NSW awards broadband contract to SPT

Newcastle-based telco, Soul Pattinson Telecommunications (SPT), has won a multi-million dollar contract to satisfy the broadband needs of the departments and agencies of the NSW government.

Known as the State Broadband Service, it will provide connections to over 2000 sites, including schools, TAFE colleges, hospitals, court houses, police stations and other government offices, the NSW Minister for Commerce, John Della Bosca, said.

Rural and regional NSW is expected to benefit the most from the contract, with services extending as far west as Broken Hill, south as Albury and north into Grafton. The service also includes Sydney.

The arrival of broadband is significant.

It could reach into small or remote schools and aid with specialist teaching, hospitals would be able to share information more efficiently, and courts would be able to video-conference proceedings, among other things, Della Bosca said.

The terms of the deal indicate it would be valued at 25 per cent of the State's total spend on broadband, a spokesperson for NSW Minister for Commerce said.

This means the five-year deal will net SPT anywhere between $5 to $20 million per annum. That figure will increase if more departments or agencies are added in the future.

The NSW government already had a relationship with SPT, and this was a factor in awarding the company the contract, Della Bosca said.

The core network will be supplied by SPT with other telcos filling in the gaps to areas not covered by the Newcastle-based telco.

According to report in June last year from industry research firm Budde.com, SPT is the operator of the second largest regional telecommunications network in Australia after Telstra, with a broadband network with around 180 PoPs in regional centres along Australia's eastern seaboard.

SPT's efforts will also be aided by its purchase of failed wholesaler Comindico in November. That acquisition has enabled SPT to further expand its regional IP broadband network and significantly increase its capital city presence.

The State Broadband Service is expected to commence operations by October.

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