Discuss Plan to Build Web Network
By Rachel Pannett
The Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
-- Telstra Corp. will work with
Australia's newly elected Labor
government on its election promise to build an A$4.7 billion
($4.14 billion) high-speed Internet network.
But the company won't be a part of any deal that requires it to
share ownership of the infrastructure with the government or
rival companies, Telstra director of public policy Phil Burgess
Local media reported earlier yesterday that the
broadband-Internet plan could be derailed by Telstra, after Mr.
Burgess told a postelection industry forum Monday his company
wouldn't participate in any shared-equity plan.
But Mr. Burgess later said that Telstra is talking with the
government about other kinds of public-private partnerships.
"We are not interested in doing consortiums with other
companies, and we are not interested in a joint-equity
arrangement with the government. But there are other kinds of
ways that we can work with the government, and we are willing to
do it and eager to do it," Mr. Burgess said.
The broadband network -- which the Labor government says would
provide 98% of Australian homes with high-speed Internet
services -- was a key issue in the six-week federal election
campaign, which saw the center-left party defeat the 11-year-old
Liberal-National coalition government by a landslide.
Broadband became a hot political issue ahead of the election
amid concerns that
Internet speeds lag well behind those of other industrialized
The coalition government favored a private-sector approach and
was taking submissions on building a privately funded high-speed
network in urban centers.
Telstra, a former government-owned monopoly and Australia's largest
telecommunications company by subscriber numbers, is viewed as a
front-runner to build Labor's fiber network, along with the
so-called G9 coalition, led by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd.
The Labor government hopes to have the necessary
telecommunications legislation in place within six months, with
the fiber rollout to start next year. It plans to disband a
panel formed by the previous government and create a new
committee to assess its fiber plan.
Write to Rachel Pannett at