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Friday, 27 November 2009 14:11

Telstra avoids legislative axe and buys time

Hot on the heels of the news of Telstra’s slightly cheaper new broadband plans came the news that the legislative reforms intended to break up Telstra haven’t passed by the end of the year as expected, and has now been delayed until next year – giving Telstra more time to try and do a favourable deal with the Federal Government.

First we learn of Telstra’s new “BigPond Elite Gateway” that takes Next G and shares it through a Wi-Fi and 4-port Ethernet router, and then Telstra’s new broadband plans which increase minimum download caps, introduce new 100GB and 200GB plans and try to get everyone onto “bundles” so they can “save money”.

Telstra have also chosen to highlight its $59.95 per month plan for 12GB of downloads per month when I keep on hearing ads from TPG for a $49.95 per month package offering 100GB download split into 50GB peak and 50GB off peak.

Of course Telstra does offer a lot of additional content to its users, as well as unmetered access to services such as BigPond Music, TV, Movies, a news channel, sports and the list goes on.

But the Internet is not just what is offered by Telstra but what is out there from the entire planet, and while any locally included legal content is good, there’s lots of other free and paid legal content out there I’m interested in as well, be it from iTunes, or the ABC, or any number of other sites amongst the billions out there.

As previously noted, Telstra could clearly be doing a lot more, but is likely saving its ammo for the true NBN fight to come.

Fellow iTWire journalist Stuart Corner has nicely explained the situation facing Federal Minister for Communications, Senator Stephen Conroy, and Telstra, with Telstra now able to use lack of stronger government powers and the extra time before the legislation comes back to parliament next year to try and negotiate a more favourable “pre-Christmas” deal than any subsequently passed legislation would otherwise allow.

Naturally this puts great pressure onto Telstra to put the best foot forward, with Telstra CEO David Thodey recently speaking to business leaders at the American Chamber of Commerce, first noting that he couldn’t talk about the NBN but then seemingly on his vision of just that!

Continued on page 2, please read on…

In what ended up as a 22 page transcript, Thodey talked about the importance and incredible impact of communications and the Internet in our lives today.

He spoke at length on Telstra’s role in it all and its capabilities in delivering amazing technologies, while explaining that technology is just an enabler, and by itself, not the complete solution, amongst many other details. 

Naturally, Thodey emphasised Telstra’s ability to deliver on his vision and presumably showcasing Telstra’s commitment to wanting to be part of any NBN (and hopefully on most of its own terms), but it’s up against what is arguably the most unpredictable Government of recent times.

Quite what this means for everyday Australians who will end up using whatever the Australian Government, Telstra and the other telcos cook up is still way up in the air.

All we know for certain is that both Telstra and the Federal Government are tough players, and both want to win and be seen as having engineered the best outcome.

Competitive carriers are also worried that a deal will be struck outside of the legislative framework, potentially allowing Telstra to somehow win itself a sweeter deal than competitors would like.

So, strap yourselves in, telco sector fans, for the NBN show could well have an interesting Christmas episode, but if not, we’ll have to wait for more fireworks next year!


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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