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Telstra pays $5m FTTN bond, network details included

Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo announced this morning that the company has lodged its AU$5 million tender bond for the national fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) network.
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Written by Marcus Browne on

Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo announced this morning that the company has lodged its AU$5 million tender bond for the national fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) network.

Speaking at the Macquarie Australian Equities conference in Melbourne this morning, the telco chief told attendants that an AU$5 million bank guarantee, along with much anticipated documentation detailing Australia's network infrastructure, had been handed over to the Federal government in Canberra this morning, after Communications Minister Stephen Conroy wrote to Telstra and other carriers in February, insisting that they provide details on their network infrastructure.

The information was handed over to the government by senior Telstra executives today on the condition that it only be passed on to third parties after the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) agrees to the carrier's confidentiality agreement, or when DBCDE's own confidentiality agreement is provided and agreed to by Telstra.

According to Telstra, the company sees "no reason why this cannot happen immediately".

Along with details of its physical network infrastructure, Telstra also included a mathematical costs estimation model — or TEA model &mdash for the government to issue to other tenderers.

"With the combination of the network information and the TEA model, Telstra's competitors will have access to data that is reasonably required to put together their bids," said wholesale group managing director, Kate McKenzie.

"Anyone who now spends time complaining, rather than getting on with the job, cannot be taken seriously," she said.

Telstra boss Trujillo claimed that construction of the FTTN network could end up costing as much as AU$10 billion, and said that "over time it is bigger than fixing the nation's water problem".

"Telstra's bid team is now fine-tuning the company's plans, and we look forward to the government making decisions in time to allow construction to begin by the end of the year as the Minister has stated," said Telstra's McKenzie, in a statement.

"Today's actions ... put us a step closer to starting work, and put the onus on others to quit complaining and put up their money," she said.

Today's announcement follows Optus CEO Paul O'Sullivan's claim on Monday that it would withdraw from the bid race if the official deadline for tender proposals was not extended past its 25 July cut-off, after Communications Minister Stephen Conroy declared that the government would not provide an extension for prospective bidders.

Conroy's refusal, coupled with Optus's threat to step out of the race, prompted Opposition communications spokesperson Bruce Billson, to urge the Commonwealth Auditor General to launch an investigation into the tender process for the network.

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