Telstra changes pace

Telstra changes pace

Summary: commentary It was hard to envy Telstra chief Sol Trujillo's position in the spotlight last Thursday. The executive faced a three-hour grilling at the hands of the nation's journalists and financial analysts after he released his company's half-yearly results at a Sydney press conference.

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commentary It was hard to envy Telstra chief Sol Trujillo's position in the spotlight last Thursday.

Renai LeMay, ZDNet Australia The executive faced a three-hour grilling at the hands of the nation's journalists and financial analysts after he released his company's half-yearly results at a Sydney press conference.

Despite Telstra's insistence the audience should restrict themselves to one question at a time, nobody was prepared to play by the rules.

"I've 'just' got three questions this morning," Christian Guerra informed Trujillo and his offsider Telstra financial chief John Stanhope.

The Goldman Sachs JB Were analyst's last name means "war" in Spanish so your writer wasn't surprised to hear him take Trujillo to task about Telstra's controversial December decision to put its Fibre to the Node network build plans on hold.

"I'd just like to understand how realistic that is as a strategy going forward," he said.

Another analyst was concerned Telstra's new retail broadband pricing strategy would land it in hot water with wholesale customers.

"Are you envisaging an onslaught of competition notices?" asked Citigroup's Tim Smeallie, referring to the competition regulator's power to inhibit anti-competitive behaviour.

Some questions were of a more mundane nature.

"If Telstra is concerned with rolling out high speed broadband, why is it that you cannot get an ADSL2 connection in Pitt Street in the heart of the Sydney CBD?" asked Samantha Brennan, an intern journalist with CNN.

"I don't know," replied a surprised Trujillo.

"It's 107 Pitt Street in Sydney," continued Brennan, as Trujillo pledged to follow up her request, a surprising offer given that Telstra doesn't currently sell ADSL2 services.

Ultimately analysts dubbed Telstra's financial results unsurprising, with most still primarily worried about the telco's fractious relationship with the government and the competition watchdog.

"The next year is shaping up as a high-risk game of chicken," Ovum analyst David Kennedy said in the wake of the results, referring to Telstra's stand-off with the government over competitors gaining access to its planned Fibre to the Node network.

However the real significance of Thursday's proceedings is that the settling-in period for Telstra's new management has ended.

Trujillo is clearly committed to his strategy of consolidating the carrier's network and support platforms and staff numbers.

That strategy was only announced in mid-November but last Thursday's briefing made clear its implementation has already started.

Now that silly season is over and Trujillo has had his feet on Australian soil for seven months, the telecommunications industry can expect Telstra's transformation to accelerate rapidly.

BigPond's move this week to double the speeds of its cable broadband service is just the first of many changes the market can expect to see.

Has Telstra's transformation started to gain pace or is the telco still mired in its own mud? Send your thoughts to renai.lemay@zdnet.com.au.

Topics: Telcos, Broadband, Telstra

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