Integ, Telstra lose Health Insurance Commission deal

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Voice-and-data integrator Integ Communications has been ousted from a long-standing public sector telecommunications contract with the Health Insurance Commission (HIC).

The Sydney-based company had a long-standing arrangement as part of a deal with incumbent Telstra, which lost the contract to Optus in the results of a competitive tender process announced 2 March.

Kerry Scotland, director of marketing at Integ, confirmed that Integ had until 2 March supported HIC telecommunications as a sub-contractor with "one of the carriers".

"I believe it was Telstra. Integ is obviously disappointed, as we are committed to providing excellent value to our customers," she said. "It was a long-standing relationship."

She would not say how much the deal was worth to Integ.

Scotland said no changes were expected at the integrator as a result of the contract loss, which was "a very small part" of its business. "There'll be no staff losses or anything like that," she said. "But we still don't like to lose customers."

Six sales and service staff at Sydney-based Integ were laid off 5 February in a quest for greater post-acquisition efficiencies, leaving a total 93 in its Australian offices.

Integ CEO Ian Poole told CRN at the time that the layoffs were partly to streamline the company following its recent acquisitions of emergency services specialist Trade Centre Products and Queensland data networking firm Lanlink.

It is believed that the integration work in the HIC carrier and telephony services contract will now be carried out by rival Alcatel reseller VoIP, as part of a winning Optus bid.

VoIP had not returned phone calls at the time of going to press but Craig Simonetto, a spokesman for HIC, confirmed that Optus put forward the winning bid.

"We're just currently finishing final contract negotiations with Optus," he said. "That should take place over the next week. Telstra was the current service provider."

Simonetto said HIC had been satisfied with the work of Telstra and its sub-contractors but Optus' bid had proved more "attractive".

"It was around price," he said.

Simonetto said that the technologies used by Telstra and its sub-contractors had been satisfactory. However, greater business efficiencies -- especially cost-reduction -- were likely from the Optus proposal.

He would not put a figure on the overall value of the contract.

The new contract is for three years. Previously, that contract had been a two-year deal but Telstra had "always" been the incumbent supplier, Simonetto said.

Integ's Scotland said the loss of the deal would have little effect on the integrator. The company was moving forward, with new opportunities already flagged.

"There will be some good news that we can't talk about yet," she said. "We have just won a large local council deal, and one with Australia's largest hotel, putting in a really sexy solution."

Integ also recently completed a $1 million integration for financial services provider Tower Australia late December 2003, Scotland said.

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