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3/29/2011
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IBM To Support Australia's National Broadband Plan

$205 million deal calls for Big Blue to provide government-backed NBN with key software and consulting services.

IBM said Tuesday that it inked a deal to provide a range of tech services to Australia's state-backed national broadband network. The three-year agreement is said to be worth $205 million.

Under the pact, IBM will provide the National Broadband Network Co. with IT consulting services and software application maintenance and support services for network configuration, provisioning and billing.

NBN sells broadband capacity to local Australian ISPs such as Optus, though the country's largest telecom service provider, Telstra, maintains its own fiber network and has yet to commit to NBN.

Officials said the deal will help lower costs and improve operations at NBN, which the Australian government established in 2009 with an eye to providing a high-speed, coast-to-coast Internet backbone for the 3 million square-mile country by 2020.

"We need robust and highly automated core business and operational support systems with extensive self-service capabilities in order to sell services efficiently to service providers that resell them to households and businesses," said NBN CEO Mike Quigley.

"A key factor for us when choosing IBM for this important project was IBM's global and local track record for managing complex, mission critical programs," said Quigley.

For their part, IBM execs said the effort will help ensure Australia's competitiveness in the global digital economy. "This agreement means IBM is taking a lead role in a project that will help build a more productive, innovative, and prosperous Australia," said Andrew Steven, IBM's managing director for Australia and New Zealand.

"Using our extensive telecommunications industry expertise and proven applications and services capabilities, IBM will partner with NBN to deliver next-generation systems," said Stevens. IBM already provides NBN with infrastructure hosting services under a separate deal signed last year.

IT outsourcing is a key source of income for IBM. The company's Global Technology Services unit saw revenue increase 1%, to $10.2 billion, in the fourth quarter. IBM shares were up .89%, to $162.81, moments before the close of trading Tuesday.

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