On Friday, Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, announced the release of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to roll-out and operate the National Broadband Network. He said, “This is a major step towards delivering on the Government’s election commitment to enable world-class, high-speed broadband for all Australians". A decision is expected by the end of the year.
The tender calls for proposals for the roll-out and operation of a new open access, high-speed, fibre-based broadband network. It states that the Government’s objective is that the network will provide minimum downlink speeds of 12 megabits per second to 98 per cent of Australian homes and businesses. The Australian Government has committed to provide up to $4.7 billion in funding support and to consider necessary regulatory changes to facilitate the roll-out of the new network.The
total cost of the procurement is expected to be $9 billion. The Government is offering $4.7 billion in funding, which it wants the winning tenderer to match.
The RFP details the scope of the National Broadband Network, which will:
- deliver minimum download speeds of 12 megabits per second to 98 per cent of Australian homes and businesses;
- have the network rolled out and made operational progressively over five years using fibre-to-the-node or fibre-to-the-premises technology;
- support high quality voice, data and video services including symmetric applications such as high-definition video-conferencing;
- earn the Commonwealth a return on its investment;
- facilitate competition in the telecommunications sector through open access arrangements that allow all service providers access to the network on equivalent terms; and
- enable uniform and affordable retail prices to consumers, no matter where they live.
Key dates in the tender schedule:
Expressions of interest close 23 May 2008 (a $5 million bond must be posted) Bi-lateral meetings with short-listed companies May/June 2008 Closing date for proposals - 25 June 2008 Assessment of proposals - August/September 2008 Negotations with preferred supplier - September/October 2008 Government decision - October 2008
The Minister has also invited industry and public interest groups to provide submissions on regulatory issues associated with the National Broadband Network, and submissions on policy and funding initiatives to provide enhanced broadband to rural and remote areas.