Unsuccessful National Broadband Network (NBN) bidder TransACT today said it felt the government had unfairly put it and other bidders out of pocket for a solution TransACT did not believe was any better than the one it had put forward.
"We're not a large company, but we've spent a lot of money," TransACT CEO Ivan Slavich said. "It'd be nice of them to give us some of the money we spent on this process." He said the telco had spent around $1 million on the proces.
There wasn't a legal aspect to the telco's claim, but Slavich believed the government had an ethical imperative to hand back some of the cash.
He would have understood if one of the bidders had won, he said, since that was how the game worked. However, having the government whip the prize out from under the bidders' noses smarted, he said, especially since he didn't think the government's proposal was any better than what his company had been offering.
"In our opinion, ours would have been lower cost, same speeds and less time," Slavich said.
TransACT had been offering fibre to the kerb with category five cable going to the home, Slavich said. TransACT was also already rolling out fibre-to-the-home in some premises in the ACT. "The request for proposals didn't want fibre-to-the-home. If it did, that's what we would have put forward," he said.
The price users would face also troubled him. "$43 billion to roll out this network is a lot of money. I just wonder what the access price would be." He believed that it would be much higher than bidders had been proposing in their plans, unless the government subsidised it.
Despite his disappointment at the government choosing none of the bidders, TransACT would look to be a part of the new process. The government has released a discussion paper on regulatory issues for the future. "We'll certainly respond to the draft discussion paper," Slavich said. It was also possible that the company would look to be part of the government's consortium, he said.
He said the government's decision would certainly affect the way that TransACT rolled out its infrastructure over the next while. "We don't want to build infrastructure and find it's obsolete," he said. Over the next seven to nine months as the government sets up the consortium, TransACT would keep an eye on it to see how the roll-out would affect TransACT's assets.