The nation's largest telcos, Telstra and Optus, have
welcomed the Australian Labor Party's election promise to
facilitate a new national fibre broadband network with up to
AU$4.7 billion in funding, and key telecommunications reforms.
Last year, Telstra shelved plans to build such a network after failing to come to an agreement with the Australian
Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) about the terms under which
rivals would gain access to the proposed "fibre to the node"
But today the ALP pledged AU$4.7 billion and regulatory changes to pave the way for a partnership with the private sector
on a FTTN network.
"Telstra welcomes the ALP's announcement today that a [Kevin]
Rudd government would take broadband policy leadership away from
the unelected regulator and return it to the elected
representatives, where it belongs," Phil Burgess, Telstra group managing
director of Public Policy and Communication, said in a
"Today, Senator Conroy made clear that the ALP is prepared to
do what is necessary to ensure Australia has a globally
competitive broadband infrastructure, including removing the
regulatory roadblocks to investment in a national FTTN network,"
Burgess added. "Telstra supports this important national
Burgess said Telstra stood ready to invest in a world-class
FTTN network if government regulations provided certainty and
enabled the telco to achieve a competitive return on capital
Telstra's closest rival Optus said Labor's strategy took a page from its game plan.
"Australia needs a high bandwidth network -- and strong
competition in broadband services," said Optus director Corporate
and Regulatory Affairs, Paul Fletcher, in an e-mailed statement.
"These two objectives were at the core of the plan announced by
Optus and the G9 last year for a new high bandwidth network for
"It is pleasing to see these objectives affirmed in the
broadband policy released by Labor today. Labor has adopted key
elements of the G9's plan to give Australia a world-class
broadband network while protecting and stimulating competition," Fletcher said.
G9 comprises a group of telcos -- Optus, Telecom New Zealand (AAPT/PowerTel), iiNet, Macquarie Telecom, Internode, Primus, Soul and TransACT -- that plan to build a national fibre broadband network.
Fletcher said the G9 will lodge a special access undertaking
with the ACCC by May with respect to its own fibre
Meanwhile, both Optus and Telstra could not resist taking
potshots at each other.
"In Telstra's view, the G9's proposal is fatally compromised
on legal, technical and policy grounds," said Telstra's Burgess. "It
involves confiscation of Telstra's network assets, which have
been bought and paid for by 1.6 million mum and dad
Optus' Fletcher said: "The incumbent telco's plan for
broadband, by contrast, is to do nothing unless it gets a cosy
deal to protect its lush monopoly profits."