Telstra wins AU$39 million for data retention costs as grants revealed

AU$128.4 million about to flow, to 180 companies we now know will have our data

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Australia's attorney-general The Hon Senator George Brandis has announcedAU$128m in grants to telcos to fund their data retention efforts.

The announcement says “One hundred and eighty service providers will receive support through the programme.”

“Most providers will receive a grant of 80% of their implementation costs,” Brandis' announcement says. “All eligible small and medium businesses will receive a minimum Government contribution of 80% towards their implementation costs.”

Reading between the lines, El Reg thinks that means big carriers are wearing more of the costs while tiddlers look to be getting a higher portion of their costs.

A full list of the payments can be found here (PDF).

Here's the top 10 recipients.

Carrier Grant
Telstra Corporation Ltd $39,915,538.00
Vodafone Hutchison Australia Pty Ltd $28,848,519.00
Singtel Optus Pty Ltd $14,763,859.00
MNF Group Ltd $3,004,000.00
Broadband Solutions Pty Ltd $2,201,006.00
Vocus Fibre Pty Ltd $1,825,600.00
Exetel Pty Ltd $1,803,778.00
M2 Group Ltd $1,618,436.00
TPG Internet Pty Ltd $1,410,960.00

“Service providers will receive 50% of their grant immediately upon signing a funding agreement,” Brandis' missive says. “This will help businesses on their path to compliance. The remaining 50% will be paid upon the completion of reporting requirements.”

Fine words, but carriers have already had to do plenty of work to even apply for the grants, preparing a data retention plan as part of the application process for grants.

At least Australian carriers now have a little certainty about funding, having previously been told to watch this space without any nominated timeframe for an announcement on the amount of money heading their way.

News of the grants makes today a happy day for telcos, who now know what they can work with. Vendors will also be smiling: they can now solidify their proposals to carriers and ISPs. The Register is aware that Dell ran an event for those with data retention requirements, pointing out the many fine qualities of its storage kit and cunning of its consulting capabilities. Vulture South expects it was not alone and won't be the last to do so, as once government cheques land carriers will need to demonstrate progress towards the government's goal of having them store metadata on Australians' conversations and online activities.

Metadata retention has been adopted as policy because, in Brandis' words, “Communications data is used in nearly every counter-terrorism, counter-espionage and major crime investigation. It is also essential for the investigation of child abuse and child pornography offences, which are frequently carried out online.” ®

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