"The knives are out" : Telstra's take on the NBN

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"The knives are out" : Telstra's take on the NBN

Telstra has hit out at its critics with claims that the release of the National Broadband Network (NBN) regulatory submissions has lifted the veil to reveal a unified attack on the telco.

Telstra group managing director for Public Policy and Communications, Dr Phil Burgess, said many of the submissions showed key players have no interest in building out high-speed broadband, providing better services for consumers or real competition.

“This is demonstrated by the fact that they all seek a Government-mandated separation of Telstra that would weaken and undermine Australia's only integrated, nation-wide communications network just so the slashers can gain an advantage in specific markets where they compete,” he said.

According to Dr Burgess Telstra believes many of these regulatory submissions have exposed the real agendas of Telstra's competitors and would-be competitors, who show no interest in “building a 21st century, open access network”.

"If they get their way, Telstra will be broken up into about a dozen separate companies. It's like watching a B-grade slasher movie but, in this film, the knives are out for millions of Telstra customers and shareholders,” he said. "These NBN regulatory submissions would be a joke if broadbanding Australia weren't so important for the nation's future.”

Burgess claimed that Vodafone and Singtel Optus want to use the government to cripple Telstra. “This is a company that was to receive nearly $1 billion of taxpayer's money if they could come up with a plan for building a network to regional and rural Australia. After eight months, they could not produce a plan and the Government removed their access to the public treasury. They are back at the trough again,” he said.

He said that in an example of breathtaking hypocrisy, it is interesting to note that Singtel is arguing vehemently for separation of Telstra in Australia while also arguing against separation of itself in its home country of Singapore. “If separation is such a great idea in their offshore market of Australia, why is it such a bad idea in their home market of Singapore?,” he said.

"Mobiles operators want to see Telstra's mobiles business broken up; ISPs want BigPond broken up; content providers want BigPond and FOXTEL broken up; telcos want to put an axe to the lot; and Acacia wants to shield its NBN from all competition, even from wireless. Google, of course, wants everything for free."

Dr Burgess said the other telling fact was that while the "slashers" all call for some form of separation, none of them offer any evidence on how separation will improve investment, innovation or service to customers. Nor do the slashers provide any clear evidence of how Telstra is abusing its market position or acting inappropriately, he added. They simply assert that separation is necessary because they want it.

"No one in their right mind would go down the separation path, which lies somewhere between crazy and stupid," Dr Burgess said. “Given the members of G9 (Terria) can't even agree on some of the most fundamental building blocks of the NBN, they should be more worried about their own separation.”

Telstra believes this exercise has simply provided a forum for all of Telstra's competitors to present the Government with a wish-list to win through a political process what they cannot win in the marketplace - a familiar story, claimed Burgess.

"The most likely outcome in all the gaming that is now going on is even more delay in building the NBN - or, even worse, that the NBN may never be built at all," he said.
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