-of-government telecommunications panels save the state government $50 million every year.
If NSW were to follow Canberra’s lead, VOIP services would most likely fall under GTA Category 1A – Data Services.
GTA 3 is due to expire on 31 March 2012.
According to Intermedium’sScout IT tool, both the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) and the Australian War Memorial (AWM) have indicated their intentions to go to market for VOIP services within the current financial year.
DoHA is due to go to market in quarter one, and the AWM is due in quarter four.