In a surprise move, the government of Australia bypassed three domestic and international bidders and instead unveiled plans to deploy an A$43 billion (US$31 billion) national broadband network through a public-private partnership that would carry out, in the words of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, “the most ambitious, far-reaching and long-term nation building infrastructure project ever undertaken by an Australian government.” Announced Tuesday, the government’s decision ends a months-long tender process that had attracted bids from Optus Networks, Axia Netmedia of Canada, and Acacia, a domestic consortium. (Telstra, Australia’s dominant telecom service provider, had also competed for rights to build the network, but the government rejected the company’s proposal in December on grounds that it failed to meet minimum requirements.) Reportedly, the government decided to scrap the tender process after being advised by independent experts that “none of the national proposals offered value for the money.” Instead, the government plans to build the new network through a new entity that would be majority-owned by the government and in which private ownership would be capped at 49%. The network—which is slated to bring transmission speeds of up to 100 megabits per second to 90% of Australia’s population—would be financed initially through A$4.7 billion in government funding, with additional funds to be raised through the sale of “Aussie infrastructure” bonds to retail and institutional investors. Companies that had bid previously for rights to build the network, including Telstra, will be invited to participate in the project. The government also intends to sell its stake after five years, although the network is expected to take as long as eight years to complete.