Australian Fibre to the Home still on the table, says Conroy

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Australian Fibre to the Home still on the table, says Conroy

Fibre to the Home proposals will be welcome among bids for Australia's national high speed fibre network, according to Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy.

Speaking at the launch of PIPE Networks' $200 million submarine cable link to Guam, Senator Conroy said the bidding process for the national fibre network will begin "in the next couple of weeks".

A key Labor election promise, the new Federal government plans to contribute $4.7 billion of taxpayers' money towards the project, with the private sector equalling the contribution. The plan is at odds with Telstra's plans to build its own national fibre network.

"We'll be making the documents, and that process, available to anyone who wants to put a bid in on Fibre to the Node or Fibre to the Home," Conroy said.

"If people want to come forward with a Fibre to the Home proposal we would welcome that. It obviously has to stand up on its own merits, but our $4.7 billion would be available if someone wants to put forward a Fibre to the Home proposal."

The government intends to conduct an "open and transparent competitive bid process" rather than a tender process, Conroy says.

"It's slightly different from a tender process. That will enable us to do some negotiations towards the end of the process. After people have put their bids in, we are then able to engage them in discussions."

"We're not going to be sitting behind closed doors trying to twist Graeme Samuels' arm to get him to sign up for something that's not good for Australian consumers, as Helen Coonan and the previous government did. We're about building an open and transparent network that will be accessible - it's what we call open access, which means everyone will be able to use this network. That will drive competition."
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