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  • 24 December 2003 12:55

AARNet acquires NEXTGen capacity for National Research and Education Network

The Australian Academic and Research Network (AARNet), the universities’ specialist telecommunications carrier, has reached an agreement with Leighton Contractors Pty Ltd to acquire access to the NextGen network for a period of 15 years.

The new capacity will start to come “on-line” in 2004 and will provide tens of gigabits per second capacity across the country.

AARNet is one of the success stories of the Australian telecommunications industry, having been formed in 1989 and selling its commercial customer base to Telstra in 1995, shaping what was to become Telstra Bigpond™.

The Australian Federal Government will provide $25 million over the next two years to the university sector to support the development of the next generation Australian Research and Education Network (AREN), which is developed and managed by AARNet.

NextGen was recently acquired by Leighton Contractors Pty Ltd and has the potential to provide very high bandwidth links that service metropolitan and regional centres, resulting in an educational and research network infrastructure comparable to the most advanced available in North America, Europe and Japan.

AARNet will establish a backbone and a series of Virtual Private Networks across the NextGen network to address the communications needs of both metropolitan and regional universities, allowing them to fully participate in collaborative research and in the development and use of innovative applications and services.

Professor Deane Terrell, Chair of the AARNet Board said “we are creating a great opportunity for Australia and we must seize that opportunity to enable and stimulate collaboration in all its forms, between and among teaching and research institutions around the world.”

This project will position Australia at the leading edge of global, network-enabled collaboration and will fundamentally change the way in which Australian researchers engage in both national and international initiatives,” he added.

Mary Fleming, AARNet’s Director of Business Development said “AARNet sees this as a unique opportunity to partner with an organisation whose skill sets are complementary to ours. Leighton Contractors bring their expertise in building infrastructure to the partnership, while AARNet enjoys a long history of developing and operating leading edge research and educational networks in this country.”

The AARNet board believed that a strategic relationship with a key corporate partner who shared their vision for the use of the network was an essential element.

“The Leighton Group understands and appreciates our goals for the use of the NextGen network, particularly in regional areas and we look forward to advancing Australia’s research efforts on the international stage,” she added.

The statement comes only days after the Minister for Education, Science and Training, the Hon Dr Brendan Nelson, MP announced that the Australian Government is contributing $16.4 million over three years for very high bandwidth connections for Australian researchers to the advanced research and education networks of North America, Europe, Asia and Central and South America via Hawaii and the US west coast.

Chair of the Government’s Infrastructure Task Force, Dr Mike Sargent, who played a pivotal role in the Government’s Australian Research and Education Network (AREN) initiative, was delighted to see industry and the research community working together and believes this partnership will present Australia with the opportunity to participate more effectively in the global economy. “It is most rewarding to see the national and international developments coming together to reduce the cost of use of very high bandwidth for Australian researchers,” he said. “It effectively removes the economic barriers to Australia’s participation in the global research and education economy.” -- Ends --- For further information, please contact: Mary Fleming Director, Business Development AARNet Phone: +61 2 9449 9146 Mobile: +61 421 618 110 Email:


AARNet Pty Ltd (APL) is the company that operates Australia's Academic and Research Network (AARNet). APL is a not-for-profit company whose shareholders are 37 Australian universities and the CSIRO. APL is a licensed Australian carrier (No 61 under the Australian Telecommunications Act 1997).

APL provides high-capacity leading-edge research and education networks for the tertiary education and research sector communities and their research partners. AARNet serves over 800,000 end users who access the network through local area networks at member institutions.

AARNet is recognised internationally as Australia’s National Research and Education Network and is represented on the International Committee of the Board of Internet2, the Coordinating Committee for Intercontinental Research Networking, the International Task Force on Advanced Networks, and the Asia Pacific Advanced Network Backbone Committee. It is engaged with the European Commission on research networking and the support for e-science.

APL is working closely with the Australian Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST - ) to facilitate the deployment of the Commonwealth Government’s Australian Research and Education Network (AREN) initiative

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