Reuters is reporting that six bids have been made for Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) after the deadline for submissions passed today. Despite its refusal to announce plans to bid, incumbent Telstra has been confirmed as one of the companies to throw their hat in the ring; Telstra had initially asked the government to confirm plans for structural separation of the network, refusing to commit to the project without assurances. Rival Optus has also put a bid forward for the NBN, backed by the Terria Consortium. Canada’s Aaxia NetMedia has also lodged a bid which it noted would involve other unnamed industry players. The final named bidder is the Accacia Group, whose investors include directors of KPMG, Highpoint Property Group and the founders of online employment company Seek. The other two bidders have not been named. Submissions will now be considered by an expert panel and a recommendation is expected by the end of January 2009. Commenting on the bids Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said, ‘The stage is now set for an extremely competitive assessment process.’
The NBN project, which will cover 98% of the country, is expected to cost up to AUD10 billion (USD6.5 billion), and the government has pledged to provide up to AUD4.7 billion of that.