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Telstra, Hutch fight over shared network

Hutchison's 3 and Telstra have faced off in the Supreme Court this week to argue over their shared mobile network.
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor on

Hutchison's 3 and Telstra have faced off in the Supreme Court this week to argue over their shared mobile network.

"An issue has arisen between [Hutchison] and Telstra regarding our shared network," a 3 spokesperson said. The issue was a difference in opinion over certain terms and conditions of their shared network agreement, the spokesperson said, which had led to the companies seeking clarification in the court.

Telstra and 3 signed an agreement in 2004 to share a 2100MHz metropolitan network. Telstra paid Hutchison $450 million so that the carrier's network could become a core asset of the joint venture. The sharing agreement was supposed to run until the spectrum licences expired in 2017 or later. However, the recent decision to merge the Australian operations of Vodafone and Hutchison has made the situation more complicated.

3 CEO Nigel Dews, who is set to head up the merged entity, has said on more than one occasion that its sharing agreement with Telstra would continue, as would Vodafone's agreement with Optus.

The 3 spokesperson said that the action did not mean the agreement with Telstra was coming to an end and that it would also have no impact on the completion of the merger with Vodafone.

"The matter is currently before the courts and it is not appropriate for us to comment further pending its resolution," the spokesperson said.

The merger may face some opposition from another quarter after the ACCC issued a statement outlining its concerns with the merger, which included worries that the level of competition would fall.

Telstra was unable to comment in time for this article.

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