Sutherland Shire Council is locked in a stalemate with Optus over the $110,000 cost of a cable replacement in the shire's local shopping centre, with the council seeking legal advice after a verbal agreement went south.
The dispute comes down to the cost of replacing Optus cables around the Gymea shopping centre currently under redevelopment, first reported by The Leader.
The council told ZDNet Australia in a statement that unnamed council staff had held discussions with the nation's number two telco about the costs involved in moving the cables from Ausgrid-owned power poles to an underground location. The two parties allegedly came to a verbal understanding.
"The understanding was council would bear the cost of installing the underground conduits and that Optus would fund the relocation of its aerial cables to the underground conduits provided," the council said, adding that it has since paid for the conduit installation and is now awaiting the Optus cables.
The verbal agreement later fell through, as Optus provided the council with a $110,000 bill for the work involved moving the cables underground. The quote is excluding GST.
According to council minutes, Sutherland Shire is currently seeking legal advice in an attempt to charge Optus rent for the conduit in the same way the telco was paying Ausgrid for renting its power poles. The council plans to:
- Investigate the experience of other councils with undergrounding Optus cables
- Investigate what Optus pays Ausgrid for rent of power poles
- Seek external legal advice on these matters and whether council can charge Optus rent if Ausgrid is able to
- Renegotiate with Optus depending on results of these enquiries.
Optus said in a statement, however, that it consistently told the council that it had no interest in paying for the cable relocation.
"Optus has met with the Sutherland Shire Council on several occasions and it has been clearly communicated that all associated costs of the relocation will be the responsibility of the council," the telco said.
The dispute was ongoing at the time of publication.