Telstra cans Terria debate

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Telstra cans Terria debate

Telstra is at the centre of a new storm amid allegations that it pulled out of tomorrow’s NBN debate after a failed last-minute attempt to oust the Competitive Carriers Coalition (CCC) and Paul Budde from the Broadband World conference program.

The allegations were made in a statement issued by the CCC, which blasted Telstra as ‘a bully’ and ‘gutless’ over the way it has handled the withdrawal.

CCC executive director David Forman suggested to iTnews that Telstra’s tactics have cast a black shadow over all future industry debates involving the carrier.

“Everyone will look at every conference in which Telstra participates in the future and ask who got blackballed because Telstra wanted them out,” said Foreman.

“This will impact all future debates in the industry because people know what Telstra will try on.”

iTnews understands both Foreman and telco analyst Paul Budde were independently contacted by conference organisers, Terrapinn, following Telstra’s last-minute demands.

Foreman said he would have withdrawn from the structural separation panel session if he had been asked by Terrapinn; however, it is understood the conference organisers did not make such a request.

The CCC claimed Budde, however, had agreed to stand aside ‘to be replaced by a Telstra nominee’.

“The conference organisers tried to find a way to accommodate Telstra’s demands, and the CCC applauds Terrapinn for taking the position that it would be ethically wrong to force the CCC to step aside, even if it is commercially difficult to say no to an organisation with Telstra’s financial muscle,” said Foreman.

Terrapinn this morning confirmed to iTnews that Telstra has officially pulled out of the event.

Telstra’s place in the NBN debate and panel discussion on structural separation will now be taken by David Havyatt, who will appear as an ‘independent consultant’ that will be ‘presenting Telstra’s side of the story’, Terrapinn said.

iTnews will still cover the debate and panel discussion live as previously announced. The CCC has confirmed it will still participate, and iTnews has contacted the other parties to reconfirm their attendance.

Foreman summed up the situation: “Who knows what they’d [Telstra] have said even if they’d turned up. Who cares to be honest.”

A Telstra spokesperson responded late this afternoon, saying: "It was originally envisaged that this Conference would occur after the lodgement of proposals under the National Broadband Network RFP.

"With the later lodgement date, this is no longer the case.

"The combination of the need to maintain confidentiality under the National Broadband Network RFP and the inability to reach agreement on a fair and balanced panel meant that regrettably Telstra was no longer in a position to participate," the spokesperson said.
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