Telstra: No preference on NBN opt-out


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


  1. Thodey quoted in The Australian as saying “The commercial terms must be such that we are not left to maintain the copper in that period, otherwise the value is destroyed, so it’s got to be done in commercial terms and that is why it’s the government’s prerogative to decide how to incent people to move across,”.

    What do you think that does to the chance of finalising the Heads of Agreement by the end of the year?

    Oh, and great to see the arrival of the verb “to incent”

  2. Then there is also “to vend”.

    If Telstra was forced to maintain the copper network, NBN might get a discount on the $11 billion for the ducts, pits and customers.

  3. I really don’t see the big deal here. When it comes to connecting to the NBN, you need to ask yourself a few quick questions:

    – Do I want a home phone?
    – Do I want fixed line internet to be available to my home?
    – Do I have a monitored alarm?
    – Do I want to avoid devaluing my property by the amount needed to connect in the future?

    Yes to any of those questions means you need to connect to the NBN. The copper network is being replaced with fiber, so it won’t be available. There is no bad side to getting it connected to your property. It won’t cost you anything and you won’t be forced to use it – but the connection will be there just in case you do.

    The big deal about it being forced on people is just cheap politics by the opposition. Making it opt-out instead of opt in reduces all the paperwork needed by all those getting connected and stops people missing out on the connection because they didn’t realise they needed it. Why do people think this is a bad thing when it is making this more efficient for everyone!

  4. Have to agree its all politics as well. If its free why wouldn’t you and at some stage you will need to use it anyway. The difficulty at our end (non resident of Tasmania) is what comms have gone to the home owner about this.

  5. All well and good, Damo, but have you considered what happens when the power goes off? At least with a copper cable the phones still work. If someone doesn’t have a mobile, and thousands don’t, where does that leave them in case of emergency? Maybe we’ll have to force them to purchase a mobile phone as well, just in case.

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