By Paul Hemsley
Telecommunications companies Telstra and Motorola have formally signed off on a $457.3 million contract from the Queensland government to design, build, operate and maintain the state’s Government Wireless Network (GWN) in a 15 year managed services deal.
The two companies have been in the running to take on Premier Campbell Newman’s GWN project since Minister for Trade Tim Nicholls’ announcement in December 2012 that Telstra and Motorola were shortlisted as potential preferred vendors.
The contract is a significant win for Telstra as it positions itself to be a trusted supplier to government as agencies and departments continue to overhaul their base infrastructure to take advantage of leaps in digital technology and data communications.
The GWN is a highly important project to the state government because it will to replace existing analogue radio networks used by Queensland’s public safety agencies with a new digital radio voice and narrowband data communications network.
Telstra and Motorola saw off competing bids Broadcast Australia Infrastructure Holdings (Airwave Solutions and Leighton Communications) and the Queensland Wireless Network Consortium (Harris Corporation, CSC and Brookfield Financial).
The replacement project that Telstra and Motorola will oversee is meant to address the problem of ageing analogue technology’s non-interoperability across agencies and its increasingly limited capacity to meet the present and future requirements of public safety communications.
It is particularly significant to the state government because of its desire to improve communications between agencies by boosting safety and security at major upcoming events such as the G20 summit in Brisbane on 15th and 16th November 2014 and the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Nailing down safety and security at the G20 summit is a core concern for the Queensland government which will be hosting an event that will bring many of the world’s most powerful leaders.
Big international government conferences have a record of attracting uninvited participants and prepartions are afoot avoid any of the embarrassing mishaps that marred the heavily fortified Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) event that was held in Sydney in 2007.
Despite the colossal security operation that came with APEC, the measures were not enough to detect and block members of the satirical television program The Chaser from penetrating the police fortress by using a fake motorcade featuring one member dressed as Osama bin Laden, who was then still alive and being hunted.
But the Queensland government plans to have all of its bases covered using the new GWN as the initial users will be the Queensland Police Service and the Department of Community Safety, including the Queensland Ambulance Service and the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service.
According to the state government, other agencies likely to access the GWN are the State Emergency Service, Emergency Management Queensland and the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service.
Telstra executive director, government and not for profit Chris Pearce said the company looks forward to building a communications system for public service agencies that will provide better coverage and functionality for public safety agencies to assist the community.
Motorola Solutions, Australia and New Zealand vice president Gary Starr said the project demonstrates Motorola’s commitment to ensuring the highest levels of safety not only for communities, but also for the “thousands of emergency responders that put their lives on the line every day to protect them”.
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