The Industry's Response To Conroy's Telstra Ultimatum

Most of these responses to Conroy's bitch-slapping of Telstra came through yesterday, but they're still worth a read. Personally, I'm disappointed by the lack of fireworks from Telstra themselves – I can't help but think that if Sol was around, we'd have lawyers duelling pistols at dawn...

Here's Telstra's response to Conroy's ultimatum for separation:

Telstra remains committed to working with Federal Government September 15 2009 – Telstra Chief Executive Officer David Thodey today responded to the Federal Government’s proposed regulatory reform package.

“While we are disappointed the government has felt it necessary to introduce this legislation, Telstra remains committed to working with the government to find a solution that is in the best interests of the industry, the nation, Telstra and our shareholders,” Mr Thodey said.

“It is Telstra’s view that many aspects of this package are unnecessary and need never be implemented if a mutually acceptable outcome can be reached on the National Broadband Network.

“Telstra supports the Government's NBN vision. We are willing to discuss options around separation.”

Telstra will carefully examine the package over the coming days, he said.

“At all times, our approach to regulatory reform and the NBN will continue to be driven first and foremost by the need to protect the interests of our shareholders,” Mr Thodey said.

The NBN has been given the strongest possible board and management focus, including the establishment of a dedicated Board sub-committee, chaired by the Chairman of the Board, Ms Catherine Livingstone, and an NBN engagement team, led by Group Managing Director Mr Geoff Booth.

Telstra has done a large amount of work to ensure we have the best possible understanding of the complex and challenging issues around separation and NBN.

“We are actively and constructively engaged with Government.” Mr Thodey said. “Much remains uncertain, but we will continue to provide updates whenever it is appropriate to do so.”

Naturally, Optus weighed in on the discussion:

Optus welcomes landmark decision on regulatory reform Optus today welcomed the landmark decision by the Federal Government to reform the regulatory environment governing the Australian telecommunications sector.

“The Federal Government today made an important step in reforming the telecommunications sector with its proposed changes to the regulatory regime. It is a landmark decision that has the potential to change the entire telecommunications landscape forever, resulting in considerable benefits for all Australians,” Paul O’Sullivan, Optus Chief Executive said.

The Government’s draft legislation closely mirrors the model Optus put forward in its submission to the Government’s regulatory reform discussion paper on 3 June 2009. Optus has long advocated for a regulatory framework built around four key pillars including: structural separation; open access principles; cost-based pricing; and ACCC oversight.

Maha Krishnapillai, Optus Director Government and Corporate Affairs said, “We are encouraged by today’s announcement and believe that the proposed reforms will address many of the issues which have adversely impacted competition in the Australian telecommunications industry over the last 12 years. We look forward to examining the draft legislation in further detail over the coming weeks.”

“The Government has made its intentions clear. It is now up to the parliament, Telstra and the rest of the industry to ensure this long overdue reform becomes a reality,” Mr. O’Sullivan said.

As did iiNet:

iiNet Welcomes Telecommunications Regulatory Reform

15 September 2009 – iiNet, Australia’s third largest Internet Service Provider (ISP), has welcomed the Federal Government’s planned reforms to telecommunications regulations saying it will encourage competition and benefit customers.

While still examining the full detail of the reforms, iiNet’s Managing Director, Michael Malone, said requiring Telstra to separate and streamlining the competition regime were critical to the future of Australia’s telecommunications industry.

“The big winner from these reforms is the Australian consumer who will be able to gain access to fast, affordable and competitive broadband services,” Mr Malone said.

“It should provide greater certainty for the telecommunications industry and encourage investment, innovation and jobs.

"iiNet is well placed to continue our strong growth under the new world that will be created by the National Broadband Network and these regulatory reforms.

“We are a market leader in product innovation, customer service, content provision, backed by a strong brand, and will be able to compete on a truly open high speed network.”

So the question now is whether anybody cares? We probably won't actually see any pricing reforms for a while yet, and while it's always nice to see Telstra slapped around a bit (especially after the arrogant way Trujillo ran the company), what we really want to see is cheaper broadband (and ADSL2+ at my local exchange for ISPs that aren't Telstra)...

[Conroy vs Telstra on Giz]

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