Tasmania begins voice service consolidation

 

Seeks panel of VoIP, ISDN suppliers.

The Tasmanian Government's telecommunications management division (TMD) has issued the first of several tenders aimed at removing the current panel of six mobile and telephony suppliers to state departments.

The consolidated voice services project, in planning for more than a year, would replace the TASINET contract, elements of which had been established more than a decade ago.

TASINET panel deals were largely served by Telstra and Optus for fixed voice and mobile services, as well as four IP telephony providers.

Those deals accounted for approximately $14.9 million of telephony expenditure each year for Tasmania's TMD, which acted as a central customer for the telephony contracts to government departments.

The TMD planned to establish a new panel when the TASINET contract expired in March next year.

It would look to ultimately establish its own private voice network over existing internal networking arrangements by July 2012.

Under the first of five tenders, the TMD called for one or more suppliers to provide ISDN, POTS and VoIP services for interconnection with government departments, agencies and local councils across the state. They would be connected to existing PABXs and used for site redundancy in event of a WAN failure.

Future contracts under the consolidated voice services project would also address mobile voice and data, end-user devices, unified communications, video conferencing, customer service billing and installation services.

Tender documents called for a 99.7 percent availability for ISDN services and 99.95 percent availability for VoIP and POTS services.

A total of 2356 ISDN and POTS services were due for replacement when the TASINET contract expired next year, totaling $2 million in expenditure, which the TMD said was "likely to be steady over the first two to three years" of the four-year contract it hoped to replace under the new tender.

However, the services required for transition made up a small part of the approximately 25,000 telephony services required for government staff. The TMD would maintain a second, larger agreement with Telstra covering 22,000 existing spectrum telephony services until it expired in 2014.

Where departments and agencies were currently mandated to use the services through the TMD, government businesses and schools had the choice of seeking their own arrangements outside of the new contract.

It came as the result of a decision by Tasmanian Cabinet last month, which sought to relieve public schools from being locked into arrangements that prevented access to some services. The government had come under pressure when it was discovered some schools in areas served by the National Broadband Network were unable to access the fibre services due to existing whole-of-government arrangements.

While the government maintained those arrangements were maintained following the cabinet decision, tender documents stated that there was "no mechanism for requiring other eligible customers, such as Government Business Enterprises, State-owned companies and local councils, to use the arrangements".

Former state premier David Bartlett had specifically sought to push Telstra as incumbent supplier out of future state government telecommunications contracts, though was specifically concerned about the backhaul and internet services the telco provided.

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