Hendy Cowan

Hendy Cowan


Rob Johnson

Rob Johnson


    New deal to improve regional communications

    27/06/2000 4:00 PM

    The State Government has signed an agreement with Telstra which will bring faster, cheaper and more accessible data communications in Western Australia one step closer.

    A head agreement has now been signed by Telstra and Optus, after both companies were selected last year under the Government’s State-wide Telecommunications Enhancement Program (STEP).

    Works Minister Rob Johnson and Commerce and Trade Minister Hendy Cowan said the agreement covered provision of data services for Government agencies.

    The head agreement was signed today by Department of Contract and Management Services (CAMS) chief executive Dr Paul Schapper and Telstra CEO Ziggy Switkowski.

    “By using its aggregated buying power, the State Government has attracted Telstra and a second carrier, Optus, into competing for country services,” Mr Johnson said.

    “These agreements enable businesses, Internet service providers and other organisations to negotiate with competing carriers to obtain the best service and price for their needs.

    “For the first time, two carriers - Telstra and Optus - will supply data communications services to Government agencies in rural and remote Western Australia.

    “Some 1,100 agency locations throughout the State will have access to fast and economical data communications. About 100 locations have already been connected. The regional community will gain improved access to a wide range of services as a result.”

    Telstra will be providing improved data communications services for government in regional Western Australia, based mainly on its existing infrastructure. Telstra will use satellite for some of the remote locations.

    Dr Switkowski said Telstra was pleased to have reached this important agreement with the State Government, continuing the State-wide commitment Telstra has to WA.

    Mr Cowan said the Government had the option of owning its own data network, but it believed it was more effective to stimulate competition and encourage the carriers to invest in infrastructure and other improvements.

    “These agreements mean that education and training, health, banking, videoconferencing, Internet access and e-commerce will become more widely available in rural WA - and at affordable rates,” he said.

    “Until now, rural and remote communities have increasingly become ‘information poor’ relative to the major regional centres, where services and infrastructure have been progressively upgraded.

    “Also, telecommunications is now more about carrying data via the Internet and online services rather than voice telephone calls. Both carriers will share in a market that is expected to grow strongly in the next few years. The five-year contract period is expected to enable both to get a fair return on investment.”

    Mr Johnson said the Government expected its agencies to avoid major cost increases despite huge increases in data traffic.

    “STEP will enable these increases to be handled without a proportional rise in costs. Indeed it will enable services to be provided where it was previously too expensive to contemplate,” he said.

    CAMS will manage the agreement between the State Government and the carriers.

    Individual Government agencies have the choice of signing up with either provider, depending on the services and pricing structures that best suit their requirements. Some are expected to use both Telstra and Optus. Each agency will pay for the services it uses.

    Media contacts:
    Fran Hodge (Minister Johnson’s office) 9481-3244
    Peter Jackson (Minister Cowan’s office) 9222-9595
    Richard O’Connell (Telstra) 9491-8806; mobile 0418-314-870