OPEL Networks

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OPEL Networks Pty Limited
Former type Joint venture
Industry Telecommunications
Fate Defunct
Founded 2006
Defunct 2008
Headquarters Australia
Products Broadband
Wireless Broadband
Website www.opelnetworks.com.au

OPEL Networks Pty Limited was a telecommunications provider that was to establish wholesale broadband services in regional areas of Australia in the form of WiMAX and ADSL2+ via a network of DSLAMs. The network was also to include terrestrial and undersea backhaul. The project is now defunct.

It was a 50:50 joint venture between Optus and Elders.

Broadband Connect Funding[edit]

In June 2006, the Australian Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) under the then coalition government called for expressions of interest for discussion of how to invest up to A$878 million in funding under Broadband Connect program to provide greater access to broadband services in rural and regional areas at prices comparable to services available in metropolitan areas, $500 million of which was envisaged as being available to infrastructure projects.[1] On 2006-09-21, the government announced they would invest up to $600 million in broadband infrastructure projects in rural, regional and remote Australia under this program. Applications for funding were open until 2006-11-30.[2]

On 2007-06-18, in the lead up to a federal election, OPEL Networks was announced as the sole successful bidder, receiving the entire $600 million in funding under the program, as well as an additional allocation of $358 million. This was to be combined with $917 million to be invested by the OPEL Networks joint venture.[3][4] The awarding of additional funding was met with some debate.[5]

The funding agreement was signed on 2007-09-09, which was dependent upon further planning by OPEL and confirmation that it would reach the agreed levels of coverage.[6][7] The then federal opposition Communications spokesman stated that they would honour the agreement, a stance maintained after winning government two months later, despite their own competing National Broadband Network proposal.[8]

We have said all along, will honour existing contracts. There are a number of performance hurdles the OPEL contracts have to meet. That's all part of the contract.

On 2008-04-02, it was announced that the funding agreement had been cancelled.[9] The minister cited OPEL's failure to meet the terms of the contract,[10] specifically that analysis of OPEL's detailed maps revealed that it would reach only 72% of under-served premises, a claim refuted by the OPEL joint venture partners, who nevertheless stated that the project would not proceed.[11][12]

Network Infrastructure[edit]

The OPEL Networks rollout was to include:[13][14][15]

The venture was also to acquire long term leased links from Optus (10,200 km) and other providers such as Nextgen Networks (2,200 km), as well as establishing a Tasmanian link using Basslink, providing OPEL with a protected link to the island.

The selection of WiMAX technology was questioned by some groups, including the then Federal Opposition[16] and competitor Telstra,[17] leading to further debate.[18] [19] [20] [21]

On 2008-01-07, OPEL acquired spectrum licences from Austar, conditional upon approval of its funding agreement, enabling it to deploy WiMAX using licenced spectrum rather than using unlicenced spectrum as previously planned.[22][23]


While Optus was to be contracted to build the network, OPEL Networks was to operate its network on behalf of its owners Optus and Elders, offering wholesale services back to them as customers, as well as to other third-party broadband retailers. Elders intended to enter the telecommunications market by selling OPEL services from its existing retail channels.[4]


  1. ^ "Broadband Connect: Request For Expression Of Interest" (PDF). Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. June 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  2. ^ "$600 million Broadband Connect program launched" (Press release). Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. 2006-09-21. Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  3. ^ "Australia Connected: Fast affordable broadband for all Australians" (Press release). Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. 2007-06-18. Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  4. ^ a b "Broadband Access and Choice for rural and regional Australia" (PDF). OPEL / Elders. 2007-06-18. Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  5. ^ Marris, Sid (2007-06-26). "Labor whips up broadband anger". Australian IT. Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  6. ^ "New OPEL Project Underway" (Press release). Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. 2007-09-09. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  7. ^ "Optus 50 percent joint venture signs funding agreement with Government for rural and regional Australia broadband network" (Press release). SingTel. 2007-09-10. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  8. ^ Moore, Ali (2007-12-05). "Conroy discusses Australia's digital future". Lateline Business (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  9. ^ "Canned: $1bn rural broadband Opel deal". Dow Jones Newswires with AAP via The Australian. 2008-04-02. Retrieved 2008-04-02. [dead link]
  10. ^ "OPEL Networks Funding Agreement not to proceed" (Press release). Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. 2008-04-02. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  11. ^ "Optus responds to Government's termination of OPEL contract" (Press release). Optus. 2008-04-02. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  12. ^ "Government Advises Termination of OPEL Contract" (Press release). Futuris. 2008-04-02. Retrieved 2008-04-02. 
  13. ^ "OPEL Network Fact Sheet" (Press release). Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  14. ^ "OPEL". Optus. Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  15. ^ "Broadband Connect Fact Sheet" (Press release). Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  16. ^ Rossi, Sandra (2007-06-19). "Opposition leader labels wireless technology as "second rate"". CIO. Retrieved 2007-07-14. [dead link]
  17. ^ Bradlow, Hugh (2007-06-26). "Letter" (PDF). Chief Technology Officer, Telstra. Archived from the original on 2007-09-02. Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  18. ^ Hoy, Greg (2007-06-28). "Questions raised over wireless broadband capabilities". The 7:30 Report (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 2007-07-15. 
  19. ^ Hoy, Greg (2007-06-28). "Web Extra: Extended interview with Paul O'Sullivan". The 7:30 Report (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 2007-07-15. 
  20. ^ Hoy, Greg (2007-06-28). "Web Extra: Extended interview with Geoff Booth". The 7:30 Report (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 2007-07-15. 
  21. ^ Moore, Ali (2007-06-18). "Optus chief speaks on future of Aust broadband". Lateline Business (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 2007-07-15. 
  22. ^ O'Sullivan, Matt (2008-01-08). "Opel nets vital wireless licences". Business Day (The Age). Retrieved 2008-01-08. 
  23. ^ Tabakoff, Nick (2008-01-08). "Changing channels: Austar dumps broadband for pay-TV". The Australian. Retrieved 2008-01-08. [dead link]

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