Optus, Telstra discovery could cost $37m

Summary:If Optus seeks to access over 1.3 million documents to support its compensation claim stemming from Telstra's misuse of its confidential customer information, it could cost upwards of $37 million and take an additional three years, Telstra claimed in the Federal Court today.

If Optus seeks to access over 1.3 million documents to support its compensation claim stemming from Telstra's misuse of its confidential customer information, it could cost upwards of $37 million and take an additional three years, Telstra claimed in the Federal Court today.

Between 1993 and 2000, Telstra had created market share reports using Optus' confidential long-distance customer information passed on from Telstra's wholesale division to its retail division.

The traffic information included the number of calls made, source of the call, destination, duration, time, kind of call and value, which was used by Telstra to launch marketing and sales attacks on the long distance call market.

Optus received access to those reports as part of a court case in May 2009, which ruled that Telstra had misused the information.

Optus is now seeking to discover whether Telstra continued making these reports between November 2000 and 2003. Telstra stated that the system which had been used to create these reports was decommissioned after 2000; however, Optus counsel Christian Dimitriadis said that fact wasn't proof the telco had stopped producing the reports.

Telstra counsel David Healey outlined which documents and personnel to whom Telstra considered Optus would require access in order to value the compensation, and has provided the names of 20 employees who were responsible for the market share reports. Dimitriadis identified an additional 13 senior managers who were left off the list, which Optus alleges may have knowledge of how the reports were used in Telstra's marketing and sales.

From the original affidavits put forward in the case, Dimitriadis identified 35 boxes of hard copy documents; 56 floppy discs, CDs and zip drives; and a number of external hard drives containing information the company wishes to access in determining what profits Telstra made from using the market share reports.

Healey said that there were over 1.3 million documents contained in those records, which would take three years and cost upwards of $37 million to go through. He said Optus would "not be satisfied" with what it discovered in the documents.

However, Optus disputed how much the discovery would cost, pricing it at around $2 million for a 30-week duration. Telstra proposed a discovery process it believed would cost around that figure and take as long, but be less comprehensive.

Healey today called for a motion requiring Optus to begin on the discovery process, stating that the case, now over 13 years old, had gone on long enough. Dimitriades stated that discovery was not necessary at this point in time of the case.

Justice Richard Edmonds said that the case between the telcos reminded him of "two large ladies fighting each other with handbags" and that for the potential cost of determining damages, both parties had "a lot of money in their handbags".

Justice Edmonds has reserved judgement on the matter until both parties have submitted written statements regarding today's motions.

Topics: Telcos, Optus, Telstra

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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