Minister refuses to bow to Telstra over regulation of NGN

8 Mar 2006

Australia’s telecoms minister Helen Coonan has ratcheted up the pressure on fixed line incumbent Telstra by reiterating that the telco’s planned high speed network will not be exempt from key regulations. Last November Telstra unveiled a AUD10 million plan to build a nationwide next generation network, but just a month later it put the plans on hold, saying it was concerned that it was not receiving enough regulatory help in preventing rivals from piggybacking on its infrastructure on the cheap. Telstra has insisted it needs a guaranteed regulatory ‘safe harbour’ before it upgrades its network to ensure its business remains profitable, possibly in the form of an unspecified regulatory holiday period. ‘There cannot be automatic exemptions from the regime for investments if they result in new bottlenecks or extend existing ones,’ Coonan told a conference in Sydney. ‘I will be the first to acknowledge that Telstra’s fibre-to-the-node network would be good news for the deployment of next generation broadband in Australia, but if it came at the cost of a regulatory holiday that allowed Telstra to re-monopolise then it could be terminal for competition in Australia and, ultimately, consumers would suffer.’

Australia, Telstra (incl. Belong)