Comms Minister Fletcher roasts telcos in speech

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Comms Minister Fletcher roasts telcos in speech

Vocus as serial dumpee, NBN as ‘evil monopoly’ and more.

Australia's Communications and Cyber Safety Minister Paul Fletcher has roasted several telcos, and the industry in general.

Delivering the light-hearted keynote at the Australian Communications Industry Awards last night, Fletcher opened his brief address by remarking that he’s enjoying his new job as minister, which he’s done since May 2019, in part because so little has changed since his days as an Optus executive.

“I'm glad to be back. It's great to be back in the communication sector,” he said, before quickly mentioning the fact that when he left the sector to go into politics, Vodafone and Hutchison Telecom were merging to avoid the fate of becoming the almost-certainly-unprofitable fourth-ranked mobile carrier in the market.

Fast-forward a decade and the resulting combined VHA entity is trying to merge with TPG for the same reason, an observation that drew plenty of chuckles from the telco types in attendance.

So did his remark that “When I was last in the sector, there was an evil big telco monopoly everybody had to deal with if you wanted to sell fixed line broadband.”

He also observed that since selling Telstra, Australia’s government has come to miss close involvement in the comms sector, then joked that recent national security legislation giving government more power over the sector has restored that lost intimacy.

That led to a segue on relationships being complex and tough to maintain, and a suggestion that twice-not-acquired Vocus probably understands that complexity very well. He then soothed Vocus by saying it'll surely find someone special soon.

The minister didn’t spare himself, saying that his stock answer when asked about sales of his 2009 book Wired Brown Land is to say “it is one of the best-selling books ever written about Australian telecommunications sector.”

Winners of the 2019 ACOMMS were:

  • Fay Holthuyzen, who was named the Australian Communications Ambassador 2019 for her sustained and meritorious contribution to Australian telecommunications policy.
  • Telstra, which won the Innovation - Large Company category for the Track and Monitor solution.
  • Southern Phone Company, which won the Innovation- SME category for the Next Home Phone product that eliminates the stress, pressure and confusion experienced by senior Australians during the copper disconnection as part of the nbnTM rollout.
  • Speedcast, which won the vendor innovation category for its SIGMA Gateway.
  • King & Wood Mallesons took out the Services to Industry - Professional Services prize.
  • Aussie Broadband took out the Commitment to Customer Service winner prize for its “Making it easy" initiative.
  • Meshed was named best IoT startup.
  • Vodafone won best mobile solution for its endless data, no-lockin mobile handset plans.
  • NBN Co and the Telstra Foundation both won the community contribution prize, after judges couldn’t split the pair.
  • Cisco won best marketing initiative for its Cisco Live customer and partner conference.
  • Pivotel Satellite and Farmbot Australia took out the satellite provider of the year prize.
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