Special edition Telstra break-up podcast

Special edition Telstra break-up podcast

Summary: In a massive "special edition" of our telco podcast Twisted Wire, we talk to virtually everyone in the telecommunications industry about the break-up of Telstra, including man of the moment, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.


The man of the moment, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, is one of many guests on this week's Twisted Wire.

Make sure you've got the best part of an hour to spare before you sit down to listen. We've reached out to our industry contacts far and wide to get a diverse range of views on this week's announcement on telecommunications reform.

Assuming the government is able to pass its legislation Telstra will be faced with two choices — voluntarily structurally separate or face functional separation under a revision of the Telecommunications Act. This functionally separated Telstra would be prevented from acquiring 4G spectrum and would have to divest itself of its interest in Foxtel.

It's a move that has excited some in the industry and shocked many outsiders. We hear a mix of views on this week's "special edition" of Twisted Wire. There's no doubt that this is good news for the industry, but bad news for Telstra shareholders. A number of questions remain. Is it appropriate or is it too heavy handed? Can Telstra claw back value for its shareholders? Then there's the question of why the Future Fund got rid of so many Telstra shares just before this announcement.

This week:

  • Paul Budde says hanging onto the past doesn't make sense any more;

  • Stuart Wilson, CEO of the Australian Shareholders Association, describes the move as vindictive;

  • Stephen Bartholomeusz from Business Spectator says it goes close to the boundary of what's acceptable for government behaviour;

  • Senator Stephen Conroy says he is correcting 20 years of policy failure;

  • David Kennedy, an analyst at Ovum, considers it's the government's way of getting Telstra to provide its last mile infrastructure to the NBN;

  • Ravi Bhatia, CEO of Primus, says it brings the telco landscape to where it was intended to be 12 years ago;

  • Andrew Sheridan, GM for Regulatory Affairs at Optus, says he hopes Telstra will see that the writing is on the wall and respond to these changes; and

  • Rosemary Howard, former head of Telstra Wholesale, says the big T was going down this road before Sol Trujillo came along.

It's a balanced and comprehensive analysis of the proposed reforms. We report, you decide. Hasn't that been used somewhere before?

Topics: Telcos, Government AU, Optus, Telstra


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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  • Telstra Break -UP

    I am glad to see that the current minster unlike his predecessors has the COJONES to do what he did.
  • its not about cojones, its about spite.

    While I know the spanish word for Balls, I wouldnt infer that Conroy actually has them, but rather that his whole policy and direction so far has been one great big hairy set of cojones.

    There isnt any reasonable rationalle behind this. Its as bereft of thought as his "filter" concept.

    Please, for the love of god, can someone competant in IT and Telco's actually try to get this position for once?

    Helen Coonan made my brain melt by trying to say that wireless can substitute for ADSL, and she didnt even understand the concept of "shared" bandwidth.

    Conroy has a team of people who provide him with buzz words, and then he uses them whilst really just trying to further either his right wing opus dei objectives, or trying to score points by bashing Telstra.

    Thats not what he's there for.
  • About time to switch cojones

    Telstra's had (& taken full advantage of) it's stranglehold on ours all along. Nice to hear Conroy is making a grab at theirs :)
  • Thanks

    Thanks, enjoyed the podcast.

    Kudos to Conroy. It's just so rare in politics that you actually see the 'correct' decision being made rather than a mediocre compromise. I'm in complete awe of Conroy's advisers - they've been several steps ahead of Telstra for a while now, and the process has been squeaky clean.

    It's Machiavellian: "What's that you say Telstra? You're voluntarily choosing to structurally separate? My, what a good idea...".
  • Never trust a poor speller ...

    ... or someone who can't be bothered spelling correctly.
  • Telstra break-up - Resolving the debacle can't happen soon enough!

    Nothing in Australian Telecommunications could be more desirable and necessary than the break-up of Telstra. The separation of the distribution network from this ugly behemoth will finally start truly effective competition in Australian telecommunications.

    Telstra's behaviour is akin to Microsoft--arrogant, greedy, and couldn't care less about the customer: essentially it's an almost absolute monopoly with only bit players for competition. Telstra exercises by far the greatest control over Australia's telecommunications distribution network for which other Telcos have had to come a begging for access.

    For Internet readers outside Australia who don't know of Telstra or who have never experienced this ugly unpleasant corporation first hand, it's very difficult to explain in just a few words how much trouble a customer can experience with this Telco and still sound rational and coherent: stating the facts will sound like exaggeration, and describing one's feelings at being shafted but being unable to do anything effective about it will sound unbelievable (it'll seem so far from normal business practice as to be unreal).

    Just last week, Telstra emptied the full amount of that top-up credit that I'd put into my prepaid mobile cell phone only a month earlier without me even making one phone call (I'd not made a call during that time). A month previously it did exactly the same thing except then the remaining credit was three times as much--about $60.

    Several months ago I tried to rectify problems with my phone service by contacting Telstra Customer Service however I was completely unsuccessful. The first was trying to resolve account issues and the second was why my cell phone had been disconnected from the network whilst my account was well in credit. For my efforts I got absolutely nowhere except to be transferred over 17 times--eventually I lost count--mostly to Indian call centres. After several hours of arguing and getting nowhere I demanded to talk to a higher decision-making authority within Australia and I was eventually transferred to a 'dead' line to get rid of me--it just rang out unanswered.

    [After a few hours of getting absolutely nowhere with Telstra's Customer Lack-O-Service, I began to sound like the recording of that British guy which is doing the email rounds--whose unrelenting tirade against a British Telecom telemarketer will go down in history as a classic. I'm beginning to think we should blitz Telstra customer Service with this audio whenever we get the royal run-around.]

    Anyway, this was not the first time either that Telstra had cut off my service whilst my account was in credit, the same thing happened several months earlier when its accounts registration server previously spat the dummy. Of course, there was no apology--no extra credits for the service being down--or for the 'non-functioning' and essentially useless customer service. Absolutely nothing. Customer Service even refused to send me an itemised account through the mail--they said it was impossible.

    Moreover, that was just the demise of my most recent of Telstra mobile services. For similar reasons, two other Telstra mobile accounts have bitten the dust in the last couple of years through Telstra's inability to provide me with even a modicum of customer service. And I can't even begin to tell you of the problems I've had with my fixed line services over the past 20 years or so except to say that I've been charged thousands for services which were not delivered--problems which have never been resolved--the whole saga just beggars belief.

    Through delays, multiple phone transfers from one operator to another, having to deal with incompetent customer service staff or those who simply **DO NOT** have the authority to act to solve the problem, Telstra wears its customers into the ground to the point where they simply give up. The stamina and effort needed to keep complaining has to be of Herculean proportions. Presumably, there's a

    FIRST. To readers of ZDNet Australia:

    1. The US version of ZDNet DOES NOT truncate a post half way through as it did here (I've used it often)

    2. To make matters worse, the preview of the post worked AOK and showed my full post. It only truncated on 'submit'

    3. The US ZDNet site lets you edit the post after it has been submitted/committed, this Australian site does not. Why on earth not?

    3.1 As there seems to be no way around the truncation I would have removed the post after it was posted if I could have--better my comment not be posted at all rather than only half of it displayed. It makes no sense w/o the latter half.

    4. I tried to use the 'Report offensive content' and provide an explanation why. BUT THERE IS NO WAY OF EXPLAINING WHY ONE FINDS A POST OFFENSIVE. Obviously, I don't find my own post offensive--but I do when my post is broken in half.

    SECOND: To ZDNet Australia Editors.

    1. Please remove what remains of my post along with this comment before your site looks even more ridiculous.

    2. Please do me the courtesy of emailing me when you have removed them.

    Thank you.

  • LoL

    Nothing in what you said is good enough reason to allow Labor a ham-fisted licence to butcher the structure of a company.

    It is my belief that even as evil twins, Telstra will continue to find ways to rort us.

    Yes the post truncation is annoying, especially since the 'front end' of this website doesn't manage it however do you have to be such a child about it? It is easy enough to press the 'back' button, then cut and paste what is in the form after the last word displayed in the first post and simply post the rest in a second post. Other users here have done it with no problems.
  • Don't you hate that.

    I always make a point (on any site) of Ctrl-C copying to the clipboard before submitting. You never know what any given site will do to your post.
  • truncation

    Hi, with what did get posted I understood clearly what you are saying as it is a well structured dialogue. I wouldn't have beleived these things could happen, after reading your post I am without a doubt of how bad Telstra is.
  • not the point

    irrespective of how shit the big T may have been to this point on occasion, its still not conroys place to do that.
  • your an idiot if you think Telstra is alone in poor customer service.

    Mate, fucking up T isnt going to help customer service around the place.

    banning outsourcing will help that.

    having worked at several major players I can tell you that they all work exactly the same way.

    "Money for the Shareholders"

    my friend needed to port away from three. It took three weeks.

    Optus stuffed up their accounts so much that they had a policy of crediting back the first two customer complaints on any issue.

    And trujilio fired most of the knoledgeable staff from telstra, and thats their current problem.
  • budde

    Lol, I can't believe you'd include anything from budde. For one he's about as independant as David Thodey.

    For two, he doesnt make any valid points at all?

    "its like a kid in a candy shop who says I want everything"

    Actually its not you ridiculous tool, a child in a candy shop is getting things purchased for them by their parent.

    This kid in a candy shop already owns the shop and all the lollies..


    And "Correcting a policy mistake" by conroy, the ultimate bullshit artist.

    What? correcting usually equals fixing your own mistakes, not hacking down anyone who benefited from your cock up.
  • Remove post

    hi Graham,

    are you sure you want us to remove your post? I thought it was very good!

    Let me know if so. I apologise for the limitations of our forum.

    Kind regards,

    Renai LeMay
    News Editor
  • That's the deal !

    "Just last week, Telstra emptied the full amount of that top-up credit that I'd put into my prepaid mobile cell phone only a month earlier without me even making one phone call (I'd not made a call during that time)."

    Well guess what, I had the same thing happen to me with Optus. But that's the deal, so I have to cop it sweet.
  • How i win bak my lover.

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