Australian fixed line incumbent Telstra has signed a contract with nbn (formerly NBN Co) worth around AUD1.6 billion (USD1.2 billion) under which it will provide planning, design, construction and construction management services within the existing Telstra Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC) network footprint. Telstra noted that works are expected to continue until the end of the National Broadband Network (NBN) build being overseen by nbn – which is scheduled for completion by 2020 – and includes geographic areas in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth and Adelaide. Construction will be split into two areas, with field construction activities largely being performed by nbn’s MIMA partners, while in-exchange construction activities and limited upstream in-field activities will be undertaken by Telstra.
Separately, however, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has expressed concerns around the competition implications of Telstra’s involvement in the rollout of the NBN. In a press release following in the wake of the latest deal between the incumbent and nbn, the regulator said that, while it recognised using the telco’s technical expertise would contribute to a quicker network rollout, the ACCC ‘remained concerned’ that competition issues would arise. According to the watchdog, it has held ‘extensive and productive discussions’ with nbn and Telstra with a view to addressing its concerns, while the two companies are said to have recently provided a set of proposals aimed at addressing the issues. Commenting on matter, ACCC chairman Rod Sims noted: ‘We are looking at the parties’ proposals carefully to consider to what extent these proposals address our concerns. It is important that Telstra doesn’t get a head-start selling retail services over the NBN just because its technical expertise is being used in the construction and maintenance of the NBN.’