Telstra chief executive David Thodey this afternoon said that the telco had no real preference as to whether Australians should be forced to “opt-out” of the National Broadband Network rather than opt in, in the wake of a decision this week by the Tasmanian Government to pursue such a policy through legislation.
“The answer is no,” said Thodey (video here on YouTube) when asked whether Telstra had a preference on the matter, especially with relation to its multi-billion-dollar deal with the National Broadband Network Company.
“It’s more about commercial terms and conditions – how the Government handles it is really their prerogative,” he said, speaking to journalists after a speech at an event hosted by the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce.
Thodey said in his company’s negotiations with NBN Co, what was important was the commercial terms around how Australians would migrate from using telecommunications services over Telstra’s network to using similar services on the NBN as it was rolled out. “We’re agnostic,” he said. “It’s not our position to make a decision on that.”
Key to Telstra, the executive said, was that the telco must not be left to maintain the copper network as the NBN was rolled out, otherwise the value of its deal with NBN Co would be destroyed. “It’s got to be done with commercial terms,” he repeated. “So that’s why it’s really the Government’s prerogative to decide how to incentivise people to move across.”
Tasmania’s decision has polarised both sides of politics, even within their respective ranks, with the Tasmanian Liberal Party at loggerheads with the Federal Liberal Party on the matter, and Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull blasting the move as forcing Australians onto the NBN.
However, the deal has been praised by technology advocacy group Digital Tasmania, and it was welcomed by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, whose office said it would enable a faster and more efficient rollout of the network, minimising inconvenience to landowners, who would now not have to confirm in writing that they wanted the NBN to be connected to their premises.
Australia’s other states have been reported to be considering how they will approach the NBN rollouts in the wake of Tasmania’s decision.
Other matters covered in the doorstop video above include Telstra layoffs, the price of the National Broadband Network and Telstra’s share price.
Video credit: Delimiter