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G9 pesters public for Telstra break-up

The G9 consortium has launched an online petition to compel the Federal government to include a structural separation component as part of the incumbent's contract — should it win the bid for the national broadband network.
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Written by Marcus Browne on

The G9 consortium has launched an online petition to compel the Federal government to include a structural separation component as part of the incumbent's contract — should it win the bid for the national broadband network.

Spearheaded by Optus, the Fair Go Broadband Web site went live yesterday in a busy 24 hours for the consortium, which appointed former Soul CEO, Michael Simmons as managing director of its bid for the national network.

Optus CEO Paul O'Sullivan

"I have been public in stating Optus's position in relation to the government's guidelines; that is, to provide consumer safeguards, a number of measures need to be incorporated into the tender process such as structural separation," said Optus CEO Paul O'Sullivan in an internal memo to staff ahead of yesterday's launch.

"This would ensure that the owner cannot discriminate in favour of its own retail division when it comes to pricing and service levels provided to other retail service providers," he said.

O'Sullivan went on to state a number of other measures — including wholesale access pricing and an extension on the tender submission process — deemed necessary by the G9 for a fair bidding process and competitive environment after the networks completion, should the bid be won by Telstra.

"Without these measures, we run the risk of a return to a monopoly market in the broadband industry, resulting in much higher broadband prices for all of us and the inability for Australia to unlock the true benefits of broadband," said the Optus CEO.

A G9 statement outlining its position on the Fair Go Broadband Web site claims "there is a clear and present danger that in its rush to roll out the national broadband network, the Government will give away critical competition and consumer safeguards".

The launch of the site coincided with Telstra's response to G9's Michael Simmons' remarks yesterday, when he described network details handed over by Telstra to competitors at the behest of the Federal government as "next to useless".

"How would they know?" a Telstra spokesperson told AAP.

"Only serious bidders can access the information and to our knowledge, they have not put AU$5 million on the table," the spokesperson said.

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