The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) wants to replace an "ageing" phone system with IP telephony, according to a request for tender posted Tuesday.

The Council said its existing PBX telephony system in Canberra and Melbourne is more than 20 years old. The Council has 220 staff in Canberra and 25 staff in Melbourne. The government body's data centre is in Canberra.

The new IP telephony system should include a fully managed service and teleconferencing, the Council said. It should be expandable to support video conferencing and unified communications in the future, it said.

"NHMRC's proposed PBX replacement solution will be a 'user centric' Managed Internet Protocol (IP) Telephony system that will provide a platform for potential future business efficiencies," the Council said.

"The solution must be compatible with NHMRC's existing IT Infrastructure and scalable to allow for other multimedia sessions on the data network, including video conferencing in the future."

Landline voice communications between the Council's Canberra and Melbourne offices, and to other places in either city, should use the existing data network, not the existing ISDN network, it said.

"All other voice calls, including calls to mobiles from a landline, would still use the existing ISDN network.

"In the event the data network fails, the solution must fail over to the ISDN network, adding a level of redundancy for the Canberra and Melbourne offices."

The Council has proposed a contract with an initial three-year term, with an option to extend for an additional two terms of one year each. The Council said other Australian Commonwealth agencies may want to opt in for some or all of the services during the life of the contract.

"The preferred tenderer will be required to provide the services to these other agencies on the same terms and conditions, including prices (where relevant), as those specified in the contract.

"NHMRC does not make any guarantees or assurances that any additional Australian Government agencies will require any services or any volume of services during the term of the contract."

Tenders are due by 3 January at 11 am AEST.

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