Telstra CEO David Thodey has indicated that the company's copper would be able to deliver 25 megabits per second (Mbps) in a fibre-to-the-node network.
The Coalition's fibre-to-the-node National Broadband Network (NBN) policy released last week will require the use of Telstra's existing copper line from the node to each premises. Since the policy announcement, questions have been raised over Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull's promise that by 2016, everyone in Australia will be able to get access to at least 25Mbps download speeds on the network, given the quality of the copper network.
Speaking at the launch of Telstra's new office in Singapore, Thodey said that high speeds are achievable over Telstra's copper.
"Yes, you can," he said. "Look at what's happening in the labs and other countries in the world; you can run pretty quickly on copper, it always depends on the distance from the node, and you know the issue is as you get further away from that node, the performance degrades, but we've seen in the labs that are actually working for many European countries speeds of 60[Mbps] down to 25[Mbps].
"So it's just purely physics, nothing else about that. The big breakthrough in recent years is around noise suppression of copper."
Turnbull has said that he expects Telstra to quickly renegotiate its AU$11 billion agreement to get access to that copper, should the Coalition win the election. Thodey indicated that a quick renegotiation may be possible.
"There's elections to be had, but should there be change of government, we look forward to working with the government of the day, we're focused with working with NBN Co, but should there be a change, we'll engage and get on quickly with the job," he said.
Thodey would not confirm whether Telstra would seek more money for access to the copper.
"Until we know all the details, it's hard to comment," he said. "One thing I can say is I made a commitment to shareholders to say we will do everything we can to preserve the value of the deal."
NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley said today that his company would have difficulty pricing a fibre-to-the-node network alternative to the current NBN policy, because the cost of accessing and remediating the copper is not known.