NBN door remains open for Telstra

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NBN door remains open for Telstra

Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy has asked voters to trust that the government's 98 percent coverage promise for the NBN will be delivered, despite the fact it will consider Telstra's lesser 90 percent proposal.

The Minister was quizzed heavily by reporters in Canberra late yesterday on whether Telstra’s seemingly non-compliant ‘proposal’ would be accepted.

One of the major sticking points on paper appears to be that it promises only 90 percent coverage of the population – less than the 98 percent promised by Labor and written into the RFP document as one of 18 key objectives that prospective bidders must meet.

“Telstra’s proposal will be considered in exactly the same way as all of the other five proposals,” Conroy said.

That response appeared to raise more questions than answers.

“Telstra’s clearly non-compliant bid seeks to only cover 90 percent of the population, can’t it be ruled out now?,” one reporter said.

“Is the 98 percent coverage negotiable?” another asked.

Conroy deferred those questions and more to the expert panel tasked with reviewing the bids and entering discussions ‘with the proposers’ over the next couple of months.

“I can’t comment on the individual bids. That’s the role of the expert panel,” was Conroy’s consistent refrain.

“A whole range of claims and counter claims are going to be made about the contents of various proposals,” said Conroy.

“The expert panel’s job is to sift through that.”

The mysterious Acacia consortium appear to have won brownie points for guaranteeing the government a commercial return on its up to $4.7 billion investment in the project. Telstra has been less forthcoming when it comes to making such promises.

“We’ve always said that we’d be expecting a commercial return, there is no argument,” said Conroy.

“I don’t think anyone has questioned that at any stage.”
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