Report pushes for NBN to be utilities-based

Telstra rejects claims it is not acting in the nation's interests

Telstra rejects claims that it isn't acting in the nation's interests, stating that it's investment in the Next-G network is evidence of its commitment to bringing Australia into the future.

"We have delivered to Australia the world's fastest and largest mobile wireless broadband network with Next-G, it's the envy of the world. We want to do the same in the fixed line area, but because of regulations and uncertainty over the last three years we've been unable to do that," Mitchell said.

Senator Conroy has stated that regulatory changes are required and that an open access network is the path Australia's telecommunications industry must take for a national broadband network. But Budde is cautiously optimistic that the request for proposal has not made it clear exactly how that will be regulated.

"It will be a very risky process because Telstra has indicated they are not happy with that and have threatened the mother of all legal battles if the government wants to do something like that. But I also believe the government is adamant to get it right this time," he said.

Without any structural changes proposed under the RFP, BuddeComm warns that it is in Telstra's interest to build a new monopoly as quickly as possible, this time based on FttN.

Mitchell, however, insists Telstra is committed to building a high speed broadband network that is completely open and competitive, and has already proven it is not out to stifle competition for its own benefit.

"The whole thing about a wholesale open access network means that people will be able to compete and there will be competition, Telstra Retail will be given no preference over other competitors and will have the same standards," he said.

"Telstra Wholesale already has a wholesale regime that works, and there is competition in that area already. We aren't afraid of competition, we welcome it and that's why we've always said we welcome an open access network."

Budde said consistent comparing of the new national broadband network to international benchmarks, and continual analysis by key stakeholders from industries reliant on telecommunications technologies to make sure the network can deliver services to increase the economy and improve social and commercial services is the way forward.

"The government understands that the new NBN requires regulatory changes, and in one way or another we need to create an open access network. The minister has clearly indicated he is all in favour of that, now it just comes down to the execution."

Telstra agrees.

"The thing we want the most is a quick outcome, we have waited three years for this and Australia is falling behind the rest of the world in the development of this vital infrastructure that will underpin our economy and underpin innovation and future prosperity," Mitchell said.

"We need a Fibre network to deliver it to Australian homes. There is nothing on the horizon in the next 20 years or so that will replace Fibre as the conduit, it will be very much a bedrock for our economy and infrastructure for a long time, so it's important we get it right and delivered, and the rest of the world is already doing that and we're falling behind the more we wait."

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Andrew Hendry

Computerworld
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