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Leading telcos come together to develop competitive model for national broadband upgrade
21 Apr 2006

Chief executives of a number of leading telecommunications companies and internet service providers today called for a pro-competitive approach to upgrading Australia's national broadband infrastructure.

The companies represented - Internode, Macquarie, Optus, PowerTel, Primus, Soul and TransACT - said it was pleasing to see policy attention being given to this desperately needed infrastructure upgrade.

David Tudehope, Chief Executive Officer of Macquarie Telecom, said: "Upgrading the infrastructure is one half of the story; but just as important is protecting and stimulating competition in broadband communications.

"That is why we are calling for collective investment in an open access network. Under our proposal, Telstra would be joined by other telcos and internet service providers in making the necessary investment to upgrade the existing copper local loop into a high bandwidth fibre to the node network.

"This approach will deliver high speed broadband services to more Australians, more quickly, than if the new network was a Telstra monopoly," Mr Tudehope said.

Paul O'Sullivan, Chief Executive of Optus, said: "It is clear that Australia's broadband future is best served by a co-ordinated approach to building an open access network.

"Our proposal will also bring greater competitor access to services and this in turn will deliver improved broadband competition, better prices and product innovation.

"We plan to develop a detailed proposal which will set out the benefits that Australia will receive from a genuinely national, open and competitive broadband network.

"We are appointing economic advisers to assist in this work, and will be putting the proposal forward to Government and the ACCC," Mr O'Sullivan said.

The represented companies believe the industry model proposed by Telstra will harm broadband competition by keeping prices too high and suppressing take up.

Michael Simmons, Chief Executive Officer of Soul, said: "Telstra has offered Australia a false choice: a high speed broadband network owned by a monopoly provider; or preservation of the existing market structure involving several competitors, but with no increase in broadband speeds.

"Telstra's planned rollout will go to only four million homes and businesses in the five major capital cities. This will divide Australia into the digital 'haves' and 'have nots', with less than half of all lines being able to receive the new high speed services.

"These are important issues and we are confident the ACCC and Government will be alive to the danger of Telstra recapturing a local loop monopoly.

"The process we are initiating is designed to broaden the debate and give the ACCC and Government options they can accept - without putting competition at risk," Mr Simmons said.

Media contacts:

Macquarie Telecom Optus SP Telemedia (Soul)
Tel: (02) 9213 2302 Tel: (02) 9342 7850 Tel: (02) 8220 6124