Ericsson downplays Telstra rural fibre talks

The tech supplier for a proposed AU$7.2 billion regional Australia fibre optic network appears to have thrown cold water on participation by Telstra amid reports the telecommunications carrier planned to meet the project's backers next month to discuss its involvement.

The tech supplier for a proposed AU$7.2 billion regional Australia fibre optic network appears to have thrown cold water on participation by Telstra amid reports the telecommunications carrier planned to meet the project's backers next month to discuss its involvement.

Ericsson has released a statement denying reports it was a member of the project consortium with construction company Baulderstone Hornibrook, saying it had been selected as the "technology supplier".

According to a report in a financial newspaper, Telstra would be offered a role as an equity partner or leaseholder of the proposed network, which would "future-proof" rural Australia.

The report said the network would encompass the entirety of the continent excluding Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra. The fibre component would be supplemented by satellite services for more remote areas.

However, Ericsson said, from its perspective, "it has no commitments from Telstra with respect to this initiative and no commitments will be sought".

The telecommunications equipment supplier added that while discussions of the concept -- dubbed "Homestead" -- had been held with Telstra while Ziggy Switkowski was at the helm, the management team headed by Sol Trujillo had described the project as a "dead issue" in light of new business priorities and strategies announced on 15 November last year.

Ericsson noted it presently had more than 1,400 engineers rolling out a 3G wireless network for Telstra designed to service both regional and metropolitan Australia.

However, the supplier's statement does not encompass whether Telstra's interest may be renewed following its decision late last year to shelve some of its fibre network proposals after failing to win regulatory and funding concessions from the federal government.

A spokesperson from Baulderstone Hornibrook was unavailable for comment.

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