The Australian Next Broadband Network – Part 1 – Telstra out

If you have been watching/listening/reading the Australian news lately you may have noticed that Telstra has now decided to threaten the government with an $80 billion compensation claim due to the costs of letting whoever winds the Australian Next Broadband Network bid access to their infrastructure. This comes after Telstra attempted to bullshit the government and try to change the rules of the bidding process, getting kicked out of it in the process and that comes after over a year of threats to the government regarding, to put it in simple terms ‘get their own way’.

Sol Trujillo - Telstra CEO, without his hands in the air surprisingly
Sol Trujillo – Telstra CEO, without his hands in the air

Telstra is the only company that I have seen in the past few years act like a 5 year old child, Telstra must get everything that they wish otherwise they throw a tantrum, every time they do this they get shot down, mainly because of their ridiculous demands, but mostly because they just want to play by their own rules, now I don’t doubt that this works sometimes in business, but you sure as hell don’t act that way to the government, especially not one that had been fighting for the past 12 years against the previous government who let Telstra do anything they wanted.

It comes as no surprise that if I was a shareholder in the company I would be appalled. Telstra lost $12 Billion worth of shares due to being kicked out of the bidding process, the bidding process the government set up, it’s a formal bid that a multi-billion dollar business puts in to build a huge infrastructure project in this country, they made a mockery out of it. Even the local fish and chip shop knows that if they put in a formal bid such as this they should plan months ahead and make sure they had everything organised, instead Telstra strolled in and just assumed that they would get it because they are Telstra, it just doesn’t work that way and I cannot believe the board were stupid enough to think a risk like that would work, I hope that the shareholders do something about this because there is no way that they can spin this into something good.

Dodgy business practices aside, there are now 3 consortiums left in the bidding process: Optus, Axia and Acacia, out of those 3 my bet is on Optus, but if it was my choice, keep in mind I only know what they are proposing, not the details of whether they could do what they say, I would pick Axia. Now they are not an Australian company, which automatically gets a large amount of Xenophobic comments from those that would rather pick a dodgy Australian company over a competent Canadian company that actually know what they are doing.

Axia are proposing instead of building the FTTN (Fibre to the Node) network that the others including Telstra were planning on building and everybody really just assumed was the only network allowed to be built, they are instead proposing to build a FTTH (Fibre to the Home) or FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) as it is sometimes called network for metropolitan and some regional areas, introducing a mixture of equivalent wireless and fibre for other harder to reach areas. This is next generation technology, well rather, it is current generation technology however it’s the best we have, which is even better, the truth of the matter is, Fibre to the Node is the same technology we currently have, just in a slightly faster package and available to slightly more people, the clear type of network that we need to be able to actually say next generation broadband network is a fully fibre network.

FTTN is great, but it doesn’t stop my ADSL (or VDSL) connection going down due to water ingress and a whole host of other problems, fibre is not foolproof either but it certainly has less problems as long as it gets looked after properly. Pricing wise Axia believe that they can give it to us, or rather, give it to ISPs wholesale for much cheaper than is currently available with ADSL, that isn’t just a good thing now, but with the economic future uncertain people don’t want to be paying large amounts for their internet connection while they are trying to deal with arguably more important products and services.

No matter who wins the bid, it certainly will be a good thing for this country in general, I just hope that Telstra don’t get back into the bid through some more threatening and devious behaviour, perhaps they should try doing something a little more by the book next time they bid for something like the other companies that had no problem following the rules.