News Release

South West Victoria Project a Model for Regional Telecommunications

WARRNAMBOOL, Australia -- 20 June 2000 -- The Victorian
Jun 20, 2000

WARRNAMBOOL, Australia -- 20 June 2000 -- The Victorian Minister for State and Regional Development, John Brumby, today unveiled the South West Alliance of Rural Hospitals (SWARH) AUD$9.8 million state-of-the-art Internet-based communications systems, SWARHnet, in Warrnambool, Victoria.

This initiative, which includes a $4 million expansion of AAPT's VicOne network makes broadband services available in the region at substantially less than existing prices.

SWARH has worked with the Victorian Government, AAPT, Cisco Systems and Com Tech Communications to build SWARHnet, a high-speed, Internet-based switched network, linking SWARH's cooperative of 12 separate hospitals spanning 33 sites in the south-western region of Victoria. This network will enable participating hospitals to shift all their data, voice and video networks onto the single network, saving an estimated $400,000 annually.

As part of this project, AAPT provided broadband connectivity to each site, Com Tech Communications was responsible for the integration and management of the project within the hospitals. The network is based on state-of-art Cisco and Ericsson equipment.

Hospitals linked to VicOne from today are: Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Portland, Heywood, Mortlake, Penshurst, Hamilton, Coleraine, Casterton, Terang, Timboon, Apollo Bay, Camperdown, Lismore, Colac and Birregurra.

The VicOne network is a joint 5 year initiative between AAPT and the Victorian Government to make broadband networks available and affordable across Victoria. The network is one of the most advanced switched data communications networks in the world with over 3,500 sites connecting connected to 44 points of presence across Victoria. AAPT provides a range of bandwidth services from 64Kbps upwards and local call dialup to over 98% of the population. Customers can choose to outsource their end-to-end data network, including router hardware, design and implementation, to AAPT.

The VicOne concept bridges the gap between the internet and dedicated data private networks by providing similar "anywhere to anywhere" functionality using standards-based TCP/IP protocols but overcomes some of limitations by offering virtual private networks and true quality of service. These additional features make VicOne suitable for security sensitive clients such as financial and customer information, while supporting advanced multimedia applications such as desktop videoconferencing.

AAPT Chief Executive Officer, Mr Larry Williams, said the connection of SWARH to VicOne clearly demonstrated the significant benefits now available to regional Victoria as a result of the establishment of competitive telecommunications infrastructure throughout the State.

Mr Williams said the VicOne/SWARHnet relationship was an excellent example of how regional areas could gain access to telecommunications and Internet services equivalent to those available in metropolitan areas at a competitive and affordable price.

"VicOne/SWARHnet is a model that can be applied throughout regional Victoria. AAPT is continuing to develop and expand the VicOne infrastructure and I have no doubt that other regions will want to emulate SWARH's innovative approach to development of telecommunications infrastructure."

Com Tech, as the lead contractor and integrator, was responsible for the management of the project, which included liaising with the various subcontractors to ensure a seamless solution. Com Tech was also responsible for providing co-ordination and integration expertise for the SWARHnet project, handling the integration with the radio networks for all 33 sites, as well as rolling out the Voice over IP, integrating existing data networks and assisting with a review of server management strategies.

SWARH also utilised Com Tech's Enterprise Management centre to provide outsourcing and management of network devices such as switches and routers.

"SWARH wanted to deliver all communications and services over a single cable, our network configuration and security expertise ensured we had a clear understanding of the various technologies involved and how to integrate them into their environments," said Mr Steve Nola, Victorian State Manager, Com Tech Communications.

"SWARH has taken full advantage of the technology to ensure they are well equipped to deliver the services patients need both now and in the future," continued Mr Nola.

Cisco Systems, the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet, demonstrated the SWARHnet technology at today's connection ceremony in Warrnambool.

Cisco engineers demonstrated the power of SWARHnet by showing a telephone call between two of Cisco's new 7900 series IP (Internet Protocol) Phones, a video conferencing session over the Internet and a wireless IP connected Pen-based tablet, all running on the same IP infrastructure. Traditionally, these technologies would have required three separate infrastructures.

More than 3000 Cisco 7900 series IP telephones will be deployed within SWARHnet over a 36 month period to replace its traditional PABX systems. The deployment of Cisco Internet technology across SWARHnet will allow SWARH to take advantage of a host of value added IP services, such as centrally managed electronic directories, integration with data applications and unprecedented flexibility in adds, moves and changes. As an example of the benefits of IP to SWARH, users of the 7900 Series IP phones will be able to unplug their phone in one location and plug it in at another in the network, with the extension number and all pre-programmed features following the user to the new location.

"Impressive efficiency gains can made using Internet Protocol for communications, and SWARH's vision to migrate to this technology means that its staff will be able to make many calls free, and most STD phone calls at local rates," said Terry Walsh, Cisco Systems Managing Director Australia & New Zealand.

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