Defence's billion-dollar telco decision nears

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Defence's billion-dollar telco decision nears

Telstra, Optus to be notified late September.

The Department of Defence's looming decision on whether to award Telstra or Optus the billion-dollar terrestrial communications contract has slipped to late September, according to chief technology officer Matt Yannopoulos.

Yannopoulos told attendees of the Technology in Government & Public Sector Summit this week that both companies had now put in their best and final offers, and updated their documentation from six weeks ago.

Defence teams were scoring the two offers with a view to making a recommendation “through the evaluation process to the executive”.

Yannopoulos said Government cabinet was due to consider the recommendation by the end of the year with the actual roll-out to start "early next year".

Previous reports cited Defence officials as expecting expected to enter into a contract in the second half of 2012.

In September, he said, “the industry will know which is our preferred supplier”. Optus and Telstra would be informed in Canberra, with Yannopoulos adding that everyone else would know about four minutes later.

The Defence Terrestrial Communications bundle, known as Joint Project (JP) 2047 Phase 3 (Terrestrial Communications), has been under investigation since April 2010.

It will tie together Defence’s telecommunications requirements for both war fighting and administrative/corporate requirements into a single network, as a component of a wider consolidation and standardisation effort called the Defence Information Environment (DIE).

Its full transformation is scheduled for the first half of 2015 and the deal is valued at around $1 billion over the next six years.

The rollout will effectively replace Defence's current terrestrial telecommunications systems with a high-speed IP-based network aimed at transforming the department into what one official described as “the biggest ISP in Australia”.

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