Telstra says a proposal floated today by its
major competitors to upgrade the nation's broadband
infrastructure is designed to rip off taxpayers and Telstra's
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.
The group sees a similar plan put forward by
Telstra in November and currently being discussed between the
heavyweight and the nation's competition regulator as a threat to competition in the Australian telecommunications market.
Although the rival group said Telstra would be invited to
participate in this morning's proposal, a spokesperson for
the heavyweight described it as "a pick-pocket plan to rip-off Telstra
shareholders and taxpayers."
"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," the spokesperson told ZDNet
Australia via e-mail.
They added the group of telcos wanted others to carry
investment risks while they skimmed profits off the top.
"Their plan is like pitching a tent on top of a skyscraper,
then demanding rent from all the tenants," they said.
Making reference to a previous proposal from SingTel
subsidiary Optus under which Optus and Telstra would have jointly
built a network, the Telstra spokesperson Optus was like a broken
"It's Groundhog Day again for Singtel Optus -- its at least
the third time Singtel Optus has suggested this, but now they
want to cut their proposed minor investment in Australian
telecommuncations seven ways," the Telstra spokesperson said.
Optus chief executive Paul O'Sullivan told journalists in a
media briefing this morning that the proposal would help Telstra
as well as its competitors.
"We believe what we're proposing will actually be better for
Australia, and indeed for Telstra in terms of getting certainty
around the process [of upgrading the nation's broadband
infrastructure]," he said.