This afternoon's announcement of an $11 billion deal between Telstra and National Broadband Company (NBN Co) may help to rectify the government's mistake in privatising Australia's telecommunications monopoly infrastructure, the Australian Greens said today.
This afternoon Telstra revealed it had signed a preliminary $11 billion deal with NBN Co that would see the telco migrate its telephone and broadband customers onto the fibre National Broadband Network, with its copper network to be shut down and no more broadband services to be provided over its hybrid-fibre coaxial cable network.
In a statement issued this afternoon, Greens communications spokesperson Scott Ludlam noted what he said was the irony of Australian taxpayers spending billions of dollars to buy back "a network that should never have been privatised".
"It may be that this is a significant step along the way to undoing some of the damage that was done when we privatised the national telecommunications carrier," he said.
In general, Ludlam said his party was encouraged by the announcement as a lack of an agreement between Telstra and NBN Co would have led to "an expensive and protracted conflict" which would, in turn, have led to wasteful duplication of resources.
"We won't now have two wholesale networks competing in a space which most people recognise is a natural monopoly," he said.
The nation's number two telco Optus has "cautiously" welcomed the deal but called for further regulatory reform, while the Opposition slammed NBN Co's $11 billion deal with Telstra, describing it as Labor's "desperate" attempt to progress its National Broadband Network policy "by throwing billions of dollars of taxpayers' cash at it". The Opposition said that it would cancel the deal if elected.
Like Optus, Ludlam encouraged the government to bring its telecommunications sector reform legislation back to Federal Parliament so it could be debated. He added that the Greens would also carefully scrutinise the final details of the Telstra deal — which still has to meet the approval of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Telstra's shareholders and the government.