SingTel-led group to bid for Australian broadband network

Singapore's SingTel will lead a group of companies in a bid to build a high-speed broadband network in Australia, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said the group, to be called G9, would included SingTel's Australian unit Optus, PowerTel, Macquarie Telecom Group, Soul, iiNet and New Zealand Telecom's AAPT unit, the group said in a statement.

Details of the participation of individual member companies would be determined as the bid is finalized, the Associated Press report said.

Broadband has become a key political issue ahead of a national election later this year amid concerns Australia's broadband speeds lag well behind those of other nations, the report said.

The Australian government recently announced it would conduct an open and competitive bidding process and legislate to enable a new high speed broadband network for city areas, the report said.

Last month, it set up an expert panel to consider proposals from telecommunications groups.

'As a first step, we look forward to working with the minister's expert task force to identify the issues that the government will need to consider in assessing competing bids, including the regulatory changes sought by bidders,' Optus CEO Paul O'Sullivan was quoted by the report as saying.