Can it be a coincidence that with just six weeks to the next election, the NSW Government has released an EOI for a high profile project to provide free, wireless broadband for Sydney CBD and surrounding commercial centres? In making the announcement, the Premier, Morris Iemma emphasised that the planned infrastructure project would make NSW the first state to offer free, universal broadband access in major CBD areas.
Released on 29 January, the EOI calls for the provision of wireless broadband in Sydney CBD (including North Sydney), Parramatta, Penrith, Liverpool, Newcastle, Wollongong and Gosford.
The EOI specifies that the supplier will be expected to build, own and maintain the network that is likely to comprise a commercial user-pays service as well as a free community service. Interested parties have until 28 February to respond.
But NSW is not the first rushing to implement broadband. On the same day (29 January), Western Australian Premier Alan Carpenter announced that a tender would by released early in 2007 for a Statewide Broadband Network (SBN) that would provide access to all Western Australians. The total cost of the project is expected to by $1 billion.
Late last year, the Queensland Government announced that it was seeking expressions of interest for an open-access, ultra high-speed, broadband network across Brisbane. Expressions of interest in the proposed network, known as "Project Vista", have now been issued and close on February 12.