Telstra unable to build NBN if forced to separate, company claims

13 Nov 2008

Telstra has told an Australian Senate committee that it would be unable to build the country's National Broadband Network (NBN) if structural separation becomes a condition.

The company has repeatedly threatened not to bid on building the NBN if the government decides to make the separation of Telstra's retail and wholesale units a condition of Telstra winning - indicating that the company was unwilling to be separated.

But on Tuesday, a company representative told the government that it would not be able to muster the resources required to build or maintain a world-class NBN if it was forced to separate.

The spokesperson also said Telstra had concerns about the commercial feasibility of the stated goal of the NBN - to roll out fibre to 98% of the country's spread-out population.

Shadow communications minister Nick Minchin took advantage of Telstra's statements to again criticise the government for its handling of the NBN tender.

'Telstra's evidence was a damning indictment of Labor's fatally flawed NBN tender process and highlighted just how unrealistic many of its key objectives are,' he said.

'Telstra reaffirmed that it would be virtually impossible to build the NBN in the five years promised by Labor, [and] minister Conroy seems incapable of deciding whether he is for or against further separation of Telstra, therefore totally undermining his own flawed tender process.'

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