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Continuing controversy over NBN

19 December, 2008
By Allison Orr

Bids for the $10-billion National Broadband Network (NBN) closed on Friday 26 November.  The proposals will be assessed by an expert panel, which will make a recommendation by the end of January 2009.

The close of the bid process, however, has not ended the controversy over the network but appears to have augmented it.  The primary issue is over the Government’s decision to reject Telstra’s proposal on the grounds that it did not satisfy the Request for Proposal criteria, as it did not include sufficient information about how Telstra would involve small to medium enterprises in the building of the network.  News of their exclusion sent Telstra shares into a decline, with almost $6 billion being wiped off the company’s market value the day after the announcement.

Telstra has said that it will fight its exclusion from the process, arguing that the reason for its exclusion is "trivial", and that it is "the only company with the existing network, technical knowhow, world leading vendor, skilled workforce, established wholesale systems and proven track record of building world class networks". 

This is not the only area of contention however.  With Telstra out of the way, the frontrunner to build the network is Singtel Optus, but concerns have been raised about the involvement of Chinese telecommunications equipment-maker Huawei Technologies.  Huawei was the subject of a US Congressional investigation about its links to the Chinese military and intelligence.  The Federal Opposition has demanded the government explain whether a company with links to Chinese authorities may be one of several vendors to set up the NBN.

Huawei has stated that it is "ludicrous and inaccurate" that it has links to the Chinese military or that it could cause security problems for the NBN.

For full coverage of the National Broadband Network see:

The Australian IT - National broadband network: full coverage

ZDNet National Broadband Network News



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