REANNZ takes international network contract to market

Current contract expires in March. National network also up for grabs

Research and Education Advanced Network New Zealand (REANNZ) is putting its international network supply contract up for tender, seeking "high capacity, high speed, uncontested and transparent" connectivity for its KAREN research network.

REANNZ’s current international network contract, provided by Verizon through the Southern Cross Cable, expires on 23 March, 2010.

Last year, REANNZ led a tender process for a second international cable after the former Labour government allocated $15 million from the 2008 budget to kick-start a new cable build.

However, that was cancelled after only one compliant tender was received.

Kordia is widely understood to have been one of the tenderers, with Australian partner Pipe Networks, which has just lit its new Pacific cable to Australia.

Kordia is still pursuing its plan, trying to fund the project with a combination of its own money, that of foundation customers, of which REANNZ is potentially one, and through borrowing. Kordia wants to award a contract in early 2010.

Since then two other potential network builders have emerged, South Pacific Island Network (Spin) and Southern Cross itself.

The current tender is for connectivity rather than for a new cable. REANNZ CEO Donald Clark says the organisation is open to any tender response that meets the minimum requirements.

"There are a lot of people who sell and provide international connectivity out of New Zealand," he says, referring to tier 1 wholesalers.

KAREN, which has around 70 members at around 120 sites around New Zealand, enables researchers, educators and innovators to exchange information and collaborate nationally and internationally by providing uncontested network capacity.

Monthly data traffic across all ports on KAREN is currently between 1PB and 3PB, tender documents say.

The current international network service, through the Southern Cross Cable, provides connectivity between KAREN points of presence at North Shore, Auckland, the Pacific Wave facility in Seattle, USA and Equinix in Sydney.

REANNZ’s indicative maximum budget for the services is $16 million.

REANNZ has asked for the ability to terminate the Services as at 15 December 2012 be written into the contract "if there is a change in effective control of REANNZ or the REANNZ board determines that its business is no longer viable".

REANNZ has also put its national connectivity, currently provided by TelstraClear, out to market, saying it wishes to transition KAREN to a new architecture to have greater "control of and access to the optical transmission layer".

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