The Telstra Chainsaw Massacre: Burgess slashes NBN submissions

Telstra likens NBN submissions to a “B-grade slasher movie”, then does a little hacking of its own

Telstra has released a scathing media statement ripping into the regulatory submissions made by its competitors to the federal government for the building of the National Broadband Network. The company has accused its opponents of harbouring an "agenda of Telstra-slashing, not nation-building".

Telstra's head of public policy, Phil Burgess, charged that "Telstra slashers" were using the NBN to advance a tired, anti-Telstra campaign instead of advancing regulatory reform that will promote investment, innovation, consumer choice and the digital economy.

Burgess accused Telstra's competitors of seeking government-mandated separation of the incumbent that would "weaken and undermine Australia's only integrated, nation-wide communications network just so the slashers can gain an advantage in specific markets where they compete".

He said they were using the NBN as a self-serving means to advantage themselves by using the Government to tear Telstra apart.

"Mobiles operators want to see Telstra's mobiles business broken up; ISPs want BigPond broken up; content providers want BigPond and FOXTEL broken up; telcos want to put an axe to the lot; and Acacia wants to shield its NBN from all competition, even from wireless. Google, of course, wants everything for free," he said.

Burgess said if its competitors get their way Telstra will be broken up into a dozen separate companies, likening the process to "watching a B-grade slasher movie but, in this film, the knives are out for millions of Telstra customers and shareholders".

He then went about a little slashing of his own, tearing through the Vodafone, Optus and Terria submissions, collectively dismissing them as "a joke".

"Of course Vodafone, one of the world's largest corporations and the world's third largest telco operator, wants to use government to cripple Telstra. Why wouldn't they? It sure beats competing for customers in the marketplace, where they are not winning."

He took a shot at SingTel Optus over its failed Optus/Opel wireless network bid for regional and rural Australia: "they are back at the trough again"; and accused the carrier of hypocrisy for arguing against separation of itself in its home country of Singapore while fighting for separation of Telstra in Australia.

While Telstra's competitors believe some degree of separation is needed to foster a truly competitive and equivalent access NBN, offering expert opinion on other nation's where separation has occurred, Telstra has always rebutted with its own array of experts indicating separation is unnecessary.

"No one in their right mind would go down the separation path, which lies somewhere between crazy and stupid," Burgess said.

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The federal government has faced criticism from the industry that the NBN tender documents are too vague to ensure the network will be open-access and pro-competitive. Telstra has said it will bow out of the NBN process if structural separation is enforced.

"It doesn't make any sense and it hasn't worked anywhere in the world. In reality the opposite is true - separation has done nothing but grind investment and innovation to a halt. This view is supported by experts around the world. Wherever separation has been toyed with, it has increased costs, reduced efficiencies and brought investment in high-speed broadband infrastructure to a virtual standstill - not the least in the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand.

The G9 (Terria) consortium also copped flak when Burgess suggested they should be more worried about their own separation than Telstra's.

"G9 which is now G8 or G7 and recently rebadged itself as Terria is Exhibit A, and the Optus/Opel consortium that lost nearly a billion dollars of government money because it couldn't produce a wireless infrastructure plan is Exhibit B.

"Unfortunately, this exercise has simply provided a forum for all of Telstra's competitors to present the Government with a wish-list to win through a political process what they cannot win in the marketplace - a familiar story."

Acacia were also singled out by Telstra, which accused them of wanting to "ban all broadband competition including wireless networks".

Google, another vocal proponent of functional or structural separation of Telstra, copped a final serve:

"Google, not even an access seeker, just wants free access to bandwidth from a network that will cost billion of dollars to build."