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Telstra CEO fronts Canberra

Telstra's chief executive faced the music in Canberra today, debating his company's controversial network strategy with Liberal and National federal politicians. Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo The news comes after Trujillo declined to face federal Senate estimates committee hearings several weeks ago, sending Telstra secretary Douglas Gration in his place as he attended a third-generation mobile telephony conference in Barcelona, Spain.

Telstra's chief executive faced the music in Canberra today, debating his company's controversial network strategy with Liberal and National federal politicians.

      Sol Trujillo
Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo
The news comes after Trujillo declined to face federal Senate estimates committee hearings several weeks ago, sending Telstra secretary Douglas Gration in his place as he attended a third-generation mobile telephony conference in Barcelona, Spain.

Politicians are understood to be concerned about Telstra's decision to close its rural CDMA mobile phone network and its December announcement that it had placed plans to build a national optical fibre broadband network on hold. Telstra wants the federal government to ease some of the regulatory constraints the carrier argues prevent it from securing a reasonable return on the investment needed to build the network.

Telstra issued a statement today saying Trujillo had told politicians the carrier "was the only communications provider committed to providing all Australians with access to national high-speed wireless networks".

"Telstra is the only company with a demonstrated record of achievement in rural and regional Australia ... In addition to rolling out new technology, we will continue meeting Universal Service Obligation such as the regulated provision of public payphones, and we will meet or beat regulated service standards," Trujillo is said to have told the coalition partners.

Telstra also said Trujillo reiterated his message that "intense competition and declining revenue from traditional sources had compelled him to transform the company's performance".

Shadow Minister for Communications & Information Technology Senator Stephen Conroy said Trujillo should have attended the committee hearings.

"Sol should have taken his courage in his hands, and turned up and had a genuine discussion with the Australian parliament and the Australian people about what Telstra are actually planning," Conroy told ZDNet Australia.

"Gration's a very good lawyer, and he was very good at stonewalling on behalf of the company," he added.