Ultra-fast deal for all federal MPs
Electorial offices will be wired up. Photo: Paul Jones
All federal politicians will have ultra-fast internet cables installed in their electorate office within weeks as part of a new $23 million telecommunications contract.
The upgrade comes after widespread complaints from politicians and their staff about broadband speeds in suburban offices.
This will give politicians access to the same download speeds as the national broadband network, but years before it is widely available to all Australians.
But the upgrade has nothing to do with NBN Co. It is part of a commercial contract awarded by the Department of Parliamentary Services to Telstra last year. A DPS spokeswoman said it was Telstra's idea to upgrade electorate offices from a mixture of copper, satellite and cable to fibre-optic cable.
''Having a fibre-optic infrastructure supporting the connectivity to each electorate office allows the bandwidth or network speeds to increase without being limited by the cabling infrastructure,'' the spokeswoman said.
Meanwhile, ordinary retail customers must wait until they get a fibre connection from NBN Co, which is expected to take 10 years to roll out.
Telstra has already upgraded 84 electorate offices and will finish upgrading all 252 by the end of March, depending on ''the ease of installing the cabling infrastructure''. A company spokesman said speeds to electorate offices would depend ''on the services the various offices have opted for'', which is part of a confidential contract.
Last year a DPS report on information technology services for politicians found ''virtually every interviewee mentioned the speed of the electorate office connection as an issue. In some offices it was claimed that the speed of the link was little better than dial-up.''
Telstra's three-year contract includes broadcasting and telephone services and was awarded by the Department of Finance and Deregulation, according to the government's Austender website.