Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Australia - Telstra

Telstra looking for a quickie deal over broadband

TELSTRA has issued a brash challenge to the new Rudd Government, claiming it could start building a $4.7 super fast national broadband network within days.

The call came despite Telstra having no guarantees it would be even considered a front-runner to win the lucrative contract.

Telstra's regulatory affairs chief Dr Phil Burgess claimed yesterday the telco could start digging construction holes within 48 hours, if given the green light.

Analysts labelled the call as arrogant and presumptuous and a sign Telstra's relationship with the Rudd Government would be even more heated than with the former Howard Government.

Using broadband as a key election platform, Kevin Rudd has promised to spend almost $5 billion to build an open-access national high-speed broadband fibre network.

Despite Telstra's enthusiasm, it's unlikely any fibre rollout will start before late next year. But that did not prevent Dr Burgess from laying an early claim to the project.

"We're prepared with a plan, with the money and the talent and technology to get the job done," he said.

"Within 48 hours we can start digging holes."

An Optus-led group of telcos, known as the G9, also said it was keen to build the network on Labor's terms. "Optus and the G9 look forward to the commencement of a competitive selection process for the right to build a national broadband network, and we intend to participate vigorously in the process," said an Optus spokeswoman.

Telco analyst Paul Budde said the only way Telstra would be given a green light to start construction would be if it accepted that rivals would have open access to the infrastructure.

However he doubted that Telstra would be party to such a plan, as Labor appears determined to prevent further monopolisation of the industry.

"This is a continuation of their bad behaviour they have shown in the past," he said.

It is believed a tender process will be issued for the construction of the broadband network, with international parties invited to apply.

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