Huge surprise (not): Telstra wins ABC telco deal


blog In what is not precisely the most unexpected news of the century, Telstra and the ABC have announced that they are once again planning to cosy up so that the telco can provide sweet, sweet telecommunications services to help the broadcaster, well, broadcast stuff. Those of you who’ve been around the block a few times will recall that the ABC has signed more than a few contracts of this nature with Telstra over the years — take this mobile contract in 2004, for example. It’s just a case of one former government monopoly and one current government broadcaster getting together in a continued marriage of convenience. What would really be news would be if the ABC ever opted to cheat on the big T with anybody else. The media release:

“Telstra and the ABC have signed a new five year agreement for the provision of managed data, mobile and voice services, as well as managing the Corporation’s transition to a digital video platform for the high speed distribution of media.

In doing so the ABC will become the first organisation in Australia to adopt Telstra’s advanced new Digital Video Network which will allow its newsrooms around the world to more efficiently send and receive content for its broad range of radio, television and multi-media programs. The technology will allow the ABC to acquire, convert, manage and distribute a more comprehensive suite of broadcast media formats, such as HD video, audio or data within a single, highly scalable network platform.

The new agreement continues the long relationship between the two organisations, helping the Corporation deliver additional cost savings across its divisions and enabling greater investment in content generation and distribution. Paul Geason, Group Managing Director, Telstra Enterprise and Government, said the company was pleased to partner with the ABC in its efforts to deliver leading news and entertainment content across the country.

“Telstra has had a long history of partnering with the ABC to help deliver important information services to all Australians,” Mr Geason said. “Our partnership with the ABC means that they can continue to realise the benefits from the latest IT services and technology, and ensure the ABC can continue to provide a high quality broadcasting service for all Australians.”

Under the agreement, Telstra will also provide the ABC with managed data networks, mobile data and voice services, fixed voice services, and digital video network services through the new Telstra Digital Video Network.

ABC Chief Operating Officer, David Pendleton, said that the five year agreement to secure and manage ABC networks ensures the ABC can reliably and efficiently deliver content to our audience across radio, television, online and mobile. As a Telstra managed services customer, the ABC’s network will be monitored around the clock by more than 140 highly-skilled staff at the Telstra Managed Network Operations Centre. Telstra also operates a T4- certified Security Operations Centre to provide proactive network security for networks, applications and devices.”

Image credit: Luis Lopez, royalty free


  1. As you said, nothing surprising here for anyone with knowledge in the area. Although some may be surprised to hear that Telstra actually supply not just telecomms, but IT services to many govt departments and connected agencies.

    Centrelink is a good example (and also a good example of why it’s a terrible idea, with frequent server failures and outages affecting offices and call centres for many hours at a time, putting further pressure on already over-congested services. But you know, it’s all too easy to blame productivity on the lowest level customer-facing employees who are legally constrained from talking about it or even defending themselves when the Minister or spokespeople shift blame down to them despite years of constant and consistent failures by inefficient and unreliable IT systems. But that would bring a little too much unwanted attention to the managers/the Minister/Telstra – far easier to bully &/or sack staff who are bound by contractual gag orders ;-) ).

    Sorry, I realise that may seem a little OT, but this sort of blame/deny culture is endemic with sweetheart contracts of this nature in my experience.

    • Hmmm … telling it straight Trevor!!

  2. Telstras network is the only one that works reliably out side of large towns/cities, so I guess it makes sense they’d go with them.

    • If Optus hadnt curled up into the fetal position (from an investment POV) after the cables wars they might actually have a decent national network which they could sell truly national services on! As it is the Optus network barely supports their Mobile and HFC networks e.g. many of their Mobile towers are connected via microwave links and not fibre.

  3. “The technology will allow the ABC to acquire, convert, manage and distribute a more comprehensive suite of broadcast media formats, such as HD video”

    I’d like to know what they mean by this. HD content delivered over the net to the consumer? That would be interesting and rather awesome, given they don’t even broadcast any real HD over the air.

    For those that don’t know: ABC24 is an up-scaled 720p channel (as it used to be up-scaled ABC1 HD before News24) which is obviously a total waste of bandwidth. ABC1 on the other hand, which could easily benefit from showing true HD 720p/1080i content (particularly given all BBC content is now produced and distributed in HD) remains standard definition.

    The above could change when analogue TV is switched off, by swapping spectrum from ABCNews24 to the primary ABC1 channel, but there’s been no indication of plans from ABC about this.

    Its also my understanding that when analogue TV is switched off, the old spectrum will be auctioned off, most likely for use with LTE and further emergency service channels. If however the stations can buy back that 20Mhz of analogue spectrum for their own use, this could be used for newer digital TV services using MPEG4 (which could mean at least a further 3 720p/1080i channels could easily occupy that spectrum). The only problem being most people would need a new STB to decode MPEG4.

    Basically if you care about picture and sound quality, then Digital TV in Australia is an over-compressed, standard definition disaster. The only true HD content (which is still way over-compressed) is from OneHD, 7Mate and Gem. And the content second-rate secondary channels show is generally of zero interest to me. And as far as sound is concerned, no network bothers to broadcast anything in Dolby 5.1 any more, even though AC3 audio only occupies 384kbps of bandwidth.

    tl,dr: Bring on the ABC in 1080p/Dolby 5.1 ! :)

    • iirc, the ABC are planning on taking their channels onto the NBN in an extension of iView likely using the NBN’s upcoming MultiCast service.

      • I’ve heard similar rumours, but nothing from the ABC directly. With the uncertainty of the NBN’s future I’m trying not to get my hopes up. Even a 8-10mbps 720p multicast service would be awesome, and leave more than enough bandwidth for other usage, for people on 25mbps and above.

        There’s no doubt IPTV is the future. Its just a matter of when.

  4. To be fair, who else are they gonna pick?

    Optus? Not if they want reliable, high speed mobile data. I’m sure Singtel/Optus can deliver the goods for “newsroom” data and IT services. But mobile will let them down badly.


    *Rolls around on floor laughing *

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