Conroy resorts to law to get Telstra's information

Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy will be introducing legislation in Parliament today to ensure that Australia's big telecommunications players hand over information about their infrastructure to the Labor government ahead of its planned national FTTN rollout.

Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has introduced legislation in Parliament today to make sure that Australia's major telcos hand over information about their infrastructure to the Labor government ahead of its planned national fibre to the node (FTTN) rollout.

A spokesperson for the Minister confirmed today that Conroy had sent a letter to Australia's telcos to advise them that he was to introduce new legislation requiring them to disclose the details of their physical network infrastructure.

The Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (National Broadband Network Bill) 2008 would enable the government to force the telcos to provide all necessary information on their infrastructure to possible bidders for the fibre-to-the-node network, despite Telstra's reservations that the information in question could compromise national security.

"It's basically a piece of enabling legislation," said the Ministerial spokesperson. "It provides a framework for the way all of this network infrastructure information could be dealt with, it will also address some the concerns surrounding national security."

"We're very pleased the majority of telcos have outlined their intentions to provide the information voluntarily, Telstra has also been very positive, and have given strong indications they'll release the necessary information," said the spokesperson.

"It is essential that parties interested in rolling out the national broadband network are not prevented from participating in the selection process by a lack of information about existing network infrastructure," said Senator Conroy in a statement.

A Telstra spokesperson told that it intended to hand over documents detailing its network infrastructure, but only when its concerns had been allayed.

"We believe that confidentiality and security protections should be put in place right away, not left to be decided later," said the Telstra spokesperson.

"Telstra is starting to worry about the additional steps being added to the process, because they mean consumers will be waiting longer and longer for FTTN."

Conroy's spokesperson declined to say which of the carriers had not responded, or what information the Minister's office was yet to acquire, while the Minister himself said today that he remains confident that negotiations will result in the voluntary provision of information.