Work is set to start on a high-speed optical fibre network between universities in the Sydney basin early next year.
The Australian Academic and Research Network (AARNet) has put out a request for proposal (RFP) for a high-capacity metropolitan backbone on behalf of The University of Sydney, The University of New South Wales, the University of Technology Sydney, Macquarie University and the University of Western Sydney.
The five universities were awarded a $1.6 million grant to improve IT and communication facilities for collaborative research and education projects by the Commonwealth Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs (DETYA) in January 2000.
Bill Sharpe, director of IS at The University of Sydney said the grant money is being viewed as "seed money" for the project. He said the final cost of the project will depend on the solution chosen.
"It is the intent that the implementation of the solution will occur over the next six months."
The proposed network will link research laboratories at each university and national research centres such as the Australian Centre for Advanced Computing and Communication at the Australian Technology Park.
A technical working party staffed by the five universities has developed the network design and collaborated with AARNet, CSIRO and the NSW Department of Information Technology and Management (DITM) to maximise benefits of the initiative.
Potential solution providers have until December 24 2001 to submit responses, which will be evaluated in cooperation with CSIRO and DITM.