FttN a ULL gem for Telstra: Terria

Industry still divided over NBN open access.

Telstra will spend $15 billion to kill competition across its ADSL exchanges, according to Terria.

Michael Egan, former NSW treasurer turned Terria CEO, slammed Telstra on behalf of the consortium's eight member telcos and accused it of formulating its $15 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) bid to bypass tough Unbundled Local Loop (ULL) regulations.

The regulations were put in place last year to allow rival telcos to put DSLAMS in Telstra exchanges.

"Telstra realised [fighting ULL] was a lost battle, and it came up with a plan using Fibre to the Node (FttN) technology, not for good reasons but to damage competition, which will bypass the exchanges [that rivals use]," Egan said.

"[DSL] exchanges service thousands and the [FttN] ones will only service a couple of hundred premises.

"Make no mistake, eliminating rivals is the commercial motive that has driven Telstra's interest in an FttN network. It would have surely flicked the ADSL2+ switch years ago and allowed competitors to install equipment if it's interests were to supply acceptable broadband speeds to Australia."

Egan, who was speaking at a panel titled 'Delivering a world-class broadband network for Australia' at a conference in Sydney last week, attacked Telstra's interpretation and conveyance of an open access network, required by tender documents, comparing their submissions to government on NBN regulatory reform as "laissez faire capitalism" and labelling their arguments as a "complete joke".

A Telstra spokesman in the audience, responding to Terria's comments, denied any organisation would spend billions to address the "ULL problem".

"Even an 800 pound gorilla can't cop a white elephant; spending $15 billion to fix the ULL problem is absurd," he said.

Egan said all telcos, including the structurally separated Terria operations arm, will be provided with equal access costs if the consortium wins the $4.5 billion government funded NBN network.

He offered Telstra the first slice of shares, adding he would like Terria to be publicly floated if it won the NBN tender.

Terria managing director Michael Simmons told Computerworld structural separation need not be legislated in the NBN environment because economics will demand a shift from infrastructure to retail operations.

"The [break] from networks based on utility to retail has happened all over the world and it will happen here too; even Telstra's shareholders will demand it," Simmons said.

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Darren Pauli

Computerworld
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