Australian fixed line incumbent Telstra has reportedly reaffirmed its commitment to offering services in regional Australia, on the proviso that the state provides subsidies designed to support such provision in non-commercial areas, particularly for mobile voice connections. According to ZDNet Australia, in a submission to the government’s Regional Telecommunications Review the telco set out its past achievements in boosting telecoms connectivity in rural areas of the country, highlighting the launch of its Long Term Evolution (LTE) infrastructure in 80 regional locations, the installation of some 2,000 ‘Top Hats’ (additional boxes bolted on to existing cabinets to allow for future upgrades) and investment of AUD264 million (USD269 million) in increasing backhaul connectivity in regional areas since 2008.
Looking forward, however, Telstra noted that partnerships involving government funding would be required to introduce services in areas not seen as commercially viable, with the telco stating: ‘Telstra considers many factors when determining where to invest infrastructure that would benefit the local community. At times, it is not commercially viable for Telstra to invest in infrastructure as there is a low or negative return on investment … In these instances, Telstra works with the local communities that have expressed a desire for additional infrastructure to determine what partnerships can be established to provide financial assistance. Telstra encourages these partnerships where it is beneficial to all parties.’
Submissions to the government’s inquiry were closed last month, and the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee (RTIRC) is expected to deliver its findings to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy by 5 March 2012.