The nation's number two telco Optus today said it wanted to see the details of Telstra's $11 billion deal with the National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co), so it could ensure its customers would be treated no different by the fledgling fibre monopoly than those of Telstra.
(Lupe image by Alpha six, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Asked directly to comment on the news released by Telstra this morning that the company had reached an agreement on key commercial terms with NBN Co, Optus CEO Paul O'Sullivan told journalists in a briefing this afternoon that he would like to know the details of the agreement, noting transparency should be a key factor of the National Broadband Network (NBN) roll-out.
"We would like to see all the details of the contract between Telstra and the government," said O'Sullivan, adding there was a huge amount of money spent on the project and that everything should be done to preserve competition in the market, so that Optus customers would be treated the same as Telstra's.
Optus director of government and corporate affairs Maha Krishnapillai said Optus welcomed the news that Telstra had reached commercial terms with NBN Co, but would not comment until all aspects of the agreement were made clear. However, he maintained that transparency needed to be a key factor at this stage. "It is imperative that we have full transparency of the agreements to ensure that no compromises are made that will provide Telstra with an unfair market advantage," he said.
Moreover, Krishnapillai said the NBN Bills currently before parliament were a crucial piece of legislation, saying Optus had proposed some specific and targeted amendments to strengthen the legislation and to ensure greater transparency for a review of discounting provisions by the national competition regulator.
"That will provide the appropriate checks and balances and regulatory arrangements for the NBN as it rolls out," he said. "For example, it will guarantee the wholesale-only nature of the network and ensure that we avoid the sort of conflicts we have today, where the dominant wholesale provider is the leading retail provider."
Going back to the half-year financial results, O'Sullivan said Optus was experiencing a sustainable and profitable expansion, confirming ongoing growth for four years in a row. He said regardless of intense competition in the Australian mobile market, Optus added 150,000 new post-paid mobile customers in the last quarter.
The chief executive acknowledged that Optus took advantage of some of Vodafone's coverage issues, but maintained the company built on its organic growth. "We are focused on our own strategy; we are not about reacting to the behaviour of the competitor on a day-to-day basis, and today's results show that that focus and discipline around an ongoing strategy is paying off," he said.
In Australia, Optus' operational earnings grew 5 per cent year on year, while revenue grew to $2.38 billion, driven by incessant mobile growth and increasing profitability. In fact, the mobile business revenue increased by 7 per cent, to $1.56 billion, which is the same ratio at which the number of 3G subscribers grew, reaching 4.8 million. These figures include the acquisition of another 92,000 wireless broadband subscribers in the last quarter.
"This was achieved through differentiated mobile offerings, a continued focus on customer experience and enhanced network coverage which now reaches 97 per cent of the Australian population for both voice and data," O' Sullivan said.