Optus: from duopoly to open slather

Optus: from duopoly to open slather

Summary: In part two of the Optus story, Twisted Wire tracks the telco's history through the years of intensified competition, and asks, will it last another 20 years?

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In part two of the Optus story, Twisted Wire tracks the telco's history through the years of intensified competition, and asks, will it last another 20 years?

Last week we heard how the company came close to liquidation because of the ill-fated decision to roll out a hybrid-fibre coaxial network. This week we hear how that experience signalled to the regulator that Australia cannot support two fixed-line access networks. It almost certainly contributed to the decision to open access to Telstra's copper network, with the wholesaling of unconditioned local loop from 1999. Thank you, Alan Fels.

But that means Optus now faces many new competitors. That's not a problem, according to Andrew Sheridan, Optus general manager of interconnect and economic regulation: "competition is in our DNA," he says.

Yet iiNet is now proudly promoting that when it comes to DSL connections, it is second only to Telstra. So this week, whilst we trace the second part of Optus' history, we ask "is there enough that's different about the company for it to hold its place as Australia's number two telco?"

As well as Sheridan you'll hear from Optus CEO Paul O'Sullivan, together with former Optus execs John Filmer and Chris Hancock (now CEO of AARNet). Ovum telco analyst David Kennedy helps us to piece together the history. You can read more in his report, commissioned by Optus, "Unfinished Business" — 20 years of competition in Australia's telecommunications sector.

Any memories you wish to share? Call the Twisted Wire feedback line on (02) 9304 5198.

Running time: 33 minutes, 08 seconds

Topics: Broadband, Telcos, Optus, Telstra, NBN

About

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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