Tourism Australia plans network overhaul

With 13 sites and 270 staff around the world, Tourism Australia is looking at adopting a new corporate network that is likely to support IP telephony and videoconferencing.

Tourism Australia's global offices are connected to the Sydney head office through an international VPN, with SITA Communications as the carrier, and to the Internet through local access providers. In Sydney TA uses Optus and Powertel, with local vendors being used for the global offices, according to chief technology officer Roberto Martinelli.

TA's requirements have been outlined in an expression of interest document that asks telecommunications service providers and Internet access providers to put forward proposals for a managed international virtual private network (IVPN) and Internet access services.

"The objective of this EOI is to allow TA to identify suitably qualified service providers who will be sent a request for tender," the statement read.

Martinelli said TA expects to have the new services replacing the existing in some capacity within the next six to eight months.

"Keeping in mind that we have our current infrastructure in place, this project is being undertaken as part of the process of expiration of our contracts with SITA," he said. "Additional facilities may be implemented during the course of the contract with the selected party."

Such "additional facilities" may include a VPN using the public Internet, VoIP, and videoconferencing.

"VoIP is not one of our mandatory requirements at this stage of the process," Martinelli said. "One important consideration for the adoption of this technology is the size of our organization and the nature of our business activities. However, we are assuming that VoIP will be discussed as we go through the RFI (request for information) and tender process."

Martinelli expects to have vendors providing responses to TA's requirements "as well as bringing to our knowledge [any] extra benefits their products [and] services can deliver to Tourism Australia, which could have an impact on our decision making".

Martinelli declined to disclose the project's budget for fear of impacting the RFI and subsequent tender process.

Regarding the underlying technology, Martinelli said TA expresses no particular preference for the technology used either in the customer access network (CAN) or in the service provider's wide area network.

"For example, the CAN technology can be leased digital, ISDN, DSL, Fibre or HFC, etc," he said. "It is important that the IVPN be reliable, scalable, and provides a high-level quality of service. We require a networking environment that allows flexibility in adding and deleting network access points without excessive penalties for termination of a site or sites."

TA is also looking for flexibility in being able to alter the bandwidth at each of its sites.

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