NBN — tackling the questions

NBN — tackling the questions

Summary: Hot on the heals of the release of a new Communications Alliance discussion paper, Phil Dobbie spoke to four industry players to tackle some of the fundamental questions that the industry, and hopefully the government, are asking.

TOPICS: NBN, Broadband, Telcos, Optus

This week the Communications Alliance released its second industry discussion paper on the National Broadband Network. It follows two industry forums held in Sydney and Melbourne on the 19th and 20th of May. The discussion paper identifies the work areas that the industry needs to flesh out over the next six to nine months as the government undertakes its own Implementation Study.

There are a multitude of questions that need to be answered, from what is built, how it is managed, and the roles of players in the industry and how it is regulated.

Hot on the heels of the release of the new paper Phil Dobbie spoke to four industry players to tackle some of the fundamental questions that the industry, and hopefully the government, are asking.

On the call are:

  • Gary McLaren from McLaren Williams, author of the Communications Alliance discussion paper.
  • Paul Fletcher, previously advisor to Senator Alston and former head of Regulatory Affairs for Optus.
  • Ravi Bhatia, the CEO of Primus Telecom.
  • Steve Dalby, the chief regulatory officer at iiNet.

Let us know what you think of the process and whether you enjoy this panel discussion format.

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Telcos, Optus


Phil Dobbie has a wealth of radio and business experience. He started his career in commercial radio in the UK and, since coming to Australia in 1991, has held senior marketing and management roles with Telstra, OzEmail, the British Tourist Authority and other telecommunications, media, travel and advertising businesses.

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  • What I really mean is "As long as Telstra is killed I will benefit"

    If these guys have so little an idea of what the NBNco should offer and how it should it operate. How does anyone expect any company to join it!

    Let alone Telstra who its clear will have to be more than just coerced into joining.

    What is beyond doubt however is the NBNco charter will not be commercially orientated one. If it makes money it will be incidental! A very minor amount and only after a very long time.

    And then the govt will try to sell it to the public!

    Counting on the people to have forgoten how they were defrauded with the last Telco they bought from the Govt.
  • Agree

    It is very pleasing to read that the Telstra executive team, engaged to explore the feasibility of participating in the Federal Government's $43 billion National Broadband Network, start with a blank sheet of paper with nothing off the table.

    Clearly, the select team will face a catch 22 situation when endeavoring to do the right thing by everyone. Damned if the do and damned if they do not, but they are, sufficently proficient to do the overall right thing.

    A point of some concern, is the speculation regarding the possibility of Telstra taking up to 49 per cent of the NBN company and divests its wholesale division.

    Such a move would require the utmost consideration by Telstra shareholders. Those of us who participated in the earlier ownership of Telstra are well aware of the dangers and the subsequent substantial loss of shareholders funds when the company was engaged in a venture in Hong Kong in which they did not have control of their destiny. Two per cent makes a huge difference when things begin to go wrong.

    In the current scenario, divesting the wholesale division will entail a disruption of the workforce with some members facing temporary unemployment and/or becoming public servants!

    Of further concern, is the Federal Government's modus operandi for the project. Whereby, a no man land would ensue: 8 months of feasibility study, followed by 6 years of construction before practical completion is reached and full cash flow, it is hoped, will resume.

    The uncertainty since December 2008 has played havoc with Telstra's capitalisation, its Highs and Lows are appended below. The prospects of the continuation of such a negative trend will cause hardship in the retirement nest egg plans of millions of Australians.

    10/12/08 $53.256 billion

    16/12/08 $41.808 billion

    02/01/09 $47.905 billion

    20/01/09 $43.177 billion

    03/02/09 $47.158 billion

    19/03/09 $36.458 billion

    07/04/09 $42.306 billion

    05/05/09 $39.817 billion

    29/05/09 $38.697 billion

  • Addendum

    It's now reported that Conroy wants Telstra's stake in the NBNCo be limited to somewhere between 15 to 20 per cent, not 49 per cent as suggested in recent media reports.

    Even 49 per cent would not cover the high risk factor of getting tangled in this web.

    This link will gives us some idea of what Telstra is up against, and by the looks of things, NBN may turn out to be our great wall of China!
  • We are not worthy

    Wonder of wonders.

    The undisputed star of NWAT has actually ventured out from the absolute safety of the most ridiculously biased site on earth, into the real world.

    The uncertainty came about because Telstra via Trujillo and McGauchie, decided to play stupid games and lost. The proof being, where are they now?

    Get ready for a taste of further reality, before you head on home with tail betwixt legs, Vasso. Because people here are concerned about Australia and Telecommunications, not Telstra's share price.
  • Time will tell

    Simon, my concern is primarily Australia's national interest.

    Bankrupting the century old telecommunication icon, that served us well and hopes to continue doing so, with not help the people concerned about Australia and Telecommunications.

    Once bitten twice shy,.... Courtesy: Anonymous, above:

    "Counting on the people to have forgotten how they were defrauded with the last Telco they bought from the Govt."
  • @Time will tell.

    Vasso, I see your approach here is much more conciliatrory and less aggressive than normally associated with you, from the consummate safety of NWAT. Much like the new Telstra CEO, it must be contagious.

    Bought from the *previous* government, one of a different political persuasion, you mean?
  • @ Time will tell

    Anonymous, yes indeed - bought, lot stock and barrel, from the Howard government who missed a great opportunity to broadband Australia which we could be enjoying NOW.

    Nothing aggressive about my modus operandi, it's always factual but detractors never respond in kind but seem to enjoy ridiculing.

    For your benefit, I reiterate:

    ---- -----, we all enjoy a laugh and some humour but when our telecommunication infrastructure and our national interest are at stake, it's no longer a laughing matter.

    I fully support broadbanding Australia with a cable network which we can be proud of and not necessarily built by Telstra. Sadly, however the NBN proposal suggested by the Rudd Government, in the current economic climate, is a recipe for a monumental national disaster. I put forward my view for all Forumites to consider and comment as they deem appropriate.

    The maximum cost for the proposed FTTH network is reported to be $43 billion. The Government provided a sum of $4.7 billion in its $22 billion infrastructure fund and proposes to raise the remainder, $38.7 billion, through Government NBN infrastructure bonds.

    Per its modus operandi, the Government is coercing Telstra to vend its existing network to the Ruddnet company for equity. The Telstra network is conservatively valued @ 35 billion, therefore should the Telstra board go along with the venture, the equity capital would be $39.7 billion with a cash flow of $4.7 billion.

    The FTTN project was estimated to cost $15 billion but the elaborate FTTH project could cost $30 billion? meaning that the Government will still have to raise an additional $25.3 billion which will increase the equity capital to $65 billion in real terms. Not $43 as originally suggested.

    Bearing in mind that other projects in the $22 billion infrastructure fund will be looking to raise private equity, this will put pressure on the ability for Government to raise the $25.3 billion needed for the FTTN project. Moreover, Government bonds are hard to flog in the current economic climate, see ...... "Investors also sold Australian Government bonds, mirroring a sharp sell-off in US Treasury bonds amid fears the US could lose its AAA rating. Any such cut would test the appetite for the massive public borrowing task facing the US Government, economists say." extract, Courtesy:


    Personally, I wouldn't touch Government bonds at current interest rates simply because when interest rates go up, and they will in time. Bonds loose value.

    Grim times ahead. Fools rush in.
  • Understand their motive.

    How refreshing to read the unchallengeable logic of Vasso Massonic concerning the proposed NBN.

    Let all understand that those who call for the restriction of Telstra do so for their own advancement and financial benefit.

    I am sure that every Company in Australia would like an opportunity to call for regulation to restrict opponents.

    While it will probably be challenged, Vasso and myself project our thoughts in the interest of the Australian taxpayer.
  • Unchallengable shareholder rhetoric aint logic

    How monotonous to hear the *challenged logic* of Sydney Lawrence

    I suppose you and Vasso aren't big time Telstra shareholders who comment daily on nwat, *for your own advancement and financial benefit*?

    I'm sure every company in Australia would clearly understand the rules by which their businesses are governed and just get on with business. Not keep whinging about these rules like Telstra and their simpleton shareholders do.

    No challenge required it is all bs.
  • @Unchallengable shareholder rhetoric aint logic

    Disclosure: Apart from Managed Funds and Allocated Pensions, who naturally hold billions of Telstra shares, my direct holding in T1 T2 & T3 is only 18,000 shares but my main concern is Australia's national interest.

    Peruse the bargain of the century. Parent withdraws from OZ, invest in Asia instead. Its spoilt brat flogs its dormant HFC network to the NBN, re lists on the Australian stock exchange, piggy back's 25 per cent of Australian homes to Telstra's network for the next six years at ACCC's bargain basement access rates and Bob's your uncle. My fairytale?... not at all, read about it....

  • yes, we understand your motive

    @"those who call for the restriction of Telstra do so for their own advancement and financial benefit."

    "Vasso and myself project our thoughts in the interest of the Australian taxpayer."

    No, and no. Most of us are just fed up with being screwed by a monopolistic corporation and having to listen to its attendant stooges.
  • Life was not meant to be easy, mate

    We get screwed any way VIZ:

    "SingTel subsidiary Optus has first mover advantage in trying to sell its $1.5 billion HFC cable to the NBN for equity in the NBN Company. But Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy and his team of telco specialists should be wary of Singaporeans bearing gifts."

    Extract, Courtesy:

  • Optus HFC

    That's great news about the HFC, f unny that Optus appears to be a much more agile player than Telstra. I know that most of the middle management are interchangeable depending upon the whims of organisational change (some people are on their third rotation). What I don't undretsand is why Telstra so often gets it wrong?

    You don't hear the venom from ex-Optus customers that you do from ex-Telstra customers. Why do you think that is? No doubt it's a terrible Singapore conspiracy to access our government secrets! Maybe Telstra should just concentrate on delivering what they sell to customers.
  • Optus HFC

    Beats me as well, perhaps it's our tall poppy syndrome. First the Fourth Estate clamouring about the Yanks. They went, now for the home grown.
  • @Life wasn't meant to be easy

    No it wasn't meant to be easy Vasso. You have learned this the hard way via Telstra shares.

    You have 18000 shares bought through T1, 2 & 3 you say. Obviously I don't know the split. That being if you bought 10000 then 5000 then 3000 or 6000 x 3 or whatever? But averaged out each share is worth a smidge under $4.77 and trading now at $3.37.

    Averaged, you are currently sitting on a loss of around $25000.00!!!!

    But I'm sure this is of no consequence to a patriotic, nice man like you, who is only commenting on behalf of 'all of our well being', not that lost $25K.

    Just imagine your mate Sydney though, who bought most of his at $7.40! No wonder he is even more 'patriotic and thinking of us all, even more than you'.
  • Poppy

    The only poppy syndrome here is poppy-cock from Telstra! Either that or they are on the poppy juice!

    Telstra are disliked because they screwed their customers, broke promises, bullied everyone and stuffed the billing. Quite simple, not tall poppy syndrome or anything devious, just angry customers!

    Telstra should consult Optus or Internode on customer service.
  • Oh what a tangled web we weave.

    Really you Anti Telstra Circus clowns are hilarious, and pathetic.

    Your devious scheme to demonise Telstra via your continous (and boring) claims that Telstra have no happy customers is childish rubbish.

    The fact that Telstra dominates the market brings the lie to your arguement. If Telstra is so universally despised it should be easy for opponents to triumph.

    The facts are that Telstra opponents, by deception, plan to promote their cause with lies. Problem is the Australian public is awake to your tricks, and continue to support Telstra.
  • @Oh what a tangled web we weave.

    Syd, the cure for ignoramus is IGNORE.

    God help us if they were in charge with anything.

    Still, one has to share our continent with all sorts, fortunately there are other avenue for the intelligentsia.
  • You're not at NWAT now, idiot shareholder

    Vasso I may well be an ignoramus, but I'm not a complete ***king moron, minus $25k, like some.
  • Freedom of choice. Aussies demand it.

    Vasso, we Aussies are a strange and unique lot.

    While we attack the tall poppy (Telstra) on occasion, when push comes to shove Aussies will always back their own.

    True competition dictates who will survive and Telstra competes successfully as the figures show. Australians have and will continue to embrace Telstra.

    Telstra opponents have created a devious plan to advance themselves by claiming Telstra is a monopoly who must be destroyed by misguided regulation.

    Competition is created by businesses investing and competing for the consumer dollar and the Australian consumer will decide not false regulation.