AAPT has not yet had any discussions with the Federal Government about a possible role in the $43 billion National Broadband Network, its CEO Paul Broad said this week.
Paul Broad (Credit: AAPT)
"We haven't had discussions with them yet," Broad told ZDNet.com.au, "we're hoping to have discussions with them soon."
AAPT is Australia's third largest carrier and owns a substantial amount of fibre around the nation. The number one and two carriers, Telstra and Optus, have already been talking to the government about their involvement.
Telstra was given a second lease of life with the broadband announcement as the government expressly said that it was allowed to become involved in the project. It acted quickly, with chairman Donald McGauchie and CFO John Stanhope flying to Canberra to meet with the government.
The telco has created a special committee including the pair to negotiate with the Federal Government. The group hasn't included outgoing Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo, on the grounds that negotiations would likely continue after he has gone.
Optus was lavish in its praise of the government's plan when it was announced.
AAPT, on the other hand didn't have only positive things to say about the new idea. Paul Broad said on Lateline Business that he didn't believe the network could make a return by offering prices similar to those currently available. He believed prices would need to be around $200 a month for end users. He called for the government not to duplicate existing infrastructure in metro areas, instead focusing on the regional blackspots.
AAPT wouldn't want a stake, he said, although it would happily participate and also put customers on it. "I would say that we wouldn't be investing any more dollars in it just as we withdrew from the NBN proposal in the first place," he said.
According to Broad, the plan leaned on the side of extravagance. "I'm in the view that I've never found the economics to work to fibre-to-the-home. Just the economics never stack up. And I spent too much of my life trying to get governments to stop making irrational decisions about taxpayers' money," he told Lateline Business.
Telstra would not comment on what its discussions with the government had entailed. Optus' Krishnapillai said that the government had spoken to the carrier on the NBN as well as other issues. He said the company was working out its next steps and that some idea of how to proceed could be hammered out in the next few weeks.