The NSW Department of Education and Training (DET)’s recent netbooks and wireless connectivity tender could open new services opportunities for channel partners.
Worth hundreds of millions of dollars, the tender will see 197,000 year 9-12 secondary students allocated computing devices as part of the Rudd Government’s digital education revolution. It comes on the back of the Federal Government’s announcement it would inject over $800 million to support states and territories with the program.
Companies have been encouraged to form consortiums to bid for the contracts, the first of which involves the provision of learning devices to at least 571 schools over the next four years.
The devices will only work with a DET login and password, must be under $500, weigh no more than 1.75kg, be smaller than an A4 sheet of paper, have a minimum screen size of 8.9-inches, be capable of enabling voice and video communication, have a start-up time of less than five seconds, and be attractive to the user through aesthetic customisation.
Software licensing and a four-year warranty are also to be included in the $500 price tag with students able to take ownership after they leave school. The only devices on the market fitting this description are netbooks or mininotebooks.
Respondents to the expressions of interest (EOI) must be OEMs, assemblers of their own brand, or the sole primary importer.
The second EOI involves the rollout of wireless connectivity to all schools to support the devices.
ASI product manager, Craig Quinn, said this presented a significant opportunity for service providers.
“It is a large project; the wireless infrastructure is going to involve a lot of parties to achieve the time line planned,” he said. “In terms of a mid-year rollout of netbooks, there is a lot of wireless infrastructure to put in place, which logistically will be large and certainly will have benefits for a broad section of local service providers.”
IDC PC analyst, Felipe Rego, said as there were no devices on the market that fulfilled all the computing requirements, companies would scramble to come up with something by the January 14 deadline.
“Looking at the market out there, we have just seen the introduction of Asus last year, and then Acer, HP, Dell and everybody else like Intel came to the market,” he said. “There is no clear competitor that offers everything that they are asking for. Probably they will come up with a new device, but on a time basis that is very difficult.”