Telstra tells FTTN rivals to 'put up or shut up'

A high level Telstra executive has labelled other potential bidders for the proposed FTTN network as "pretenders" after it was revealed the telco suggested to the government that it attach a multi-million dollar application fee and bond to all its network tender requests.

A high level Telstra executive has labelled other potential bidders for the proposed FTTN network as "pretenders" after it was revealed the telco suggested to the government that it attach a multi-million dollar application fee and bond to all its network tender requests.

The national carrier is campaigning to have a AU$100 million negotiation bond imposed upon all bidders for the national FTTN network, with its executive director of regulatory affairs, Dr Tony Warren telling competitors to "put their money where their mouth is".

Warren said the government should not only require a substantial surety from bidders but set out high-end benchmark criteria to identify only the most serious competitors for the project.

"We don't want any G9 pretenders stringing out the process, or half-baked proponents like OPEL slipping through with flimsy plans and meaningless 'in-kind' contributions," he said.

"It is unusual for a government to make such a large financial commitment to an FTTN project, and we don't think it should be treated by speculative bidders as a 100 percent mortgage," Warren said.

The Telstra executive proposed that the government only consider tenderers that have constructed and operated a broadband network in Australia or overseas with capital expenditure of more than AU$3 billion in the past five years, and currently manage a network with more than 500,000 customers.

Telecomms analyst Paul Budde believes the move is a "pointless distraction".

"If this is the level of debate we get when we're talking about one of the most important pieces of national infrastructure to be completed within our lifetimes then I find it appalling.

"This is just another pointless distraction that Telstra is trying to throw in the way to maintain its monopoly rather than encouraging productive debate about the potential uses for the network in e-health and education," said Budde.

Telstra's Warren said the bond is necessary because the project is "unusual" in terms of its scale: "Our suggestions are for an efficient, objective, competitive RFP process which will fulfil the Government's goal of commencing the National Broadband network build before the end of the year," he said.

However, analyst Budde remained unimpressed: "If that's honestly the only thing they can come up with then I feel very sorry for the company".

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