We're committed to NBN, says Telstra

Nicole McCormick
10 Jun 2010

Telstra financial chief John Stanhope says the carrier is committed to the government’s NBN plan, but warns that Telstra’s involvement might be blocked by the competition regulator.

“We support the government's high-speed broadband vision,” the Telstra CFO told a conference Wednesday.

“But even if we agree [to join NBN Co.]… someone like the ACCC [the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission] could come along and say it doesn't like it.”

For the past eight months, the government has been trying to woo Telstra to sell its copper access network to the state-owned NBN Co. but the pair remains at loggerheads over the price of the network.

Any deal would need the ACCC’s approval as per the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Competition and Consumer Safeguards) Bill.

Stanhope said sale talks with the government were progressing but that no end-date was in sight.

“It is a very complex discussion,'” Stanhope said. “The time frame is very difficult and we have passed more deadlines than I can count.”

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy last month said he wanted a deal with Telstra inked by the end of June.

A recent joint study by KPMG and McKinsey found that Telstra’s involvement in NBN Co. would allow the latter to shave A$5 billion ($$4.16 billion) off its total A$43 billion investment.

But Stanhope said that failing a deal being struck, the government’s plans to functionally separate Telstra could cost it A$1 billion over five years.

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