Defence is close to awarding Telstra or Optus the contract to become sole operator of a unified communications network at the Government Department.
The Terrestrial Communications bundle, known as Joint Project (JP) 2047 Phase 3 (Terrestrial Communications), has been under investigation since April 2010 and hopes to tie telecommunications requirements for both war fighting and administrative/corporate requirements into a single network.
The project is a component of a wider consolidation and standardisation effort called the Defence Information Environment (DIE).
The department has entered a "down-select” phase on the communications tender and is currently undertaking parallel negotiations with the two telcos, according to Clive Lines, first assistant secretary of ICT Reform in the Defence’s CIO Group.
"We expect to enter into a contract in the second half of 2012,” Lines said.
The full transformation will be completed during the first half of 2015.
He said an unnamed “overseas telecommunications specialist” would advise the Defence CTO’s team on the technical viability of either party's solution.
The winning bidder would provide telecommunications “as a service”.
Replacing Defence's current terrestrial telecommunications systems with a high-speed IP-based network will transform the department into “the biggest ISP in Australia”, according to Lines.
“This will change fundamentally the amount of bandwidth available for local networks to the bases,” Lines said.
“It is a critical enabling reform because Army has a view about the way it wishes to operate and it relies on ubiquitous telecommunications.
“If this project does not deliver Army cannot roll out its own reforms.”
Lines said Defence was expecting “big savings” attached to the contract as well as reductions in travel requirements.
Other benefits Defence expects from its transformed terrestrial network include:
- bandwidth surge capacity at most sites,
- video conferencing to DNS users around the country,
- IP voice capability and unified communication; and
- more stable, reliable and efficient voice and data networks.