The federal government today said it was
important that discussions between Telstra and the competition
regulator continue, despite criticism of the telecommunications regulatory regime by the telco's
Telstra has been in talks with the Australian Competition and
Consumer Commission (ACCC) regarding the terms under which the telco would build its national fibre broadband network, as well as the price under which rivals gain direct access to its existing national copper network.
"As I under stand it, Telstra and the ACCC are currently
engaged in some discussion so I think it is important that those
discussions continue and there is no indication that they won't,"
said Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan, speaking at a business lunch in Sydney today.
Chief executive Sol Trujillo today again accused the telecommunications regulatory regime of
stifling the company's business and said the regime for the telecommunications market was "past its use-by date".
He said that Telstra wanted to operate on a level regulatory
playing field, that "rules must be fair for everybody" and that
Telstra could not be the sole risk taker in the market.
Telstra wants to protect its AU$3 billion fibre investment from being
exploited by its rivals.
Coonan said if Telstra ruled out building the network
the government would find other ways to expand broadband services
"My understanding is that he hasn't yet rejected the
possibility of [fibre to the node] and is continuing discussion with the ACCC on
that particular proposal," she said.
"Clearly, if those talks don't come to fruition, obviously the
government welcomes different approaches, different investments
by different players and of course Telstra's plans are always of
Coonan also said that clarity of regulatory issue
would be important ahead of any sale of the government's
remaining 51.8 per cent interest in Telstra.
"The government doesn't regard regulation as connected to the
sale but clearly there are some matters to do with regulation and
clarity around some of those issues that are important for
Telstra and important for a prospectus," she said.
Asked if the government would meet its July deadline to decide
on whether to go ahead with the sale, she said: "Several matters
need to be taken into account in the government deciding whether
and how it would proceed with the Telstra sale.
"The government hasn't yet made that decision. Obviously in
the fairly near future we will have to consider all of these
issues and then come to a firm view."
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