Telstra (ASX:TLS) has signed on the NSW Department of Education (DET) as its latest major fibre optic customer in a deal worth $280 million.
More than 2400 DET sites will be connected by over 4500km of fibre optic cabling under the four-year deal contract. According to a Telstra spokesperson, the each school will have variable broadband speeds of between 4Mbps-100Mbps depending on individual needs and spikes in demand.
The contract represents the latest of three major education-related broadband deals signed in the past 12 months. In July, the Catholic church signed a $146m deal with Telstra to connect more than 1550 education sites to a high-speed broadband network.
In November 2008, the Victorian Government worked with Telstra to upgrade its schools’ connections from 4Mbps-10Mbps by July 2009.
But the NSW DET deal puts the state on the forefront of education broadband. “The network will be the largest in Australia and one of the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere,” NSW minister for education and training, Verity Firth, said in a statement.
The announcement also comes just one day after the telco announced it completed its Melbourne hybrid fibre coaxial cable (HFC) broadband network upgrade ahead of schedule and boosted speeds to 100Mbps.
Telstra’s aggressive targeting of long-term education contracts and major upgrades of fibre optic projects come despite it facing structural separation by the Federal Government. Many analysts say it is a prudent move by the telco to improve its position in backroom negotiations with the Government, which is seeking a smooth transition to a National Broadband Network.