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Wednesday, 20 November 2013 13:57

Telstra says copper is like a "grandfather's axe" Featured

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Telstra has defended its copper network in the face of heavy criticism, comparing it to a "grandfather's axe" that can be fixed as needed.

Telstra's Group Managing Director of the company's wholesale division Stuart Lee told attendees at the NBN:Rebooted conference at Sydney that extreme weather was to blame for any copper deterioration, as opposed to "ageing".

"It's like grandfather's axe; It's had five new handles and three new heads," Lee said, as first reported by Fairfax.

"When it breaks, we replace the broken bit. So it's much the same as it always has been and always will be."

"It's not an ageing copper network," Lee said . "It's just an older technology, it's not that the asset itself has deteriorated.''

The technology is set to be key to the government's future NBN plans, despite interim NBN Co chief Ziggy Switkowski telling a Senate estimates committee yesterday that the NBN roll-out would be using FTTP (Fibre-to-the-Premise) until further notice.

Though Switkowski, who was Telstra chief executive for five years, said the copper network was working well.

"Here I default back to my own history ... It's constantly being maintained, remediated, upgraded," he said yesterday.

"My feeling is that in 2013, the copper network fault rate may be higher than it was in the time I was at Telstra, but perhaps not materially higher," he said.

"As best as I can tell, the copper network continues to perform robustly."

Telstra CEO David Thodey also talked up the copper last month, when he said it was "worth a lot of money".

The telco is also preparing to renegotiate its $11 billion national broadband network deal with the federal government, which will use copper in its fibre-to-the-node rollout for 71% of premises.

Labor's plan was to use the much-faster fibre-to-the-premise plan to connect every Australian, though at an estimated cost of almost $50 billion (according to Labor).

NBN Co is continuing to prepare its strategic review, due 2 December.

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