Trujillo welcomes gov't end to fibre jam

Telstra head Sol Trujillo has told staff he welcomes the government's decision to appoint a panel charged with breaking the fibre-to-the-node deadlock -- but it has no plans to negotiate over a rollout.In a letter to Telstra workers, Trujillo said: "On balance, I think this is a good sign because the government apparently sees the need to break a regulatory logjam that is now stopping the deployment of fibre-to-the-node (FTTN).

Telstra head Sol Trujillo has told staff he welcomes the government's decision to appoint a panel charged with breaking the fibre-to-the-node deadlock -- but it has no plans to negotiate over a rollout.

In a letter to Telstra workers, Trujillo said: "On balance, I think this is a good sign because the government apparently sees the need to break a regulatory logjam that is now stopping the deployment of fibre-to-the-node (FTTN).

"The solution to breaking the logjam is simple: backward-looking regulations need to be changed if we are to enjoy continued progress in telecommunications."

It's expected the panel in charge of regulating fibre deployments will be appointed by the government this week. Telstra has criticised plans for a fibre network deployment by the rival Optus-led G9 consortium as a "non-starter" and a "press release" with little credibility.

Trujillo also used the letter to question who will be chosen to sit on the panel, requesting that the government choose those who have yet to pick a side on the controversial issue.

"The composition of the 'expert panel' is the business of the government. It is not our business. Though we assume they will include people with experience and competence, people who are fair and balanced in their approach -- and exclude people who have already embraced one approach or another in the ongoing broadband debate."

Trujillo also stated he believes such issues should be dealt with by the government and not regulators. The telco has been involved in an ongoing spat with the communications watchdog, the ACCC, which yesterday highlighted how the question of Australia's fibre future could affect the overall telecoms market, saying in a report issued this week competitors could be "exposed to significant risks" from any Telstra FTTN deployment.

Telstra and the ACCC were previously involved in discussions over how competitors would be allowed access to the network but talks broke down last year.

Trujillo, meanwhile, reiterated Telstra's intention to stick to its guns over fibre-to-the-node, telling staff: "When this process comes about, we will be engaged with our plan for FTTN -- not a proposal or a concept. We have already completed a management plan, financial operating plan, engineering plan, deployment plan, and a technology evolution plan ... I should add, that we are not engaging in this process to 'develop' or 'refine' or 'negotiate' a plan."

The telco is, however, involved in negotiations over planned redundancies. Telstra is currently talking with the government on how to minimise the effects of the closure of 13 call centres, which will result in the loss of 500 jobs.

Tasmania's Coalition members and senators, including the federal member for Bass, Michael Ferguson, also met with Telstra yesterday and hope to convince the company to retain its call centre at Launceston, which employs 250 workers.

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