Optus On the Offensive Over Broadband Network

01 May 2008

SYDNEY: Optus – the second-largest telco in Australia – has attacked the government's tender process for building a new national broadband network, claiming it favours its rival Telstra and that consumers will end up paying higher prices.

Optus is at the head of the G9 consortium bidding for the contract, with Telstra thus far being the only other major player to publicly declare its intention to compete.

One of the main issues highlighted by Optus is that key information about the telecoms network run by Telstra – which used to be state-owned and remains the dominant player in the market – has not been made available. 

Argues ceo Paul O'Sullivan: "The current process is not properly structured, it doesn't allow for a competitive bid process, it favours the incumbent, and on the terms the incumbent is proposing consumers will end up paying higher prices."

Optus is also said to be preparing legal action against the government after it cancelled an agreement to pay A$958 million ($894m; €576m; £455m) to the Opel consortium that the company had formed with fellow services provider Elders to build faster broadband access in regional and rural areas.

O'Sullivan claims pressure from Telstra caused the government to pull out of the deal. He wants the three-month deadline for the new national contract should be extended to July 25, with the winning operator being kept separate from its broadband carriers.

Government communications minister Stephen Conroy said the new system would facilitate competition by providing an "open access network".

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff