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The dark horse in the contest to build Australia's National Broadband Network, Acacia Australia, has confirmed that it has lodged a bid and says it will exceed the RFP requirement of 12Mbps to 98 percent of the population by delivering at least this bandwidth to 100 percent "at an affordable cost" using a mix of technologies.

Acacia Australia's bid chairman and former deputy managing director of Telstra, Doug Campbell, said: "The Acacia NBN will deliver broadband as a utility infrastructure to all Australians, following the same models used in the gas and electricity markets. Like gas and electricity, there will be a clear separation between the operator of the core infrastructure and the many retailers of services that run over that infrastructure."

Campbell claimed that "the Acacia wholesale utility style model is emerging around the world as the preferred model for 21st century broadband. The model is simple and effective and doesn't require the returns that a traditional telecommunications retailer expects."

Acacia has yet to reveal any details of its members or its backers (it has a web site but it contains only the message "Thank you for visiting our website. Our website will be released at a later date") but Campbell said: "There is no existing carrier in the team, and this allows Acacia to take a clean sheet approach to the NBN...Acacia Australia's business model has attracted significant interest from financiers and infrastructure investors, and is committed to broad-based majority Australian ownership."

Acacia is planning to use a mix of technologies including fibre-to-the-home, fibre-to-the-node, wireless and satellite and claims to be "supported by some of the world's leading technology companies including Fujitsu, Nokia-Siemens Networks and Juniper."

The Australian newspaper reported in June that "The directors of Acacia Australia Group are Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce chairman Leon Kempler and former long- standing Telstra executive Lawrence Paratz.

"Other investors are heavyweights from Australia's conservative set such as Stephen Kenmar, a university friend of former Liberal treasurer Peter Costello, and Steven Skala, an ABC board member and vice-president of Deutsche Bank in Australia.

"As well, there is the former major shareholder of the Berri Juice group, Doug Shears, and the founder of Seek, Paul Bassat, as well as Andrew Bassat and Matthew Rockman.

Another large Acacia shareholder is David Mortimer AO, chairman of the Defence Procurement Advisory Board, deputy chairman of Australia Post and director of Macquarie Infrastructure Group and Leighton Holdings."

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