The hangover

The hangover

Summary: The creme de la creme of the Australian telecommunications industry is incredibly hung-over today in the wake of last night's annual Service Providers Association (SPAN) dinner in downtown Sydney. Bravely facing the waves and waves of drinks that just keep coming like an onslaught from the hands of smiling, yet deadly waiters, the nation's top telco execs braved the night and staggered home in the early hours of the morning.

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TOPICS: Government AU
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The creme de la creme of the Australian telecommunications industry is incredibly hung-over today in the wake of last night's annual Service Providers Association (SPAN) dinner in downtown Sydney.

Bravely facing the waves and waves of drinks that just keep coming like an onslaught from the hands of smiling, yet deadly waiters, the nation's top telco execs braved the night and staggered home in the early hours of the morning.

It's safe to say there were a few sick days called in today. And not all brain cells made it out of the Four Seasons hotel alive.

Your intrepid reporter sacrificed his personal time and credibility to go deep undercover and cover the event, Hunter S. Thompson style.

MC and comedian Peter Berner wasted no time in getting stuck into the issues of the day.

"I'd like to start off with a little joke," said Berner, clearly relishing the opportunity to take hold of the microphone. "T3."

To thunderous applause Berner went on to lampoon the mobile phone habits of celebrated spin doctor Shane Warne, video telephony, and even Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan.

"The most important tool for the survival of new technology on mobile phones in this country is Shane Warne," said Berner in a reference to the spin bowler's alleged pornographic text messaging habits.

"There is your principle profit centre right there. There is one table here with a service provider dedicated to nothing else but Shane Warne," Berner continued.

On video telephony, he said: "Pretty much we're moving towards removing ugly people from the loop altogether. This is where Telstra don't need to worry -- as long as there are ugly people there will be a need for landlines."

But an attempted joke from the comedian about Coonan's physical appearance (your writer didn't quite catch his words) didn't go down so well.

The managing director of Open Networks, Derek Campbell, later in the night leapt to the senator's defence as he took the microphone for an award acceptance speech.

"You're looking absolutely stunning tonight," Campbell told Coonan, noting his company was currently putting together an application for government funding.

Coonan herself took Berner's teasing in good humour when she took the microphone for the keynote speech.

"I'd like to thank Peter for making that kind comment," she said.

"I've decided that it's going to be a ministerial determination that there will forever be a [broadband] black spot over his home. Never to be fixed."

"Of course, the government is continuing to rollout affordable broadband and mobile phone services -- except around Peter's house."

Coonan then addressed the issue of the at times frosty relationship between her government and Telstra. "I have been chatting to Dr Phil, and that's been very good, and he's offered to introduce me, which was kind of him, except I knew I'd have to remove that gag." she said in a reference to Telstra's group managing director, Public Policy & Communications, Phil Burgess, who was sitting on her table.

"So much for frigid relations," added Coonan, apparently in a mood to let her hair down. "You're a great bunch so I'll let you get back to your partying soon."

Not all of the jokes told last night were as worthy of laughter as Berner's early rib-ticklers.

"I know the program advised that Telecom NZ CFO Marko Bogoievski would be here, but unfortunately he's had some dental issues that meant that he had to get back to New Zealand quickly," said AAPT executive David Watson.

"I hear Marko has been chewing on a fair few issues lately."

Were you at the SPAN dinner last night? Post your experiences below or drop me a line directly at renai.lemay@zdnet.com.au.

Topic: Government AU

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