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Telstra-NBN deal ramifications unclear: ISPs

Internet service providers iiNet and Internode have said that there isn't enough information for them to be able to comment on the final deal announced between Telstra, the National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) and the government yesterday.

Internet service providers iiNet and Internode have said that there isn't enough information for them to be able to comment on the final deal announced between Telstra, the National Broadband Network Company (NBN Co) and the government yesterday.

Telstra said yesterday that definitive agreements for the deal had been completed, which will see it lease its pits and ducts to NBN Co, decommission its copper network and move its customers onto the NBN.

It's an important step, but only a 33-page summary of the deal has been made available to the media for scrutiny.

According to Internode founder Simon Hackett, that isn't enough.

"This is an obviously complex deal which cannot be adequately evaluated by reading the edited highlights in a press release," he said.

"I call upon NBN Co and the government to release the entire document to the public now that it has been signed. This is the only fair and reasonable way for both the public, who are funding this agreement, and Telstra shareholders, who are to benefit from it, to understand what we have all been committed to today, for the next 35 years, by our elected government."

iiNet chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby said that iiNet wanted to see the final ministerial instruments for the separation of Telstra, which have just been released, and Telstra's structural separation undertaking before any comment could be made.

He said that the draft separation instruments had left iiNet underwhelmed — a view that it shared with Optus. In a submission, iiNet said that the instruments failed to impose sufficient and meaningful levels of transparency on Telstra before and during the migration to the NBN, giving Telstra "such broad exceptions that it will remain a dominant vertically and horizontally integrated service provider such that the viability of NBN Co is seriously questionable".

Exetel head John Linton said that points of the Telstra agreement showed that Telstra held all of the cards in the negotiation.

The wireless clause, which says that Telstra can't promote wireless products as an alternative to fixed-line for 20 years, was an amazing concession on the surface, according to Linton.

"As 'NBN2' keep saying wireless technology is absolutely no threat to fibre — what are they really thinking? It doesn't matter to Telstra, as they will dominate the 'NBN2' and it releases them from financial obligations to upgrade their mobile network — should they wish to do that."

He also said that the point stopping Telstra from building optical fibre infrastructure, except in interim circumstances, would give Telstra an excuse not to enhance its network, while looking to compensation for delays in the NBN construction.

Andrew Sims, general manager for marketing and products at Primus, asked that no one forget what the nation was really after. "In all the excitement, we just need to ensure we don't lose sight of the end goal being better accessibility, competition and a level playing field in the Australian broadband market," he said in a statement.

The Communications Alliance welcomed the agreements, with CEO John Stanton saying that they were a "fillip to the very broad industry efforts to make the NBN the success that Australians deserve". He said that the agreements brought ubiquitous broadband a step closer.