Conroy calls for $4.7 billion Govt funded FttN proposals

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Conroy calls for $4.7 billion Govt funded FttN proposals

Construction of the Federal Government’s proposed $4.7 billion National Broadband Network could begin as early as October after the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy issued a Request for Proposal late last week.

The Request for Proposal will seek submissions from industry players to build a Fibre-to-the-Node (FttN) network that will reach 98 percent of Australian premises and deliver minimum download speeds of 12 Mbps.

“This is a major step towards delivering on the Government’s election commitment to enable world-class, high-speed broadband for all Australians,” Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said.

Key to successful tender proposals will be the ability to deliver a high speed network that can support bandwidth intensive applications such as high-definition video-conferencing; facilitate competition in the telecommunications sector through open access arrangements; and lastly, to earn the Commonwealth a return on its investment.

“The new network will change the way Australians communicate and do business, and demonstrates the priority this Government is giving to building Australia’s future,” Conroy said.

“The National Broadband Network will represent the single largest investment in broadband infrastructure in Australia’s history. The Australian Government has committed up to $4.7 billion and to considering any necessary regulatory changes to enable the roll-out.”

Conroy encouraged interested parties to come forward with proposals before the tender’s July 25 submission deadline. Proposals will be assessed by Conroy’s Panel of Experts, who will then provide their recommendation to the Government.

As a caveat for potential bidders, an upfront fee of $5 million must be paid by May 23 to be considered. A refund will only be given to the successful bidder, or to all bidders, if the Government abandons the process before completion.

In light of Conroy’s willingness to reflect upon and amend any necessary regulatory changes, the Senator has also called for submissions from industry and public interest groups to advise it on regulatory issues and consumer safeguards for the network.

“We recognise the critical importance of future telecommunications regulatory settings, including ongoing consumer safeguards, to ensure the best outcomes for all Australians and the competitiveness of the economy,” Conroy said.

The submissions will be due one month prior to the closing date for National Broadband Network proposals.
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