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Telstra edges out Optus to provide data to Federal Senators and MPs

by Paris Cowan •
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Telstra will provide data carriage to the electorate offices of Federal Government Senators, MPs and past Prime Ministers across Australia, replacing Optus as the key contractor for the multi-million dollar deal.

The $23.3 million contract has been signed between Telstra and the Department of Finance and Deregulation, on behalf of the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) and will cover the three years to September 2015.

It is the second most valuable deal to date to have been signed through the whole-of-government Internet Based Network Connections Panel.

The office of DPS Secretary Carol Mills told Intermedium that the arrangement covers “the provision of Wide Area Networks for data communications to electorate offices and the offices of former prime ministers”.

Last month Mills told the Senate Estimates Committee that under the contract, Telstra would increase the speed of broadband connections to the 260 offices of Federal Parliamentarians and former Prime Ministers that the DPS provides ICT support to, with work to commence in November 2013 and be completed by early 2013.

Broadband speeds were one of the most common complaints made by electorate office staff to a review of Parliamentary ICT conducted by Michael Roche earlier this year.

“Virtually every interviewee mentioned the speed of the electorate office connection as an issue. In some offices it was claimed that the speed of the link was little better than dial-up,” said the Roche Report.

Mills also told Senate Estimates that the DPS was looking into ways to meet increasing demand for wi-fi across the electorate offices.

“We are looking at options for wi-fi. They vary.

“One of the challenges is that we need to look at it almost on a case-by-case basis. The 250 electorate offices have quite different layouts and set-ups,” she said.

The DPS has been in charge of providing ICT support to electorate offices since September 2011, when this responsibility was transferred to the agency from where it had previously sat, within Finance.

Accordingly, the prior Optus contracts were signed by Finance. Intermedium has identified $18.8 million worth of contracts signed between Optus and Finance for electorate office telecommunications covering the two years from June 2009 to July 2011, averaging out at roughly $9.4 million per annum.

After the transfer, the DPS entered into another $10.9 million worth of deals with Optus for similar services across another 12 months. Mills’ office said that the actual contract with Optus expired on 31 August 2011, and work currently underway is associated with the transition out process.

The latest deal with Telstra is worth significantly less when divided into 12 month portions. The contract has an average value of $7.8 million per annum, which could indicate that its scope isn’t as broad as the incumbent Optus contract, or that it is a reflection of savings achieved through the Federal Government’s use of coordinated procurement arrangements.

To date, Intermedium has identified 65 contracts that have been signed by the whole-of-government Internet Based Network Connections panel, at a value of $187.9 million. This figure includes the $125.9 million IBNC component of the Department of Human Services managed telecommunications deal with Telstra.

Thanks largely to the DHS contract, Telstra leads the IBNC panellists by a wide margin when it comes to the value of contracting through the arrangement. The top four IBNC suppliers to date are as follows:

  1. Telstra: 12 contracts worth $159.9 million
  2. Optus: 11 contracts worth $11.7 million
  3. Nextgen Networks: 18 contracts worth $7.9 million
  4. AAPT: 4 contracts worth $4.2 million

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