Telstra's whining never ends: Optus chief

Summary:The legislation governing Telstra's complete sale would do little to regulate the telco's future activities, Optus chief executive Paul O'Sullivan said.O'Sullivan lambasted the government's legislation, which is due to be approved by parliament today.

The legislation governing Telstra's complete sale would do little to regulate the telco's future activities, Optus chief executive Paul O'Sullivan said.

O'Sullivan lambasted the government's legislation, which is due to be approved by parliament today. "The legislation as drafted contains fine words, but will have very little practical effect," he said.

Speaking at a gathering of about 200 industry players and Optus wholesale customers in Sydney this morning, he also took a swipe at his counterpart at Telstra, Solomon Trujillo.

"How will you know when Sol and the three amigos' Learjet has arrived in Canberra?

"Because the whining doesn't stop when the engines do," O'Sullivan said, as the audience erupted in laughter.

On a more serious note, O'Sullivan warned his wholesale customers they would see "a tough and ruthless Telstra when it's privatised", adding the pending sale was "the biggest earthquake" in the history of the nation's telecommunications sector.

The comments echoed those of Democrats deputy leader Senator Andrew Bartlett, who overnight issued a statement claiming the legislation was "unleashing a giant horizontally and vertically with grossly inadequate protections" on the marketplace.

However, the government remained enthusiastic about the sale.

"Not only has the government achieved legislative authority to implement its long-standing and long-stymied commitment to fully privatise Telstra but we have secured more than AU$3 billion to ensure Australians have adequate telecommunications services both now and into the future," said Senator Helen Coonan, the minister responsible for communications policy, last night.

Telstra's enthusiasm for providing wholesale services also came under fire from O'Sullivan, with the chief executive giving voice to what he called 'rumours' that Telstra would withdraw some services.

Optus is Telstra's largest wholesale customer.

Also on O'Sullivan's list of complaints were facts revealed in a recently disclosed Telstra presentation to the government. The Australian Securities and Investment Commission last week forced the telco to release the document -- which O'Sullivan called "extraordinary" -- to the Australian Stock Exchange.

The Optus boss pointed out the document showed Telstra's profit margins on common products like line rental and long distance calls. The numbers, he claimed, didn't match previous complaints by Telstra to government regulators that it made a loss on basic access to telecommunications services.

Meanwhile, O'Sullivan provided an update on his company's plans to rollout ADSL infrastructure around the nation. The company was still focusing on the provision of business-grade services, he said, but was "carefully exploring opportunities for consumer DSL".

"We are incredibly active in that space," he said. Optus currently has business-class ADSL infrastructure in 162 telephone exchanges, he added, with that number due to increase to over 200 in the next few months.

Topics: Telcos, Broadband, Optus, Telstra

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