Conroy cans Telstra wireless broadband threats

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Conroy cans Telstra wireless broadband threats

Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy has dismissed the threat of a wireless broadband network from Telstra competing with the NBN on level speed terms because ‘the laws of physics say that’s not right’.

After announcing it had been excluded from the RFP process yesterday, Telstra’s chief executive Sol Trujillo claimed the telco would look to wireless broadband if the government introduced legislation to prevent it overbuilding the NBN with a rival fibre network.

Telstra claims its Next G network is capable of speeds up to 14Mbps, and it has also recently tested eHSPA/HSPA+ technology to bring those speeds up to 21Mbps.

But Conroy has urged Australians to ‘temper’ the wireless speeds touted by Telstra against ‘the two laws of physics, which are immutable’ when attempting to compare them to the anticipated 12Mbps speeds to be offered via the NBN.

“The great difference between a fibre optic network and a wireless network is that a wireless network is a shared network,” said Conroy.

“The more people using the same wireless tower, the slower the speeds. You can claim to deliver 14… 21 or LTE in a few years can deliver 50Mbps, but that’s providing you are standing underneath the tower at midnight, and you’re the only person using the network.”

However, the government is more concerned with the impending threat of legal action – either from Telstra over its removal from the RFP process, or from other consortiums if Telstra is allowed back in at a later date.

Conroy said four different sources of legal advice sourced internally within the department, from the Australian government’s solicitor probity advisor, the Solicitor-General and Corrs Chambers Westgarth had been taken before the decision was made to kick Telstra out.

“No-one’s suggested it at this stage but potentially people have reserved their rights on legal action,” said Conroy.

“They [Telstra] clearly have a different legal view to the legal view reached by the expert panel.”

He also added: “It would be unfair to the other bidders for us to, after the bids had closed, to reopen them to admit one of the bidders who had failed to supply all the information.

“There would be legal and financial risks to the Commonwealth Government if we were to reopen the process, possibly from other potential bidders.”
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