A proposal floated today by Telstra's major
competitors to upgrade the nation's broadband infrastructure
comes in four distinct models, all of which see the heavyweight
playing a key role.
Telcos Optus, Macquarie Telecom, PowerTel, Primus, Internode,
Soul and TransACT this morning outlined a proposal where they and
potentially others would collectively fund the building of a new
national high-speed fibre-optic telecommunications network that
all telcos could access and use to sell broadband services.
But while the proposal comes in opposition to a similar plan
put forward by Telstra in November, all four models the rival
group is proposing require heavy cooperation from the nation's
former monopoly carrier.
"At this stage we've identified four potential approaches that
could be applied," Optus chief executive Paul O'Sullivan told
journalists in a media briefing this morning.
"The first one we have is a model where Australia would be
divided into geographic areas, with Telstra responsible for
upgrading some of these areas and other telcos involved in the
consortium working either individually or jointly in other
O'Sullivan said the model would see the network being built to
common standards and guaranteed interconnection between areas
"The second model ... would be where Telstra cooperates with
all the carriers on designing the network, and on the capex
[capital expenditure], which we would all contribute to," he
"The substantive work on the network across Australia might be
done by Telstra, as the core operator."
O'Sullivan said under the third model the nation's existing
copper network would be sold to a joint venture company, "which
all the various shareholders, including Telstra and the other
telcos can participate in, and work with to design, finance and
built a new network".
The Optus boss said this third model was being used in Canada
and the United States.
"And the fourth model we've developed is one which you would
work to incorporate several of the existing networks which
already meet the speed requirements," said O'Sullivan.
Examples include Telstra and Optus' existing HFC cable
networks, or infrastructure owned by TransACT, Soul or Macquarie
"We would use that as the basis for interacting or integrating
all the networks, and then creating a joint operation moving
forward," O'Sullivan said.
The CEO added variations of the four models naturally
"But we think those four models provide the best pillars or
bases for discussion," he said.
"It's on those foundations that we now intend to begin
consultation with the Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission, with government, and of course we'll inviting Telstra
to participate in that as well."
However Telstra has already indicated its hostility to its
rivals' plan, which the telco described this morning as "a
pick-pocket plan to rip-off Telstra shareholders and
Soul chief executive Michael Simmons said in this morning's
media briefing Telstra's rivals would force it into line.
"It would be our hope that the ACCC would intervene to
encourage Telstra to consider a cooperative approach to rolling
out a fibre to the node network," he said.
In response to a question on what action would be taken if
Telstra resisted such pressure, Simmons said the rival coalition
would seek "legislative support".
The coalition would "consider various options to petition
government to force Telstra to cooperate," he said.