According to Australian daily newspaper The Herald, Deutsche Telekom has confirmed it wants to be part of a consortium which will bid to build a multi-billion-dollar high speed broadband network to Australia’s largest cities. The announcement comes as Telstra and the SingTel Optus-led G9 consortium have criticised aspects of the Federal Government’s framework for the bidding process. According to the newspaper report Deutsche Telekom’s Asian division has said it is ‘confident that appropriate financial partners are available to support such a strategic infrastructure opportunity’. The German telco has not revealed the identities of potential partners, but it is understood it has approached financial backers including the Islamic Bank of Dubai and London broking firm ICAP.
The government taskforce charged with selecting a bidder has only several weeks to consider submissions on its draft guidelines before they are made final later this month. After that, bidders will have 17 weeks to lodge proposals. Deustche Telekom said the time-frames did not permit the formation of a consortium to access technical information required for an assessment by the government taskforce. Furthermore, it said the draft guidelines were not clear about the role of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. In calling for ‘adequate time’ to be given to considering proposals, the G9 group has also said in a submission that many elements of the criteria set out in the draft guidelines ‘are not adequately defined and will be difficult to apply consistently and fairly to proposals’. Telstra, which has consistently claimed it is best placed to build a network, has made it clear it believes the tender process for selecting a successful bidder will take too long. In its latest submission, it said the taskforce must not be ‘waylaid by irrelevant and time-consuming debates about whether high speed broadband is justified’.