Telstra shareholders accept $11b NBN deal

Dylan Bushell-Embling
19 Oct 2011
Daily News

Shareholders in Australia's Telstra yesterday overwhelmingly approved the A$11 billion ($11.26 billion) deal for the telco to structurally separate and move its customers on to the NBN.

The long-awaited vote for the incumbent operator to progressively decommission its copper network and lease the ducts and other assets to the national fiber project was cleared by a margin of 99%.

Under the agreement reached with the government, Telstra will effectively become a retail-only provider when it comes to fixed-line services.

It will be giving up the wholesale business that has been a source of contention for years, with rivals arguing the operator charges unfair prices for access to the network it was gifted when privatized starting in 1997.

But because of the harsh conditions the government had threatened to impose if Telstra did not accept the deal – including regulation effectively enforcing operational separation – some shareholders had expressed bitterness over being forced to accept what they see as the “least worst option.”

In exchange for $11 billion from the government, Telstra's fixed line network will be decommissioned over the next 10 years, and the company will lease its ducts, pits and backhaul fiber to NBN Co – the operational company set up to conduct the NBN rollout - for 30 years.

The final deal still requires approval from competition regulator ACCC.

NBN Co yesterday separately announced its construction schedule for the next 12 months.

Over this period, the company aims to pass around 485,000 premises with fiber, in addition to the 63,500 premises where the rollout is already underway.

This construction phase will also include the first stage of work on the underlying transit network. The entire transit network is expected to be built over the next three years.

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