Facing the microphone

Facing the microphone

Summary: It can't be easy being a Telstra spokesperson presenting to a conference composed of rival telcos, regulators and government officials -- not to mention disgruntled customers. Especially if you're speaking before lunch.

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TOPICS: Government AU
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It can't be easy being a Telstra spokesperson presenting to a conference composed of rival telcos, regulators and government officials -- not to mention disgruntled customers.

Especially if you're speaking before lunch.

This was the position Telstra comms and public policy chief Phil Burgess found himself in on day one of CommsDay's annual summit on Tuesday.

Somewhat ironically, some would say, given Telstra's current combative attitude with almost all other elements of its industry, Burgess gave a speech entitled "On removing your head from the sand".

A reading of the transcript of the speech reveals Burgess basically reiterated Telstra's oft-stated view it was actually the government that had its head stuck up its proverbial behind when it came to regulation of the telecomms sector.

In any case, although at the time I was at home with my own head buried deep in my Nintendo and my lungs heavily dosed with cough syrup, I am assured that Burgess acquitted himself admirably.

"He didn't disappoint, it was a very impassioned speech, I can tell you," one member of the audience told me today.

However the attendee's impromptu review revealed the Telstra executive's oration didn't strike home on all points.

"One thing that Phil Burgess didn't provide was any great deal of data or anything about Telstra's methodologies," they said.

"For example he talked about things like being forced to offer infrastructure below cost and so on, but he didn't actually provide any new data."

"There was nothing to substantiate those claims beyond what was already in the public domain."

The transcript, in turn, reveals gems like "Telstra's standard offer of 256Kbps pales in comparison to baseline broadband access speeds elsewhere".

Yes, Phil. We know.

As someone whose job requires me to frequently listen to speeches by telco executives, I can assure you, gentle reader, that Burgess' lack of new material to contribute to the regulatory debate is hardly a quality unique to this case.

Shadow communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy fell victim to this same problem at another telecomms conference several weeks ago.

But at the conference this week, alleged factional heavyweight Conroy rose above recent bad form and used his own slot to flay the government's recently announced telecomms and media policies.

One can only hope Burgess' own subject matter will have developed next time he faces the microphone.

My new Technorati Profile, by the way -- apparently this needs to be there to claim my blog.

Topic: Government AU

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