A proposal floated today by Telstra's major
competitors to upgrade the nation's broadband infrastructure
would see up to six million addresses wired for ADSL2+ broadband
-- two million more than Telstra's own plan.
Telcos Optus, Macquarie Telecom, PowerTel, Primus, Internode,
Soul and TransACT this morning
outlined a proposal where they and potentially others would
collectively fund the construction of a new national high-speed
fibre-optic telecommunications network that all telcos could
access and use to sell broadband services.
Optus chief executive Paul O'Sullivan told journalists at a
media briefing this morning the new network would "roughly
speaking" have a reach 30 to 50 percent greater than Telstra's
proposal, which Telstra has said would reach around four million
"There's about seven and a half million homes in Australia,"
Telstra was "talking about four million homes, was my
understanding," the Optus boss continued. "We're talking about a
number somewhere up to maybe six [million]."
"It's not about just the cities, it's about regional areas and
the areas around those centres," added Macquarie Telecom chief
executive David Tudehope, who was also at the briefing.
O'Sullivan said there was "a challenge, economically" in
extending the network to those last one and a half million
"These numbers are still relatively imprecise, but there has
been a lot of government funding put aside, almost a billion
dollars, with a view to tackling that area," he said, referring
to the federal government's AU$878 million Broadband
O'Sullivan also confirmed the new network -- built on the same
"Fibre to the Node" technology as Telstra's proposal -- would
deliver speeds of 12Mbps or greater.
Despite its increased reach the Optus supremo agreed with his
counterpart at Macquarie Telecom that the network wouldn't cost
any more to build than Telstra's plan, which the heavyweight has
said has a price tag of around AU$3 billion.
"The investment would be no greater than if Telstra were to do
it themselves," said Tudehope.
"Obviously it's somewhere in the region of three billion to
three billion plus that I think are the numbers we heard, and
certainly I think we're all comfortable and aware of those
numbers," agreed O'Sullivan, speaking for the consortium of seven
Both executives claimed network design efficiencies would keep
"A lot of us have existing infrastructure and so Telstra's
pricing was based on them assuming they would have to invest all
on their own, and maybe with some government funding," said
"If you include the existing infrastructure that we have in
our HFC [cable network], that people like TransACT have and that
others have, you actually may find that you get a much more
efficient build, and there is potential that you could do it for
O'Sullivan said aggregating customer demand and traffic from
many different telcos onto one network would also deliver
"I think one of the beauties of this approach is that it's
more affordable, because you can aggregate demand, to rollout the
network to more homes than you would under Telstra's proposal,"
O'Sullivan said the new proposal would take less time than
Telstra's to deliver services to the market.
"The process we're outlining here would offer a faster rollout
for Australia, we believe, because it would provide greater
certainty arrived at at a commercial basis between the parties,"
he said, "rather than going through the lengthy process of taking
undertakings and appeals."
However the rollout would still take several years.
"Any Fibre to the Node network is going to take a number of
years to build out," O'Sullivan said.
"It's not a network that we're going to build in a six month
or a 12 month period," Soul chief executive Michael Simmons
added. Simmons also fielded questions at the briefing.
"Geographically the expansion of it will occur over time as
well," Simmons said.
comes in four distinct models, all of which see Telstra
playing a key role. But
the heavyweight's reaction demonstrated it was not keen to be
"Together these companies are bigger than Telstra, yet they
want to risk our shareholders' savings, not their own capital, to
build their own fibre network," a Telstra spokesperson told
ZDNet Australia via e-mail this morning.