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IT nets $73m in NSW Budget

IT nets $73m in NSW Budget

The NSW government is slated to spend some $73 million on IT-oriented projects in 2006-07.

John Della Bosca, NSW Minister for Commerce, said the state's strategic ICT plan will be released "shortly"; however, a prime direction for the Chief Information Office, under this budget funding, will be to drive the rollout of the government broadband service.

In the 2006-07 NSW Budget handed down last night, Della Bosca outlined the state's plan, saying $1 million has been directed towards the state's broadband service, $24.9 million to the government radio network, $16.9 million dedicated for long-term radio strategy, $13 million for the government licensing system, $5.2 million for the mobile data radio strategy, $3 million for electronic services and $1 million for the Commonwealth Communication Infrastructure fund. The NSW government's Chief Information Office provided strategic direction for the funding.

Della Bosca said the long-term radio strategy aims to improve the security of government communications through digitization and encryption and also includes trialling wireless technologies. All government agency radio terminals will eventually become "digital capable".

"The government will be replacing 6150 radios at a cost of $10.1 million this year for agencies such as the Fire Brigade, State Rail Authority (SRA), Sydney Water, Energy Australia, Health, Waterways, the Premier's Department and the National Parks and Wildlife Service," Della Bosca said.

"The government radio network is one of the largest mobile radio networks in the world providing radio coverage for emergency services across about one-third of New South Wales.

"As well as maintaining the existing network, this year we will be expanding sites, improving coverage in sites such as shopping malls and other black spots."

The number of agencies joining the state broadband service is expected to rise this year, with 750 sites already part of the network and another 400 sites slated in 2006-07.

In 2005, the NSW government announced a five-year deal to Soul Pattinson Telecommunications to supply the core network for the $300 million broadband project, and now Soul Converge Communications will partner with Austar to provide wireless broadband across 24 rural communities.

Della Bosca said the guarantee of agency business convinced Soul to build a new, high-speed backbone throughout NSW, which has so far helped the government accelerate online learning and advanced health services, as well as videoconferencing of court proceedings.

Opposition leader Peter Debnam was unavailable for comment. NSW CIO Paul Edgecombe was also unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

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