Bank helps out G9 fibre proposal

Telstra's major rivals have moved a step closer to bringing their rival fibre broadband plan to fruition, enlisting the help of an international banking group to help with the process. The group of telcos known as the G9 -- Optus, Telecom NZ (AAPT/PowerTel), iiNet, Macquarie Telecom, Internode, Primus, Soul and TransACT -- are currently putting together a proposal to build a national fibre to the node (FTTN) broadband network.

Telstra's major rivals have moved a step closer to bringing their rival fibre broadband plan to fruition, enlisting the help of an international banking group to help with the process.

The group of telcos known as the G9 -- Optus, Telecom NZ (AAPT/PowerTel), iiNet, Macquarie Telecom, Internode, Primus, Soul and TransACT -- are currently putting together a proposal to build a national fibre to the node (FTTN) broadband network.

This morning Macquarie's national executive for Regulatory and Government, Matt Healy, told ZDNet Australia the group had appointed South African specialist bank Investec to aid in detailing the financial aspects of the proposal. Healy said before the G9 could take its proposal to the markets to seek investment, it needed to examine the technical, legal and financial aspects of a joint FTTN build-out.

"So to assist with those activities, especially the finance side, we've got Investec," he said. The issue of how the G9's network construction would be funded has been seen as key to the idea's success.

Healy said since the G9 proposal was initially detailed 10 months ago, the idea had moved from a high-level design to a much more detailed vision. The G9 was now continually updating both the ACCC and the federal government as to its progress, he said.

The G9 needs to work with the ACCC on an arrangement dubbed a "special access undertaking, under which telcos can gain access to the proposed network.

Healy agreed that progress on the G9's proposal had been "evolutionary". "I think evolutionary is sort of the right term. I mean that's not to say that this has been plodding along -- a fair deal of resources have been put to it," he said.

"You can see that you don't get the assistance and support of a bank like Investec without having something that's do-able."

Telstra abandoned its own proposed FTTN network last year, after talks with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on the terms under which rivals would gain access to the network broke down.

Healy said that "unlike Telstra", the G9 would make announcements on its proposal when "real progress" had been made. "So as we hit our key milestones, we'll have further announcements," he said.

An Optus spokesperson had not responded to a request for comment by press time.

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