Telcos Down Under await nat'l broadband network award

The Australian government will announce this week the winners of a bid to construct a multi-billion dollar national broadband network (NBN) for the country. Telstra, Australia's largest phone company, was dumped from a process expected to award AUS $4.7 billion to the winner.

The Acaica consortium is favored to win over Optus and Canadian service provider Axia NetMedia; in addition, the local governments in Canberra and Tasmania are bidding to build out regional parts of the NBN. 

Acaica is headed by a former Telstra exec, and backed by Solomon Lew and a bunch of wealthy Australian businessmen. The consortium's bid maps out a plan for 100 percent coverage of the Australian population through a combination of fiber, wireless and satellite technology.

Analyst Paul Budde is betting Acacia will get the award for NSN, with Optus, Axia, and the ACT and Tasmanian governments contributing to the effort. Wireless technology is expected to be a short-term solution while fiber to the home is being fully implemented.

But there are a bunch of unknowns for NBN to become real. The wild card in the mix is Telstra, which just happens to own the existing infrastructure and would have to provide some sort of access. Budde hopes Telstra comes on board, but the company says  it has moved beyond the NSN and will be promoting alternative broadband services.

Funding of the project is also at issue. With the global financial markets dried up of capital, money for capital expenses could pose a challenge for any winner.

For more:
- Sydney Morning Herald reports on the tension in Australia. Article.

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