WebCentral wins Qld schools $20.3m ISP deal

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Education Queensland has signed Brisbane web hoster WebCentral to provide managed Internet services to 1320 schools and district offices in a deal potentially worth $20.3 million over five years.

Under the deal, WebCentral will provide messaging, email, content filtering, directories, web hosting, web access, security and domain name management to 540,000 users for at least three years and $16.4 million, extendable to five years. Other interested parties, such as parents, may get access to the services as the scheme ramps up.

Sally-Anne Stansfield, GM at WebCentral Complex, said the company's enterprise-grade business unit had substantial potential. “For us, these are very exciting times. We have had scalability built into it because we expect it to grow, so revenues could be considerably more than $20.3 million,” she said.

Previous provider Telstra reportedly pulled out because its Edunet service was unprofitable. “WebCentral is the largest hosting company in Australia. We can achieve economies of scale [that Telstra could not]. We can offer value for money and are cash-flow positive and this deal is not going to change that,” said Stansfield.

The managed Internet service would harness a SunOne portal-type service, Sun SAN infrastructure, N2H2 content filtering and IBM products such as Tivoli monitoring software. “The techos working on it keep saying it's 'sick technology',” she said.

Stansfield said opportunities for WebCentral Complex were growing, with the unit this year expected to net some 25 per cent of the company's revenue. “There is a push to relocate this to other industries. The Department of Innovation and Industry must be looking to this implementation to show what can be done,” she said.

Education Queensland would not say how many companies had tendered for the contract, nor why WebCentral was selected as the winner. The government body declined to be interviewed, providing a written statement in response to a series of questions instead.

WebCentral initially expressed interest in the contract when it went out for tender in September but the deal has only now been completed.

Telstra's contract expired in October but the telco will continue to provide Internet services to Education Queensland until 30 June, Education Queensland said.

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